About Me  

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in New England and New York.

And I started writing pretty early.

Nancy as a child
   
Nancy reading with her mom

My mother, especially, showed me the wonders of books. My parents read to me a lot when I was little. Later, we often spent summer evenings reading out loud to one another. My beloved great aunt, Tanna, who raised my mother and her siblings, often joined us.

   

Nancy fishing with her dadMy dad, who made up great stories, showed me the wonders of fishing.

One of his stories was a tall tale about a "flounderie" who managed to get himself back to the sea despite being served up as someone's restaurant dinner!

Then there was "Mr. Talkie," about a scatterbrained man whose clothes constantly had to point out he was putting them on the wrong way, and "Josephine the Ostrich," who was captured and taken to the zoo with her sister Madeline and Nemo the lion. Dad wrote that one down and I illustrated it.

As to fishing—well, I was a lot better at it back then. Now I'm better at storytelling. Besides, now I tend to be on the fish's side!


Although I started writing for fun when I was around 8, as a child I wanted to be a vet and I experimented with designing my own animal hospital and its accompanying house (which turned out to be a duplicate of my favorite aunt's house). Then, when I was in junior high, high school, college (Columbia University School of Dramatic Arts), and beyond, I wanted to be in theater, and actually was for a time. Acting, directing, lighting design, stage managing—all of theater fascinated me. I did comumnity theater, four seasons of professional summer stock, and a little off-Broadway—very far off! To support myself, I also had various odd jobs in offices.

   

Nancy workingI went on writing, though, no matter what else I did or where I was. In this picture, for example, I'm
working on a book in my study-to-be in Maine. It was less buggy inside than in the tent I'd been working in outdoors, and less noisy than in my supervisor's office years earlier when I was a student teacher!


Back in my theater days, though, I eventually got disillusioned with what I saw on stage in New York. Jobs were hard to find, too, and I realized I was going to need another way to earn my living, so I went to Columbia Teachers College and got a masters in speech. I taught for a while, still worked in theater when I could, and continued to write. Then I got a job working for a man who called himself a literary agent but really ran an editorial service. Instead of trying to get books published, he had his staff—including me—edit them for their authors. I learned a lot by doing that, and eventually I went on to real jobs in legitimate publishing.

By then I was very serious about writing. My first children's book, Aloysius P. Bookworm, was a collaboration with my best friend, Barbara Seuling, a former editor who is now a popular children's book author, illustrator, and writing teacher. Barbara did the pictures, I did the text, and between the two of us, we probably made just about every mistake a budding author and a budding illustrator can make! Luckily, we never had Aloysius published—I'm not sure we ever even tried—but we had a great time creating it, and we learned a lot from our mistakes.

In 1971, my first two published books, What Happened in Marston and a nonfiction book called Berlin: City Split in Two, came out. I was working as an editor in New York then, but soon afterward, my partner, Sandy, and I moved to Massachusetts, and I got a job as an editor in Boston. After a few years there, I also taught an adult education course in writing. I taught that course for many years, and through it, "met" many wonderful people all over the country—even a few who were living in other countries.
   

Nancy at deskNow I write as close to full time as possible, and visit schools and conferences to talk about books, writing, censorship, bullying, and other topics. My books have appeared on many lists of "best" and recommended books, and in 2001, I was surprised and honored to receive the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award for my work defending my novel Annie On My Mind from an attempt to ban it from libraries in a Kansas school district, and for my anti-censorship efforts in general. I got another wonderful surprise in January 2003 when I learned that the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association had given me the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing books for teens! And after those came more surprises: the Katahdin Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005 from the Maine Library Association, and induction into the Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame in 2007!

   
Nancy and Sandy

My partner, Sandy, and I...

   

...with our dog, Loki...

(Loki is a very lively golden retriever. He loves to play, chase the cats, and swim—in fact, he seeks out water wherever it is. At many times of year, that means mud—as you can see if you look closely at his face!)

Loki
   
Scout and Maya

...and our two ba-a-a-d cats, Scout and Maya...

   

...live in the woods in a small town in Massachusetts part of the year...

Massachusetts house
   
Maine house

...and in the woods in a small coastal town in Maine the rest of the year, where there's lots of wonderful peace and quiet for writing, thinking, hiking, gardening, reading—whatever enriches mind, soul, and body! People always think when I go to Maine I'm on vacation, but actually, that's where I usually do my best and most concentrated work.

 

If you want to learn more about me, you might want to look me up in Something About the Author, available in many libraries—see volumes 6, 8, 12, and 147 (Vol. 147 has the most information). There's also a good interview with me in Outspoken by Michael Thomas Ford, another on Cynthia Leitich Smith's Children's Literature Resources on the web, one on teensreadtoo.com, and, for teachers and librarians, one on authors4teens.com. For information about the First Amendment court case involving Annie on My Mind, please contact me.

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This is the only authorized web site for Nancy Garden. Content updated April 2011.
Copyright © 2011 by Nancy Garden. All rights reserved.