Monday, April 26, 2010

The Nancy Drew Effect

Without Nancy Drew, the titan-haired, forever-eighteen-year-old sleuth there probably wouldn't be a Sarah Conrad (the heroine of my book).

In this day and age, it's hard to create a place for a teenager to have the kind of freedom that Nancy Drew had. She was free because she had a car, which gave her the ability to go where she wanted to, and a semi-absent father who thought it was great that his daughter was a detective. Many children today have to wait until their later teens before they can drive. They're connected constantly to their parents by cellphones and are growing up in a society that eschews risks.

I decided to send Sarah Conrad to boarding school because I wanted her to have the kind of adventures and experiences that Nancy Drew did. It would be hard for Sarah to do that living at home, even with workaholic (and therefor absent) parents. For example, if Sarah wanted to go out at night, she would have to ask permission, explain where she was going and say why. At boarding school, Sarah makes these decisions by herself and for herself. It leaves a lot of room for character development and plot angles.

There's another reason why I sent Sarah to boarding school: I always wanted to go to one myself. From Madeleine to traditional British boarding school series such as Elinor M. Brent-Dyer's Chalet School on to more mature modern works such as John Green's Looking for Alaska and E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, I've been fascinated about the kind of independence that children and teenagers have at boarding schools.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it true there is a fabulous teacher in this story?...