How to pronounce Nancy Farmer: Nansee FAHR-muhr
Nancy was born in 1941 in Phoenix. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, earning her BA in 1963. Instead of taking a regular job, she joined the Peace Corps and was sent to India (1963-1965). When she returned she went to Berkeley and sold newspapers on the street for a while, then got a job in the Entomology department at UC Berkeley and also took courses in Chemistry there. Restless, again, she decided to visit Africa. She and a friend tried to hitchhike by boat but the ship they'd selected turned out to be stolen and was boarded by the Coast Guard just outside the Golden Gate Bridge. Nancy was forced to buy an airline ticket. She spent more than a year, living virtually alone, on Lake Cabora Bassa in Mozambique, monitoring water weeds. Next she was hired to help control tsetse fly in the dense bush on the banks of the Zambezi in Zimbabwe. Part of the time she spent in the capital, Harare, and there met her future husband. They married a few weeks later (in 1976) and now live in Menlo Park, California. They have a son, Daniel, who is in the U.S. navy.
Nancy's honors include the National Book Award (Children's Literature) for The House of the Scorpion and Newbery Honors for The Ear, the Eye and The Arm, A Girl Named Disaster and The House of the Scorpion. She is the author of eight novels, three picture books and a number of short stories. Her books have been translated into 26 languages.
Nancy Farmer's website
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Q&A: A conversation with Nancy Farmer, Author of The Sea Of Trolls
How did you decide on the topic for The Sea of Trolls?
The idea for the book actually came from the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill". I wrote part of the novel fifteen years ago, when I still lived in Africa. It was never finished. The original had a bad-tempered cat called Grendelyn who fell into Mimir's Well while trying to catch fish.
Both you and J. R. R. Tolkien have drawn inspiration from Norse mythology. What about Norse folklore makes it such a rich source text?
I didn't realize, until I started studying it, how important it was to American culture. Think of movies like Sergeant York or High Noon. Think of To Kill a Mockingbird or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. These are all stories about solitary heroes who would rather die than give up their ideals or individualism. The heroes come straight out of Beowulf.
Have you always been interested in Norse mythology?
No. As a child I was immersed in Greek mythology so deeply I would dream about the Greek gods. In comparison, the Norse religion seemed crude. It wasn't until I was an adult that I discovered what a rich, complicated culture the ...
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