Saturday, December 17, 2022

Q&A with Nancy Tandon


Photo by Darcy Johnson



Nancy Tandon is the author of the new middle grade novel The Ghost of Spruce Point. She also has written the middle grade novel The Way I Say It. Also an educator and speech-language pathologist, she lives in Connecticut.


Q: What inspired you to write The Ghost of Spruce Point, and how did you create your characters Parker and Frankie?


A: Over 20 years ago, my parents retired to Maine. What seemed like an odd choice at first became an incredible gift as they cultivated a wooded retreat on a beautiful rocky peninsula where my kids got to spend glorious childhood summers with cousins.


Every visit inspired me creatively, and I worked for years to try to capture the magic and atmosphere of coastal Maine by writing a multitude of poems and picture books. None of my early work was successful, but I feel like I finally accomplished it with this story!


Parker, his sister Bailey, and their cousins each represent kids in my own life. Although their personalities and genders are fictionalized, I always knew there would be a “foursome” of year-round kids who lived on Spruce Point.


Frankie, Parker’s friend whose family rents a cottage on the point, burst onto the page of her own accord, which is pretty funny given her personality. She is bold and fun and a natural leader. And she’s definitely a character whose choices and decisions helped lead the story for me.

Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, in part, “An eerie ghost story morphs into an anthem for cooperation amid climate change in Tandon’s...camaraderie-filled Maine mystery.” What do you think of that description?


A: It’s always interesting and fun to see how other people summarize something that it took you years and over 200 pages to write. I’m happy that something with my name on it has been equated to “an anthem for cooperation” as that’s an underlying theme I’ll always be proud of.


The fact that they highlighted the climate change component of the story surprised me a little, as it’s not a huge focus of the book. However, it is a scary reality for folks living in coastal towns and I’m pleased that people looking for more middle grade fiction that touches on that topic might be led to Ghost.  


Q: As noted, the novel takes place in Maine--how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: In this story in particular, the setting was paramount, and I meant for it to become almost a character on the page. But with anything I’m writing, I love to bring sensory elements onto the page, so setting is always important to me.


When I’m adding sounds, sights, and smells to my scene work, I love to immerse my imagination in the setting and experience things the way the characters would. One way I “trick” myself into this mode is to choose a particular candle/smell for each novel which I then light during writing sessions. It’s also a way of signaling to myself to stay in the chair and keep working!


Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: For some magical reason, the story of The Ghost of Spruce Point came to me as a fully fleshed synopsis first. It was such a gift (and hasn’t happened before or since)!


However, the joke was on me when my editor asked me to move the climax (finding out who/what the “ghost” is) way up in the timeline. I was flummoxed and had to create entirely new story elements to lead up to a new and more exciting climax. It really stretched me as a writer, and in the end made for a better story. I was frustrated then, but very grateful now!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: As a new author, I am working on figuring out how to balance marketing my books that are out with the creation of new ones! I have a story that’s close to my heart that was my “pandemic” outlet, which is in revisions. I also have a really fun project that is my first attempt to co-write, which I hope to be able to share more about soon!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Signed personalized copies of my books are always available at Just specify at check out who you would like the book signed to and where to send it, and the bookstore staff and I will do the rest!


Thank you so much for hosting me, Deborah!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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