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JUNE 28, 2010
In the Author's Own Words ~ Nancy Pickard

Please join me in welcoming Nancy Pickard, author of the award winning Jenny Cain mystery series and several excellent standalone novels. The latest,  The Scent of Rain and Lightning. received a star review from both Booklist Magazine & Publisher's Weekly. Read  Why Kansas? and share in Nancy's love of her home state.


Hi, everybody--
 I'm writing to you from Very Warm Kansas, the state where I live and where I have mysteriously decided to set my novels.  I say "mysteriously," because--let's be honest here--most people think of my state as flat and boring.  What kind of foolish writer would try to lure readers to a state like that?

This one would, and I'll tell you why.

A few years ago--after having written books set in Mass., Ct., N.Y., Fla., Ala., Ariz., Colo., and just about everywhere but here--I was struck by a couple of things.  One was, how very Midwestern I am from the soles of my feet to the gray roots of my hair.  I have never lived anywhere but the Midwest.  This part of the country is not only what I know best, it's what I love best. 

Why do I stay?  Because I love it, that's why.  Because it's beautiful, and dramatic, and endlessly interesting in its history, its geography, and its dramatic contrasts in everything from scenery to politics. Because behind the stereotypes and misconceptions are real people doing their best in difficult economic times, and because I'd like to show readers that Kansas, the one I love.  My own political ideas are 180 degrees different from the majority of folks here, but our hearts beat to the same desires to love and be loved, to do right by our families, to live good lives. That's the place I aim for when I write these books--the deeply-felt places where human beings have so much in common, even if we sometimes express it in contradictory, confrontational, confusing, foolish, or even violent ways.

A few years ago, I was swept by a desire to do nothing but write novels about Kansas for the rest of my life.  I don't know if I will go to that extreme, but so far that desire has not ebbed at all.  First there was The Virgin of Small Plains, and now there is The Scent of Rain and Lightning.  I'm currently writing the--untitled--third one, with a fourth one already percolating in my brain.  Each is or will be set in a different part of Kansas--places that call to my imagination so strongly that they will not let go of me until I write about them.  In each case, the characters seem to reflect where they live, which makes them different from one another.  But they are all the “same” in that heart place I mentioned earlier.

It's gratifying to me to hear readers say of my settings, "I never knew there were places like that in Kansas!"  It's even more satisfying when they tell me they visited the settings of my books.  It thrills me to know that people might be inspired to get off I-70 and go take a look at the beautiful Flint Hills or the amazing Monument Rocks (which I call Testament Rocks in "Scent.")

I've come home to Kansas, and I'm so grateful when you come with me!

Best regards,

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