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In Conversation With The Nancy Drew Collector

I have loved Nancy Drew since I can remember, always hunting down books at garage sales when I was young to add to my collection and staying up much too late on a school night in order to "solve" the mystery right along with Nancy. It has been a number of years since I picked up a book in this series, but when I came across Megan's Instagram account, the Nancy Drew Collector (@nancy.drew.collector), I got all of the nostalgic feels. Megan has been a collector of Nancy Drew books and merchandise for over two decades, and has one of the most incredible collections that I have ever seen. I knew I just had to chat with her about her collection, her love of Nancy Drew and the work that goes into curating such an amazing collection. Megan has also provided some beautiful photos of her collection, which I am so excited to share with you all. Now, let's get into the interview!

Ashley: Hi Megan! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. It is always exciting to meet someone who has a fellow love of Nancy Drew! Before we dive in, can you share a bit more about yourself?

Megan: Sure! I have been a Nancy Drew fan and collector for about 20 years! I’m very much an introvert, so when I’m not doing Nancy Drew things, I like to go antiquing and thrifting or stay at home to get cozy with a good book, movie, or TV show! I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Video Production and I currently work as a video editor, but my dream is to someday own a used bookstore!

Ashley: What is your first memory of Nancy Drew, and what has kept that love alive all of these years? I can remember making pillow forts and taking my dads camping lantern and hiding away to read on rainy summer days. The feeling of adventure and intrigue has kept me going back to Nancy Drew, but has grown into a love of reading in general that has stayed with me ever since.

Megan: I remember my mom handing me my first Nancy Drew book when I was about 7 years old! She tried to get me to read them before that, but I thought they looked too old and boring haha, so funny to think about that now! But she did finally get me to read them, and once I did, I was hooked! I remember in elementary school having stacks of Nancy Drew books on my classroom desk, I couldn’t get enough! Although, the strongest memory I have of reading the books as a kid is the smell that the yellow pages had whenever I’d open one to read…it was the best.

Ashley: This year marks the 92nd anniversary of the Nancy Drew series. Why do you think this series has stood the test of time, and still has such a devoted fan base that grows each year?

Megan: I think that Nancy Drew has stood the test of time because she grows with each time period. Through the years she has aged to each generations “normal”. Her independence, boldness, will to bring criminals to justice, and her love for people is what makes Nancy who she is, and those are things that appeal to every generation of readers and makes her timeless!

Ashley: Throughout the years, the Nancy Drew series has kept a pulse on what is going on in the world, and has evolved in response to the political, social and economic climate at any given time. Nancy has been able to reflect to her audience an intelligent, strong, capable and creative woman - a feminist role model, an adventurous spirit who goes after what she wants. What does Nancy Drew represent to you?

Megan: This is such a difficult question for me to answer, it feels like there’s so many layers! Growing up, diving into the world of Nancy Drew was an escape for me. She felt like a familiar friend that I could count on to be there no matter what, even when I had no one else. For all these years, no matter what has changed in my life…Nancy Drew is still the same. She has also shown me that we are capable of so much more than what other people expect out of us. Even though she was created in a time where women were told that their place was in the home and in the kitchen, she didn’t let that stop her from going out and doing what she loved or what she felt was right, and she never apologized for it. We may feel like we’re stuck in the box that society or someone else put us in, but we aren’t. Just like Nancy, we have the right and the power to be bold enough to get out of that box and to be who we want to be, and to do what we want to do.

Ashley: What is something that you think people would be surprised to learn about the Nancy Drew series? For me, it was the fact that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for a variety of authors who collectively wrote the series.

Megan: A lot of people know that books 1-34 were revised, but a lot of people don’t know that 8 of the books were given a completely different plot when they were revised! But something that I feel like a lot of people really don’t know is that the original Carolyn Keene, Mildred Wirt Benson, began writing the series at only 24 years old! She pretty much put herself, her desire for adventure, and her own ambitions into her writing as she was forming the character of Nancy. She was basically a real life Nancy Drew, as she learned how to fly a plane, went on archeological adventures, hung up her hammock in Mayan temples, and even got kidnapped while in Guatemala when she was mistaken for a princess… and proceeded to escape!

