SHARON HARRIS describes herself as "a huge Nancy Drew fan,"
from the time she was a second-grader and read her first book about
the perennially popular detective.
Now a writer and teacher, Harris still reads Nancy Drew books
and keeps up a lively dialogue with other fans by way of her
computer. She has set up a Web site and an e-mail newsletter that
chats about children's books, with emphasis on the Nancy Drew
Ostensibly for children, the online newsletter attracts many
adults, men as well as women, Harris said. She often puts items
about the Hardy Boys series in the newsletter, as well as other
books read by both girls and boys.
Frank Stratemeyer, who died in 1930, dreamed up both Nancy Drew
and the Hardy Boys. The head of a thriving book syndicate,
Stratemeyer devised hundreds of characters and plots, then hired
ghostwriters to turn them into books for young readers.
He died in 1930 before the Nancy Drew books he had outlined
were published. His daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, carried on
the syndicate and wrote the Drew books under the pen name Carolyn
Harris said she sometimes gets e-mail from readers who ask if
she's aware that Nancy Drew was the creation of a man and that
"Carolyn Keene" has really been various writers over the past 60
years. Of course she knows that, Harris tells them. In fact,
there's little about Nancy Drew she doesn't know; they've been best
friends for years, and Harris even identifies with her in some ways.
"I have strawberry-blond hair like she does," Harris said, "but
I don't drive a blue Mustang convertible. And I've never even known
a boy named Ned (Nancy's boyfriend)."
Harris' husband's name is Jim, and his interest in Nancy Drew
and all other children's books is non-existent, Harris added. In
fact, she said, he thinks she ought to sell her big book collection
at a garage sale. Not a chance, she's told him.
The Harrises recently moved into a house in Richmond Heights.
Most of her books are still in boxes in the attic, where she plans
eventually to set up a small office. She titled her online
newsletter "Under the Attic Window" but not because of her own
"I chose the name to suggest a child rummaging in an attic,
finding some old books and settling down to read them under a
window," she said.
Encouraging children to read is the primary goal of the
newsletter. And Harris sees nothing wrong with getting them hooked
on the joys of reading with light fiction. …