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Wendy Hart Beckman

Hi Michelle:

I really identified with your column today. I liked Cherry Ames, but my inspiration was Nancy Drew. Not only did I want to have a boyish friend and her plump cousin and to drive a roadster, but I wanted to write. When I was growing up in the 60s. I wanted to be the next Carolyn Keene. When I found out that, except for the first couple of dozen volumes, there were many “Carolyn Keenes” I decided that I wanted to be a Carolyn Keene.

I haven’t written any novels about spunky teenage heroines with titian — or any other color — hair, but I have published three books with a fourth one coming out this month. (Three of the first four are young adult nonfiction.) A few years ago, I started assembling the Nancy Drews of my childhood. My best friend and I shared our books, so her parents and mine coordinated which Nancy Drews we got. My friend’s birthday was in December, mine was in January, with Christmas in between the two. So for two months, we could count on getting at least four new Nancy Drews each and four more to read. However clever this was for our parents, it meant that Sherrie and I each only own half the series. So now I’m filling in the gaps. I decided that I would take no volumes published after the 1970s, to be consistent with my own volumes. This task is clearly for me, because I have three sons, one of whom who doesn’t even like to read much! (He can’t be my biological child! I wonder who the mother is?)

While searching the Internet (especially Powells.com, they have great selections of used books), I found an autographed first edition of the Secret of the Old Clock, which is the first book in the series. The asking price was something outlandish (or so I thought) like several hundred dollars. I didn’t buy it. The next week, Mildred Wirt Benson died at the age of 96. Now I wish I had put my money on the barrelhead.

And I’m still wishing that I could be the next Carolyn Keene….

Thanks for a great column!

Wendy Beckman

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