January 22, 2020
Dear Book Loving Friends,
Wednesday is officially my favorite day of the week. Another fabulous guest writer has written into Mr. H., and this time it is Author, Lisa Barr. Lisa’s most recent novel, The Unbreakables (Harper), came out this past summer, and guess what…it was a five star read for me. In addition to this widely popular summer read, Lisa also wrote the award-winning novel, Fugitive Colors (Arcade). This novel won the IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award) gold medal for “Best Literary Fiction 2014” and was named on “HEEB” Magazine’s “Top 10” best book list. It also won first prize at the Hollywood Film Festival (Opus Magnum Discovery Award). But did you also know that this well-known author worked in the world of journalism, too? She served as the managing editor for Today’s Chicago Woman and Moment Magazine, editor for The Jerusalem Post, and editor/reporter for the Chicago-Sun Times. Not too shabby!!!!!!! I am so excited to have Lisa on the blog today. She is an inspiring woman to girls and women everywhere. I want to thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to participate in the series. She is an absolute pleasure to work with. So…without further ado…
Happy Reading Friends,
P.S. Did you know that in 1993, Lisa covered the famous “handshake” between the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and President Bill Clinton at the White House? Oh my gosh, she is sooooo cool!🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
It’s a lazy/not lazy Sunday, the first real fall day here in Chicago. I’ve got a fire going strong, a good glass of vino (of course), my dog at my side, and my husband splayed on the couch in the near distance watching football and yelling at the television. Something about a missed field goal. My three daughters are all grown and flown – two are away in college and my eldest baby is officially a working woman in Manhattan – her first job in the real world. It’s just me, my laptop, and my edits that are due. As in yesterday.
But I digress … Earlier this morning, I received one of those pop-up ads on Instagram. A new Nancy Drew TV series debuted this week. And I smiled, thinking about the brilliant teen sleuth who was not doing selfies (back in the day), rather she was developing her sense of self, which came from solving mysteries in her fictional hometown of River Heights. Of all literary characters that came my way, Nancy was my hands-down idol – her life (outside of losing her mother at a young age) was the one I wanted … if only. Childhood was not an easy ride for me and her adventures transported me Elsewhere and inspired both my curiosity to seek the truth and my lifelong love of suspense novels.
I was gifted my first copy nearly forty years ago (where does the time go?), and from that page-turner onward, I devoured the entire series (in order – Hello, Anal-retentive Me). I began, of course, with the author Mildred Wirt Benson’s (pen-named Carolyn Keene) first Nancy Drew mystery, “The Secret of the Old Clock”.
It’s no secret in my house that I credit the feisty young Miss Drew for turning me into a journalist, my life-long job before I became an author.
You can take the girl out of journalism, but not the journalism out of the girl. For me, both careers have worked hand-in-hand and have helped me become a better writer, by providing me with an in-depth understanding of all kinds of characters, all sorts of shenanigans. Forget graduate school, forget professors, forget internships — the hard truth is that Nancy Drew and her courageous posse George and Bess (the original #GirlPower trio) for giving me the goods at a young age. And of course … who didn’t have a crush on Nancy’s boyfriend Nick Nickerson (the name alone …).
Nancy Drew is always with me.
I’m an avid reader with a revolving door of books on a weekly basis. But on my nightstand, there is a permanent place for her. I treasure my vintage copy of The Clue in the Old Album, lucky #24 in the series, originally penned in 1947. This novel shares a permanent home with four other beauties that have each impacted my life and my work in very different ways: The Diary of Anne Frank, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying.
As a Mom of three daughters, Nancy Drew, a teen who relies on her instincts and intelligence, is truly a role model for girls of this generation to aim higher than the Bachelor and the Kardashians (although both are, admittedly, guilty pleasures in our household). Nancy hasn’t aged a day and her appeal is timeless (hence, the new TV series). But more importantly, so is her message: Follow the hunch. Write it down. Life is full of sticky situations – learn how to detangle them. Count on yourself – there are no handouts in life. These are all elements I utilize in my own work and my own life. Oh, and did I mention, Mr. Hemingway, that Carson Drew, Nancy’s beloved father – a top-notch criminal attorney – now seen through a middle-aged lens — is super hot? Just sayin’.
Looking out the window, near my fireplace, I can’t help but think that as the leaves begin to change, setting the stage for yet another Chicago Winter – Nancy Drew and her myriad mysteries have withstood the test of time. A fiercely independent role model, she remains inspirational and unstoppable. A young, motherless woman who thrived despite the obstacles in her path, Nancy Drew – was and still is – badass. My kinda girl.
As always … Much love, laughter & literary bliss,
xoxo Lisa Barr
P.S. Would love if you’d check out my new novel, The Unbreakables and my award-winning historical thriller Fugitive Colors. Red wine is must while reading — I’m sure, Mr. Hemingway, you will have no problem with that 🙂