Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Books of the Month: The Nicki Holland Mysteries

Long time ago, way back before I ever thought about writing novels for adults, I thought about writing novels for middle graders. After all, my husband is a middle school youth pastor, and has been one for over thirty years.  (Yes, thirty years with one age group. Maybe that's a record.) 

At that time, I had written some picture books for wee ones, plus some nonfiction for middle graders--books I saw that our kids needed. Books like HOW TO KEEP YOUR LIFE TOGETHER WHEN YOUR PARENTS PULL APART and NOW THAT HE'S ASKED YOU OUT.  I pretty much wrote books I thought would be useful for "our" kids. 

But I remembered how I loved to read when I was that age, and I particularly liked Nancy Drew. So why not a group of girls who go around solving mysteries? Kids of that age tend to travel in packs. 

So I took the names of kids' on our Sunday school list and created Nicki Holland and her friends. I didn't want the books to be religiously heavy-handed, nor did I want these girls to be saving the world a la James Bond.  I wanted them to solve simple "mysteries" that could conceivably happen in the real world. 

I took the idea to the current publisher of my nonfiction kids' books. They said they weren't sure the books would sell--after all, no one else was writing for that age group--but they'd give me a chance.  No royalty, though.  I was okay with that.  So I wrote the first six Nicki Holland books, and after that small company was purchased by a bigger company, I wrote three more. And that was the end of Nicki and her friends, though by that time I was learning more and moved into another kids' series, the Cassie Perkins series, where the emphasis wasn't on solving crimes as much as it was dealing with real life problems--things I saw "our kids" dealing with: friends, divorced parents, dashed dreams, young love, etc.  I wrote nine of those books, and then my editor said, "Why don't you try writing novels for adults?" 

Why not? 

I've written other books for kids over the years--the Young Believers series, from an idea suggested by Steve Arterburn (that's why his name is on the cover), the Colonial Captives series, and the Cassie Perkins series.  You'll find them all listed under "youth books" on my web site.  


P.S.  Tomorrow:  the research 


The Hesterbrarian said...

My girls have loved these books over the years. Sometimes I even see them pick them up and read them again. I only wish there were more of them. :) We have two copies that were autographed by you when you came to their school in Groveport, OH several years back. Remember that?

Angela said...

Yes, I do remember that--though it feels like just last week or so! :-) Glad to know your girls enjoyed those books. I sure had fun writing them.

That's one thing about writing kids' books--you can give your imagination looser reign, because kids generally don't demand as much plausibility as adults do. It's all about the fun!


Mocha with Linda said...

My girl has inhaled my old Nancy Drew books and collected more. I really want to find these for her. I found #5, 6, & 8 on CBD yesterday. The rest are apparently just available thru individual sellers on Amazon or eBay. I wish Thomas Nelson would re-release them.

So is this how you and Nancy Rue first met - as authors for the tween generation? Love how you were both inspired by the iconic Nancy Drew! (I used to tap on my walls and write out coded messages!)

BTW, I started reading Tom Morrisey's Wind River last night. It made me smile when I opened it up and saw the dedication to you and you husband along with the Blackstocks and Dicksons.

Looking forward to hearing more about Nicki!

Lisa said...

I am going to have to track down these books for my girls. They have just started reading all the Nancy Drew books, and are loving them! I love seeing them enjoy reading so much.

Anonymous said...

Went crazy just now and ordered the whole series on Amazon for my grand-daughter. She and her mama (and Grammy) have loved Nancy Drew, so I think we will have some fun reading in the next couple of months. Guess this means I'll need a new sheet of bookplates, Angie! Clyde

Angela said...

LOL, Clyde! I'll drop some book plates in the mail to you. I have a new design now! :-)

And, everybody, FYI--the paperback Nicki Hollands are out of print and are hard to find. However, the hardback editions are in print and available on, among other places.