Ask the Author: Nancy Springer

“Ask me about THE ODDLING PRINCE!” Nancy Springer

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Nancy Springer Thanks for enjoying Enola, Bruce! Of course I am tremendously excited about the feature films to come, but I know very little; I am not in communication with Hollywood. I know somebody said "series," and I hope there are grandiose plans, but practically speaking, what happens will depend on the success of the first movie, don't you think? Thank you for being a fan.
Nancy Springer Thanks for being a fan! As for the cover art on the first book, you'd have to ask the artist, but I'm pretty sure the idea was simply to appear mysterious and cryptic. The "letters" in the trees have no meaning as far as I can see. But I love the 221b running backwards in the wrought-iron fence! Again, I truly thank you for being a reader.
Nancy Springer Thanks for asking, Cassie! Yes, I do think some publishing house is likely to want to acquire some new Enola Holmes novels now. I don't expect to be active in making the film, but I do get some nice perks. Hmmm, what shall I wear to the premiere?
Nancy Springer No, confound it, despite how well Enola continues to sell. But I haven't given up. I have a new book coming out soon -- fantasy, THE ODDLING PRINCE, in May or June of 2018 -- and after that the Enola Holmes graphic novels published in France are to be translated into English! I don't know when, but maybe that will give me an opportunity to market the new Enola books again. Cross your fingers, and thanks for asking!
Nancy Springer No! I am so bummed; my agent can't find an interested publisher, despite how well Enola continues to sell. But I haven't given up. I have a new book coming out soon -- fantasy, THE ODDLING PRINCE -- and after that I plan to start nagging about Enola again. One fun thing is that the Enola Holmes graphic novels published in France are to be translated into English! I don't know when that happy even is to occur, but when it does, maybe it will provide the leverage I need. Thanks for asking!
Nancy Springer Danielle, you're not going to believe this answer. My editor was responsible, in an indirect way. I had been working with this editor for years, doing the Camelot books and the Rowan Hood series with him, and I knew he had an uncanny sense for marketing. So I paid attention when he phoned me and told me he wanted something set in deepest, darkest London at the time of Jack the Ripper. I wanted to say, Whaaaat? Jack the Ripper? and I'd never written historical, but I kept my mouth closed and gave the matter some thought. My childhood love of King Arthur had led me to write I AM MORDRED and I AM MORGAN LE FAY. My childhood love of Robin Hood had led me to create Rowan Hood, Robin Hood's daughter. By any chance had there been something set in the late nineteenth century.... Elementary, my dear Watson. Sherlock Holmes. I couldn't give him a daughter; that would have been scandalous, but I created a younger sister for him, named her Enola (a name that had fascinated me for years) and all else followed. Thank you for liking Enola. I'm happy to say my editor liked her too.
Nancy Springer Abby, music I like completely seduces me and puts me into a motionless, staring trance. So I cannot have any turned on while I am writing. Sorry I can't say "Mozart" with any truthfulness.

Have you seen the Enola Holmes graphic novel -- in French?
Nancy Springer Thanks for your interest, Bethany! I certainly want to involve Lady Cecily; I want her to be Enola's BFF, and to seek treatment for her personality problems from an alienist (pioneer psychiatrist) in Germany. However, I'm told the novel I wrote (Enola and Lady Cecily) requires too much backstory and that I should start afresh and simply with Enola helping/competing with Sherlock. I have done so, but that novel is still seeking a publisher. As for Enola's growth, there's a problem: the year is 1889, and quite specifically in 1891 Sherlock Holmes "dies" at the evil hands of his arch-enemy Moriarty. I do not want Sherlock to die for Enola. Stay tuned.
Nancy Springer Tracey, thanks for your enthusiasm! I wish I could give you a timeline, but so far the project is still on first base. Keep cheering!
Nancy Springer Thank you for being a fan! Yes, there really was a "language of flowers," although it varied slightly from place to place, and several reference volumes existed on the subject. I made up the title of the one Enola had, but it was representative of what did exist. My personal favorite is "Language of Flowers" by Kate Greenaway.
Nancy Springer You know, when I wrote the first Enola Holmes book I intended to keep going ad infinitum, but Enola insisted on progressing as a person with each book, thus ending the series at six. The character arc was her idea.