Ashley: You run the Nancy Drew Collector Instagram, and have for years now. What made you decide to start this endeavor?

Megan: I didn’t really have anyone in my life to talk about Nancy Drew with, I had some friends who casually read the books and/or played the games growing up, but weren’t really into it like I was…especially as an adult. With it being such a big part of my life and who I am, I just really needed a platform where I could gush about all things Nancy Drew and share my love and knowledge with others. I was hoping that I would be able to connect with fellow fans that way, and man did I ever!! I have made so many friends through my Nancy Drew Collector accounts, and I am so so grateful for it. <3

Ashley: You have an incredibly impressive collection of Nancy Drew memorabilia and books. What is the piece that started it all?

Megan: Thank you so much!! I can’t remember what my first book or piece in my collection was (I have a terrible memory), but according to my mom we found an article about Mildred Wirt Benson that someone had used as a bookmark in one of my second hand Nancy Drew books… and that’s how we discovered that Carolyn Keen was just a pseudonym, and that fascinated me! So that caused me to want to start researching all about Nancy Drew and start collecting everything I could get my hands on. I wish I still had that article, I would love to find it so that I can frame it to keep as a memory.

Ashley: What is the most sentimental item in your collection, and, if you are comfortable sharing, what is the story behind it?

Megan: The most sentimental item in my collection is probably the copy of “The Secret of the Old Clock” that my significant other surprised me with a couple of Christmases ago. It’s very difficult to find a copy of that book with the first formatting, with or without the dust jacket, and I never thought I’d be able to find one in my price range. He knew how badly I wanted one, so he hunted one down…and when he handed it to me on Christmas morning, I bawled. Not just because of what it was, but because of the gesture. He knows nothing about Nancy Drew, but the fact that he researched about it and hunted down something he knew I’d been wanting for years and years means so much to me.

Ashley: There are so many Nancy Drew collectables - I truly never realized just how many. From Special Edition books, to coloring books, puzzles and toys to games, lunch boxes and so much more! What are some of the most unique pieces in your collection?

Megan: Oh this is a fun question! One of the most unique items I have is a Braille edition of #167 “Mystery By Moonlight”. I only have the second half of it, as the Braille editions were released in 2 parts, but it’s not an easy thing to find! Another one of my favorite unique items that I have is a copy of #19 “Quest of the Missing Map” that was used in the opening scene of the 2007 Nancy Drew movie! The red ‘My Nancy Drew Private Eye Diary’ that I have is another unique item, as is my 1961C-87 copy of “The Mystery of Lilac Inn” (there were only 2 print runs of this title with the 3rd cover art before the formatting changed to the yellow matte picture covers) and my “Smoking Ned” copy of “The Secret of the Wooden Lady” is also a unique item, as only the first four printings of the book have an illustration that shows Ned holding a cigarette. My favorite out of all of them though is my copy of #15 “The Haunted Bridge” that is signed by Mildred Wirt Benson!

Ashley: Being a collector of anything is a lifelong endeavor, and it seems like there is always something new (or old) to procure. What is a collectors' piece that you do not have yet, but really want?

Megan: There are sooo many! The item I want the most is a 1st/1st printing of The Secret of the Old Clock with the dust jacket still intact! Other ones high on my list are the Nancy Drew Madame Alexander Doll, the white version of ‘My Nancy Drew Private Eye Diary’, the Nancy Drew Halloween Costume from the 70s show and the Nancy Drew watch from the 70s show, just to name a few!

Ashley: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start their own Nancy Drew collection?

