Saturday, May 2, 2020

Nancy Drew – A Timeless Girl Forever Relevant ~ by Leah Pugh

As an author, you hope your books will be enjoyed by countless people, find its way onto the best-seller list, or even be made into a movie. The Nancy Drew books have had that pleasure, and more. While I’m not sure if they made it onto the best-seller list, Nancy has found her way onto the big and small screen throughout the decades. Even becoming a board game, computer games, and let’s not forget the audiobooks. Oh, and then there are the weekly episodes airing on TV. I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.

For a series originally created in 1930, what has been so appealing about Nancy that she’s stood the test of time?

I remember being a fourteen-year-old bored bookworm when I was handed my first Nancy Drew book. The gray tweed cover felt rough beneath my fingertips, and the pages smelled musty. However, that didn’t matter as for the next two hours, I found myself having an adventure quite unlike anything I’d ever had before. One filled with shifty-eyed characters, a mischievous dog, puzzling clues, a fiery plane crash, and an ancient house ready to topple into the ocean.

As I grew up, I sought to have the complete Nancy Drew Mystery Stories collection, and thanks to my husband, that wish has been granted. As I read through the series, I observed Nancy’s hair color go from golden to titian, she went from driving a sporty roadster to a mustang, and she went from sixteen years old to eighteen years old in only a few books. While certain things changed, one thing stayed the same: Nancy. Her pluck, independence, and determination to right a wrong helped keep her relevant and interesting to readers through the decades. No matter how many times things changed in the books.

My Nancy Drew fandom eventually leaked into my writing, becoming the inspiration in shaping the heroine of my own mystery series. I wanted someone feisty and independent, and I got that in my character Crystal O’Mally. (Who just so happens to be a Nancy Drew fan herself) When I advertise my books at author events, I describe them as “kind of like an updated Nancy Drew.” It’s always such a joy to watch parents’ faces light up as they exclaim, “I used to read her books when I was younger! You read her, too? You’re so young!”

Trivia fact: Nancy Drew mysteries are for any age!

I hope I answered the earlier question; what has been so appealing about Nancy that she’s stood the test of time? I think this summarized quote from Mildred Wirt Benson (Carolyn Keene) sums everything up perfectly:

"To be remembered for more than an hour, a tale must ride on its own sealed capsule. If this sentiment is true, Nancy will long live in memory untouched by the world about her. Over the years, she may change in appearance and living style, but for early readers, she should forever remain the same – every girl’s challenge and dream for a better future."

Happy 90th Anniversary, Nancy Drew! May you continue to solve many more mysteries in your shiny Mustang, with Bess and George (and Ned) by your side!

Quote was taken from a foreword written by Mildred Wirt Benson in The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Applewood Books) Copyright 1931 by Simon and Schuster Inc. Parts of the quote were also taken from More About Nancy copyright 1994 by Mildred Wirt Benson.

Listen to Leah Pugh's podcast episode here.

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