Put another way: I write in very much the same manner that Enola ran away from Ferndell, prepared for most contingencies but planning not to plan, thereby hoping to outsmart myself. There may be some sort of plot or theme in the forthcoming books that I haven't heard about yet. We can hope.
Nancy Springer Kristine, after writing fifty books, I don't take more than a few months to do a first draft, and I take pains to nail it as close to a final draft as I can; the less rewriting the better.
As for specifics about the Enola Holmes series, I don't remember exactly how long it took to write any of them, and I guess I'd rather not know. They were challenging and sometimes enormously painful, rather like childbirth, and my recollection is quite blurry. None of them "wrote themselves" yet they all wrote themselves because that's the way I write. What made them difficult was parameters: 1888 London, dark, three plots (finding missing person, seeking Mom, evading Sherlock), feminist, show Sherlock how it's done, and a new code or cipher in each one. !!! Plus all that research. Insane!!
But now I'm ready to try again....
Nancy Springer Zoe, kudos for asking exactly the right question! My agent and I were discussing how to get Enola Holmes out of the kidlit ghetto. In Victorian times, teens functioned as adults, so it's not hard for me to write the next batch of books a little bit "older," hoping they will find a wider audience.
Nancy Springer Lisa, I dream of a boxed set...but we're both getting ahead of ourselves. While I have every reasonable hope that a publisher will pick up the new Enola Holmes novels, this putative publisher may have no interest in the original books, which were packaged as a knee-jerk reflex to the age of the protagonist. Enola intends to come across as older this time.
Nancy Springer Eris Augustine, Enola herself was content to stop after six books, but her readers never let up messaging and e-mailing me that they wanted more. Truth to tell, sequels scare me; they're seldom as good as their origins, and I never like to do the same thing twice anyway -- as a writer I'm all over the map. I detest self-imitation. But after hundreds of requests, it seemed as if I should at least try...and lo and behold, Enola obliged with greatest zest! I'm delighted to be spending my days with her again.
Nancy Springer Hi, Chrissie. Yes, working with AND behind his back. The first book just went out to publishers TODAY, but I have a reasonable expectation of finding a publisher. How many more books will be in this next Enola Holmes series depends on two things: how many the publisher is willing to take on, and how many years of writing do I have left in me. Thanks for asking!
Nancy Springer Lala, those books were my first floundering efforts, and I assure you there was no master plan. I wrote The Black Beast when I thought I was done with Isle, and I made Vale the reverse of Isle, much the same shape but surrounded by mountains instead of ocean, and kind of shadowed. Being able to combine the two worlds in the next book was a lucky fluke, an inspiration. It's been almost forty years since I wrote those books, so it's hard to remember how much of the process was conscious and how much was unconscious, but I'm pretty sure reasoning or planning did not have much to do with it.
Nancy Springer Hi, Meghann! I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you before this. What inspired me to start writing is such a long, fraught story that I'm going to refer you to the bio on my webpage, nancyspringer.com, or to my bio on Amazon.com. Thanks for your interest!
Nancy Springer For a long time, what made me write was not so much inspiration as desperation. I had mental/emotional problems resulting in obsessive daydreaming and I coped by offloading the daydreams onto paper, where I was able to shape them into fantasy novels. When I started to feel better, I switched to writing in other genres, and what made me write at that point was the satisfaction of having written and published! I had found something to do that I was good at and that made me feel good. On top of that, I eventually became my own person, opinionated, contrary, and at times downright weird. Some of my more bizarre ideas inspired my writing.

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