“Because her name is easy to mistake with that of a certain blonde amateur sleuth in a little blue roadster, Nancy Rue often finds more name recognition than she expects. This is somehow fitting, because it was partly her childhood admiration for Nancy Drew – in the days when she read everything she could get her hands on – that made her dream of becoming a writer.”
So begins the “Who Are You, Nancy Rue?” section of her website, and Nancy Rue is not a pen name. She’s been married for fifty years to the real Mr. Rue.
As soon as I read Nancy’s middle grade novel, Sophie Flakes Out, I knew I had found a writer after my own heart! I love twelve-year-old Sophie, who accomplishes the same things I always hope Debbie does in my World Without Sound series—teaching readers such qualities as love, loyalty, and forgiveness. I decided if I could interview this author of over 100 books, I would feel so blessed.
From our first email, Nancy couldn’t have been more gracious. We arranged a Zoom interview and chatted writerly topics and laughed about author quirks for over an hour.
For the broad view, Nancy Rue has been publishing books for over forty years. Young teen fiction, women’s fiction, suspense with a touch of romance, nonfiction—she freely admits she was fortunate to be noticed as a writer during the “Golden Age of Christian Fiction.”
With our modern age of Amazon, self-publishing, and traditional publishers no longer marketing their authors the way they did in times past, Nancy confesses she may never have tried to write a book at all in the current atmosphere.
There’s no way I can include everything we talked about, but here are my highlights.
LINDA: Do you have a favorite spot to write?
NANCY: I spend a good portion of my writing time in the real settings of my novels. Right now, I’m writing a women’s fiction series set in Concord, New Hampshire, so I’ve visited Henry David Thoreau’s farm. I’ve researched the American authors who lived there, like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott, and I actually wrote in the house Thoreau was born in!
LINDA: All that preparation sounds like you might be more of a plotter than a pantser.
(Aside to readers not familiar with those terms): “Plotters” take a long time to outline details of their story before they write a word of the manuscript. “Pantsers” write by the seat of their pants. They know where they’ll start the story and end it, but in between is a lively adventure as they explore their story.) I’m a pantser. Can you tell?
Back to the interview.
NANCY: I am a plotter. I love to research and to explore my setting and my characters. I write a detailed outline, and once it’s finished, the details of my story flow with ease. Also, there have been times when I’m writing two books at once. Planning out both books is absolutely necessary. In fact, it’s better if I overplan.
LINDA: So Sophie was well-planned. What was the seed of the idea to bring Sophie to “life” in twelve books?
NANCY: Having already enjoyed success with my Lily series, Zonderkidz asked me to create a new anchor for another series they were calling FaithGirlz. I chose Sophie—a girl much like I used to be. I may be over seventy, but I still remember what it was like to be twelve years old.
Sophie is full of imagination but not terrific at school. A daydreamer. In my opportunities to meet other girls in that age group at school workshops, I’ve met many girls with those qualities as well. I felt they would connect with a character like Sophie.
LINDA: You certainly succeeded. And since Sophie is similar to real girls you’ve known, what do you want your readers to come away with after finishing one of your books?
NANCY: Books affect readers, and children are so vulnerable in middle school. They are constantly comparing themselves to their peers and believe they’re lacking in essential qualities. I want them to know they are not weird, and my responsibility as an author is to encourage them to listen for Jesus in their prayers. What does He have to say to them? Don’t listen to kids who are also struggling to “find themselves.” Don’t let them tell you who you are. My book, Mean Girl Makeover, stresses this theme.
LINDA: I love how you make sure to show readers that Sophie tries to connect with Jesus, especially when she’s feeling confused. As a writer, do you have a favorite scripture?
NANCY: Thank you for asking. I love Matthew 11:28-30, specifically in The Message:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
LINDA: I’ve always appreciated those verses, but what a poetic translation!
Can you see how I’ve experienced my first fan crush on a middle grade author?
Nancy’s Sophie Books, Lily Books, and FaithGirlz Bibles are still available. If you have a girl aged ten to fourteen in your family, check out Nancy Rue’s books for tweens. And if you love a good story for yourself, click here for her Reluctant Prophet Series—my favorite of her adult fiction.