Megan: Don’t let other collectors intimidate you! It can get frustrating, especially when you’re first starting out, when you see all of the things that other collectors have in their collections. As a collector on a budget, I often get discouraged when I see someone obtain something I’ve had my eye on or something I’ve been dying to get my hands on! But you have to remember that you can only collect within your means, and that’s okay! Just because you can’t collect the way you want to right now, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to in the future! But when it comes to finding items, Ebay is a great place to look! Also make sure to check out thrift stores, antique shops, yard sales, flea markets, used bookstores, Facebook Marketplace etc. because you never know what you may find! And if you’re ever unsure if a price is good or not, search for the item on eBay, and then filter it by “sold” items to see what price that item has been going for! But if you are going to start seriously collecting the original series, I highly recommend getting the Farah’s Guide because it’s the only way to know truly know what you have! There’s a lot that goes into collecting Nancy Drew, so research as much as you can!! And don’t use Wikipedia ;). and are great places to start! I also have informative posts on my Instagram page about collecting, and I condense information down to make it easy to understand!

Ashley: For people who have never read Nancy Drew (gasp!), where would you recommend they start?

Megan: Man, this is a hard question!! To be honest, I wouldn’t start with the first book…if I had started with that one I don’t know if I would have continued the series (haha!). I might recommend starting with a book from the Nancy Drew Files series, as I find that series easier to read as an adult, but if you want to start with the original series…try to pick one of the earlier books! Normally I wouldn’t condone judging a book by its cover ;) but when it comes to Nancy Drew, just choose one that has a title or cover that intrigues you! Some can be hit or miss, so if you read one you don’t like, try another one!

Ashley: There are hundreds of Nancy Drew books that have been published since 1930, so I know this next question may be difficult! What are your top three Nancy Drew books?

Megan: My top 2 are easy! I always say the original text version of #21 “The Secret in the Old Attic” and #76 of the Nancy Drew Files, “The Perfect Plot”. Coming up with a 3rd is really hard haha, I might say #126 “The Riddle in the Rare Book” this time, but since there’s over 600 Nancy Drew books, that answer tends to change as I continue to read them!

Ashley: I saw on your Instagram that you have a few Nancy Drew cookbooks. What are some of the most interesting recipes in them?

Megan: Only 1 Nancy Drew cookbook was made, and I’ve actually never made any of the recipes from it! One reason is because I’m too scared to bring either of my copies into the kitchen because I don’t want to ruin them (I tend to be pretty clumsy haha), but also because some of the recipes are a little…odd, at least in the original version from the 70s. In 2005 it was rereleased, and it went from 111 recipes to 106 because they took out some of the stranger dishes. Some of the titles have me questioning how good it is, such as “Old Stagecoach Sausage Loaf”.. like.. what the heck is sausage loaf? There’s also a chicken salad recipe that calls for bananas….why?! I’ve heard from a lot of people that most of the recipes are terrible, but I’ve heard good things about Chief McGinnis’ Waffles and I’m sure there has to be other good ones! Maybe someday I’ll actually try to find out for myself!

Ashley: I have not yet watched the Nancy Drew television show that CW created yet. What are your thoughts about it, and would you recommend it?

Megan: Okay…I have a very long and thought out answer for this that I send to people whenever they ask me this very question! So I’ll give you a condensed version here haha. I was very hesitant about the show at first, but as I watched, I started to enjoy it for what it is, and it just keeps getting better. To me, it's a great homage to the character, because they bring aspects from all the various Nancy Drew series, including the computer games! And you can tell that the people behind it are either fans themselves or they've done a lot of research, because there's references to things only true fans would know. I also feel that the actress who plays Nancy, Kennedy McMann, is the PERFECT combo of Nancy from the original text version of the original series and Nancy from the Nancy Drew Files series! I think what throws a lot of book and game fans off is that they seemed to have based a lot of it off of the Files series, and even more so on new comic book series, which took a lot of liberties. It's obviously more adult than the books and games, and I'm not fond of how supernatural it is.. but it's not totally unheard of from the books. I do wish there was more of a focus on Nancy’s sleuthing and not as much of a focus on the supernatural element, but it does start to focus more on the mystery aspect in later seasons. I don’t mind Nancy being edgier, because when the books were first published, Nancy was considered to be very edgy, rebellious, and not a good role model like she was in the revised text that most people today probably grew up with. That being said, what they're doing with Nancy for the new show is just trying to take her original character and personality and put it into this time, which I actually think they're doing a good job of. While I'm not happy about many of the changes, the essence and character of Nancy herself is there! Yes, it's definitely not what we're used to, but I think its pretty accurate to how it would be if she was created today, so yes, I do recommend the show! Believe it or not, that answer is a lot shorter than my original answer! Haha.

