WEIRD RESEARCH? by Nancy Springer

I do a lot of weird things, but seldom in the name of research. In my life weird things just seem to happen, and then if I can incorporate them in a novel, wonderful.

That said, I did set out to do some snake-handling before I wrote DUSSSIE. Yesss, three ssses. Sssnakesss hisss.

DUSSSIE was a kids’ book about a junior Medusa who was sorely perturbed one adolescent morning to wake up with the ultimate bad hair day, meaning her locks had turned into live snakes, all nonpoisonous native American species. Originally I figured an ordinary girl’s head would hold thirty-seven snakes of varying kinds. Later, at the insistence of my editor, I reduced the number, but I still had garter snakes, black snakes, king snakes, corn snakes, ribbon snakes, rat snakes, milk snakes, green tree snakes — numerous snakes forming kind of a Greek chorus around and within Dusie’s head.

So I needed to get a tactile feel for snakes. This would have been no problem, except they’re hard to catch. Eventually I went to a nature center and persuaded someone to let me hold a little yellow snake (corn snake) for a while. I felt thrills and chills at the sensation of solid muscle encased in polished scales. But I really needed to drape a number of snakes around my neck and shoulders all at once. I eventually found a state park employee who raises and breeds rat snakes, corn snakes, etc. He captured a number of wild snakes with interesting color mutations and has now succeeded in breeding technicolor snakes in every conceivable neon shade or combinations thereof. He was more than happy to let me play with his beautiful pets, and I learned a great deal from him, such as, snakes grow calm and sleepy when placed in a dark fabric bag. Hence, Dusie can get hers to shut up (mostly) by wrapping a towel around her head.

Born in New Jersey, I was brought up to have no fear of snakes. We loved to see garter snakes and black snakes in our back yard. But now that I live in the Florida panhandle, I am surrounded by people who were brought up to flee in terror from even a tiny snake — and necessarily so, because the child who plays with a pygmy rattler or a coral snake is a dead kid. It’s too bad that this irrational fear holds over into adulthood.

I mention this only because any time I want to inflict shock and awe on a social gathering down here, all I have to do is mention that I like to handle snakes.

About the Author:

Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, having written that many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery — although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. DARK LIE is her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan, now 35, and Nora, 31), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

Find Nancy online at,,1000015705,00.html,,9780451238061,00.html Dark_Lie_Nancy_Springer!/NancySpringerNovelist

In this gripping psychological thriller — smart, chilling, and unrelenting — Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve…

To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Clark seem a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they appear to be. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a dark lie — beset by physical ailments, alone within herself, and unknown to those around her, following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.

Then one day at the mall, Dorrie, horror-stricken, sees Juliet being abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after them — an act of reckless courage that pits her against a clever, depraved killer, and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. In a confrontation that unites mother and daughter in a terrifying struggle to survive, Dorrie must face and conquer her own secret, tormented past.

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