Oh hi octopi! Today I am finally logging back onto the blogosphere to bring you My Hero Monday, an invention of Chloe at A Girl’s Voice. (To find out more about My Hero Monday, click the link above or in the image, it’s super awesome.) Due to scheduling miscommunication I was slated to go on the 10th but was told I’d be posting on the 17th, so I apologize for any confusion that may have caused. This month’s November linkup is being led by my friend nevillegirl and, in honor of NaNoWriMo, is themed as female authors. I chose Nancy Garden.
Date of Birth:
May 15, 1938
Nancy Garden died on June 23, 2014. She was 76.
She earned a B.F.A. and later an M.A. from Columbia University School of Dramatic Arts.
What books has she written? Which one is your favorite? Why?
I never liked picking favorites. I haven’t read nearly all of hers yet, but here’s a timeline of (most) of her fiction:
- What Happened in Marston (1971)
- The Loners (1972)
- Vampires (1973)
- Werewolves (1973)
- Witches (1975)
- Mist Maiden (1975)
- Fours Crossing (1981)
- Annie on My Mind (1982)
- Maria’s Mountain (1983)
- Watersmeet (1983)
- Prisoner of Vampires (1984)
- Peace, O River (1986)
- The Door Between (1987)
- Lark in the Morning (1991)
- My Sister, the Vampire (1992)
- Dove and Sword: A Novel of Joan of Arc (1995)
- My Brother, the Werewolf (1995)
- Good Moon Rising (1996)
- The Year They Burned the Books (1999)
- Holly’s Secret (2000)
- Prisoners of Vampires (2001)
- The Case of the Stolen Scarab (2002)
- Nora and Liz (2002)
- Meeting Melanie (2002)
- Molly’s Family (2004)
- Endgame (2006)
- Hear Us Out! (2007)
Out of these, my favorite is still the classic, Annie on My Mind. It’s one of the few romances I have read and actually enjoyed, for several reasons. For starters, it doesn’t ignore the existence of queer people. Often called one of the first books to feature lesbians in a positive light, it’s a welcome change from the breathtaking world of heteronormative romantic fiction, particularly in YA. I also like that she doesn’t jump into the romance portion right away–she allows Liza and Annie, the main characters, to build a friendship first, then lets that develop further. I love how she really maintains the tension between them, because I’ve seen plenty of novels that have failed to do this. It’s also super relatable, and I can see myself in the characters of both Liza and Annie. It’s one of those books that says what I’m feeling before I even realize I’m feeling it.
When did I first hear about her?
I honestly can’t remember the first recommendation for one of her books that I got, but it was somewhere around the time I was discovering my own queer identity. I’d heard great things about her writing but never actually delved into it, but then one day I was hanging at the library for a couple hours when I found Annie on My Mind on the shelves, and the rest is history.
What makes her one of my heroes?
Nancy Garden had guts. Being a lesbian in the 20th century was never easy, and being a lesbian in the 20th century writing about lesbians in the 20th century was bound to draw controversy. But Garden didn’t let this get in her way. She repeatedly spoke out for LGBTQ+ youth, both in her writing and speeches. She dared to pioneer the genre of lesbian fiction with positive representation, a genre that even today needs more substance, and even after her books were burned and banned, she kept going. She didn’t just write YA, either. She wrote picture books, middle grade, horror, serious literary fiction, and even non-fiction, holding genuine respect both for youth and youth fiction. She was an out woman who stayed with her partner and stayed with her passion, regardless of any dissenting voices that crossed her path.
“I like children and teens so much and feel they’re important, special people. There’s something very exciting about a person who’s in the process of becoming, of forming his or her identity. I think another reason is simply my love of children’s books–and Y/A books, although there were no Y/As as such when I was growing up. Some of the best, most exciting, and most innovative writing, I think, has always been in the children’s and Y/A field.” – Nancy Garden
“Don’t punish yourselves for people’s ignorant reactions to what we all are. Don’t let ignorance win. Let love.” – Annie on My Mind
“But what really is immorality? And what does helping someone really mean? Helping them to be like everyone else, or helping them to be themselves?” – Annie on My Mind
“It was her eyes I noticed most. They were as black as her hair, and they looked as if there was more behind them than another person could possibly ever know.” – Annie on My Mind
” ‘Gay,’ Sally said softly. ‘Oh, Liza, what a sad word! What a terribly sad word. Ms. Baxter said that to me and she’s right. Even with drugs and liquor and other problems like that, most of the words are more honestly negative – stoned, drunk out of one’s mind…’
I think it was at that point I did take hold of Sally’s arm – not to shake her, but just to shut her up. I remember trying to keep my voice from breaking. ‘It’s not a problem,’ I said. ‘It’s not negative. Don’t you know it’s love you’re talking about? You’re talking about how I feel about another human being and how she feels about me, not about some kind of disease you have to save us from.'” – Annie on My Mind
And that’s it! Check the schedule below for past/future posts that you should definitely go read. And, as always, I appreciate any book recommendations you may have, or your thoughts on the books I listed.
nevillegirl @ Musings From Neville’s Navel