Nancy Springer:
writing what she wants to read

An interview by Tom Knapp, 1989

Nancy Springer lives in a fantasy world. She writes for a living.

The author of numerous successful fantasy and children's novels, the Dallastown, Pa., resident said she started her career because no one else was putting out the books she was looking for. "They're the books I always wanted to read, but nobody else was writing them, so I wrote them myself."

She finds inspiration in her daily contact with other people, she said. "I will start strange conversations just to see what people will say. Almost always, they'll come up with something that I never would have thought of."

Ideas are something you have to work at, she added. "There's no idea fairy. Ideas usually come just a little bit at a time ... a whiff in the air, something that zips past. You have to grab it. Sometimes, it's just a feeling, an emotion, a picture in your head."

Her own process of writing begins with an idea for setting, character and plot. Then, before she starts putting words down on paper, she does library research into her topic, visits locales to be mentioned in the book or interviews experts in the fields to be discussed. "Your whole life is research if you're a writer," she explained. "You're never bored."

Although her early fantasy novels were usually set in "medieval places as they never were," Springer later turned her attention to more realistic and contemporary settings. She has set many of her stories in Pennsylvania, which she called a "strange and interesting place. If you've ever lived anywhere else, you know Pennsylvania is different." Her novel Apocalypse, for instance, is a "hyper-realistic" dark fantasy set in a fictional, but familiar town. "I exaggerated everything that was wrong in an archetypical Pennsylvania town. Your typical fantasy novel sets out to save the world. Apocalypse sets out to destroy it -- and then sees if it's worth saving."

An avid rider, most of her youth-oriented books involve a girl in a horse. Books like Not on a White Horse, They're All Named Wildfire and The Hex Witch of Seldom are "fairly idealistic," she said.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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