Ashley: In that same vein, what are some of your favorite Nancy Drew remakes that have been created over the years?

Megan: My all time favorite is the one from 1977 starring Pamela Sue Martin as Nancy Drew! She’s a great Nancy Drew, and the series somehow gives off the same feeling as the books, at least in my opinion, and I absolutely love it. I actually like almost all of the Nancy Drew on screen adaptations! The only ones I don’t like are the 2019 Hidden Staircase movie (absolutely terrible), and the 2007 movie starring Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew, which just feels like a mockery or spoof of the character to me. I like all of the other character portrayals in the movie, and I enjoy the mystery, but I just don’t like Nancy in it at all.

Ashley: What would you like to see happen next with the Nancy Drew franchise? I would love to see a new video game - I can only imagine how stunning it would be with all of the new technology we have now. I would also love to see a new graphic novel collection!

Megan: I would also love to see a new video game, one is supposedly in the works so hopefully we don’t have to wait too long to get it! A new graphic novel collection would also be great, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we at least saw a new comic book series soon! I would love to see a Nancy Drew movie that takes place in the 30s or some other time other than our current one. I would also love to see a new Nancy Drew book series aimed towards older readers, something in the vein of the Nancy Drew Files series!

Ashley: You have a shop called The Throwback Shoppe. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Megan: Sure! I have always loved to be creative, and during quarantine in 2020, I found that I really needed an outlet for my creative side, especially since we couldn’t go anywhere. I also have always loved anything nostalgic, so I decided to open up an Etsy shop where I could sell nostalgic things that I found as well as things that I make, and I really enjoy sharing those things with others! All of my items are original designs and not actual images of the characters that they’re based on, because I don’t sell anything that goes against copyright laws, which seems to hinder my sales, but I don’t feel comfortable changing that. So I sell a lot of Nancy Drew inspired items, such as handmade soap based on book #4 “The Mystery at Lilac Inn”, a Sleuthtastic Journaling Kit that’s perfect for ND game fans to take notes with, as well as jewelry, bookmarks, stickers, sun catchers and pins. For the past few years, I’ve also sold Nancy Drew inspired mystery boxes during the holiday season! I also sell a few items that are based on other fandoms that I love, as well as various decades. I really love to sell Nancy Drew books and other vintage children series books as well! I would love to eventually be able to put more time into my shop, so hopefully that’s something I can do in the future!

Ashley: Where else can people connect with you?

Megan: I’m on Instagram as @nancy.drew.collector where I’m rebuilding after losing my original account to a hacker, I’m on TikTok as @nancydrewcollector where I’ve been trying to more actively post, I’m on Facebook as NancyDrewCollector and have a Facebook group you can join there as well! I love getting messages from fellow fans, so if anyone ever has questions about Nancy Drew or just wants to talk about it, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I’m the most active on Instagram so that’s the best place to reach me!

I had such a great time chatting with Megan, and getting to know her more! Nancy Drew will always have a place in my heart, and I love how fellow fans can find each other and chat and enjoy the fandoms that they love. Do you have a favorite Nancy Drew book? We would love to know!

Thank you for spending your time here today - we'll see you next week!

All photos in this post are from Megan at the Nancy Drew Collector.

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