Nancy Pickard

Biography

Nancy Pickard
  1. “If you read for pleasure, there’s probably more pleasure per inch in Pickard’s work than almost any other current crime novelist.”
    Cleveland Plain Dealer
  2. “Pickard has evolved into a novelist of substantial literary power.”
    The Denver Post

My life, between the lines. . .

the author, Nancy Pickard

Photo by Walt Whitaker

What if you could read the usual author bio, and as you read along you could also hear the writer whisper in your ear some of what’s behind those boastful, calculated lines? (Wicked chuckle) Let me lean over your chair while you read. . .

Nancy Pickard is the author of eighteen popular and critically acclaimed novels, including the Jenny Cain and Marie Lightfoot mystery series.

(Psst. Then there was that first novel I wrote, the one that didn’t get published. Actually, it was a novel and a half, because I tried redoing it, but it still just sat there like a dead trout. One of the editors my agent sent it to, the legendary Hope Dellon of St. Martin’s Press, was kind enough to write a long critique of it in which she said something that really helped me improve my next effort. She said my book couldn’t make up its mind whether it was romantic suspense or a mystery. I saw she was right. When I then wrote Generous Death I made sure that although it had a lot of romance, the mystery took precedence. And this time, it sold, to the third publisher it went to.)

She is the author of dozens of short stories. . .

( I had another major learning curve with short stories. I sold the first one I ever wrote as an adult (there had been one in high school). Amazing luck, right? But then I couldn’t seem to give them away. I was so frustrated and disappointed, having no clue what I was doing wrong that I had apparently done right in the first one. Then one day I heard another short story writer remark that every short story needs an epiphany. Well, I had one right there. Light bulb going off in my head, the whole ah ha moment in a flash. I realized my stories lacked that crucial turning point where somebody changes, or the plot changes in some entertaining way. I went home and went back to work and sure enough, sold the very next one, and then kept selling them.)

. . . and of three novels in the Eugenia Potter series created by Virginia Rich..

(Those were hard. I bit off more than I could chew, though I’m pretty satisfied, on the whole, with how they turned out.)

She is the co-author, with psychologist Lynn Lott, of the beloved non-fiction book about writing, Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path, of which the best-selling writer Sue Grafton says, "I can give you seven reasons to buy this book for every writer you know. It's fresh, insightful, candid, funny, supportive, encouraging, and wise." A writer whose work covers an amazing span of the mystery world, from the classic cozy to private eye stories, and from humorous mysteries to psychological suspense. . .

(Partly I do that variety thing because I can’t help myself. I get bored doing the same thing over and over and have to try new things. But I also do it because each time I try something just beyond my present capabilities it’s as if I am taking advanced writing courses, and I always want to keep improving and learning, for as long as I can.)

Nancy has won the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Barry, and Shamus awards for her short stories. She won the first-ever Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original Mystery for her second Jenny Cain novel, Say No to Murder. She has won multiple Agatha and Macavity awards for her novels. The Los Angeles Times says, “Pickard pushes at the presumed limits of (crime fiction).” The San Diego Union says, “Nancy Pickard is acclaimed as one of today's best mystery writers. Mounting evidence suggests that this description is too limited. . .Pickard (is) one of today's best writers, period.” She is a 4-time Edgar Allan Poe award nominee, having been a finalist three times for Best Novel and once for Best Short Story. Her three Edgar-finalist novels are: I.O.U., The Whole Truth, and The Virgin of Small Plains. She is also a Mary Higgins Clark award finalist, and a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award for suspense fiction, from Romantic Times. In her hometown area that includes both the Missouri and Kansas sides of the state line, she has received The Thorpe Menn Award from the Kansas City, Mo. branch of the American Association of University Women and the Don Coldsmith Award. Two of her novels, The Virgin of Small Plains and The Scent of Rain and Lightning have been named Kansas Notable Books. The Virgin of Small Plains was the Kansas Reads Book of 2009.

(Psst again. I don’t care what anybody says–awards are nice. It’s encouraging to get one; it’s a happy, satisfying moment after the long trudge of writing. Awards have helped my career, and lifted my spirits, and given me courage to go on-- and given me cool stuff to put in bios like this one. I’m really grateful. I am especially grateful for the generous and warm local support I have received from readers, other writers, librarians, and other lovers of books from all over my native state of Missouri and my home state of Kansas. Actually, "grateful" doesn't begin to express it: I love them.)

She is a founding member and former president of Sisters In Crime, the international organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers, and she is a former national board member of the Mystery Writers of America. She founded a local chapter of Sisters in Crime called, “Border Crimes,” for which she served as the first president and where she teaches a “book dissection” group once a month.

(Boy, am I normally not an organization kind of gal, nor am I somebody who longs to get out at the front of the parade and lead it. But Sisters In Crime was an organization whose time needed to come and I felt that I couldn’t not take an active role in it. As for MWA, I thought I needed to pay my dues, in a working kind of way, to the organization that has supported mystery writers for so long.)

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