Secret of the Attic Window St. Louis Writer's Web Site Attracts Nancy Drew Fans of All Ages
Sue Ann Wood Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
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 series.
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 Keene. 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 book-filled attic. "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. …