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Hello and Welcome

My Brand

I'm Nancy Thalia Reynolds and I live just north of Seattle, Washington. I write fiction for children and nonfiction about children’s literature.

On this website you can check out my books, including reviews and excerpts, credits and clips, and links to articles I've written. This page explains who I am now, and my bio explains how I got that way.

My latest book looks at how mixed-heritage people (multiracial, multiethnic and transracially adopted) are presented in fiction and nonfiction for young adults. Because I write about what interests me, and a lot of things do, my books and articles cover many topics. Most often, I’ve written about travel, adoption and parenting, arts and education, culture and lifestyle. I particularly enjoy writing humor and reading it. When I’m especially fed up or stressed, my medication of choice is P.G. Wodehouse.

I’m a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada and if I could, I would collect citizenships, just as I used to collect stamps on my passport. I love to travel. And I love to be at home.

Some jobs come and go—some are permanent. I’ve been a social worker, college instructor, paralegal, lawyer and technical writer. I’ve been and still am a wife and mother, writer, writing coach and editor. And I have many other interests that I’m unwilling to sacrifice.

Preparing this website, I was conscious that all of us hanging up our virtual shingles are advised to pick one topic and specialize in it, become our own brand, as it were. That way, we’re easier to find on the web, and likely to draw more eyes to our sites.

I tried. I really did. But some of us don’t fit into prescribed categories, or else we willfully refuse to be boxed in, for better and/or worse. Hunting through my tangled skein of careers and published works, I searched for a common thread to use as my “brand.” To my surprise, I found that my proclivities actually point to one:

• I am drawn to expats, to contrarians, to those who have no desire to fit in.
• I seek out borders and boundaries separating opposing cultures, values, beliefs, politics. Some dividing lines are peaceable; some are demilitarized zones, separating hostile forces.
• The closer I am to that dividing line, the more likely I am to make new and interesting discoveries.
• Living between two worlds is a lot like living in the intertidal zone. One must learn to survive in 2 or more vastly different ecosystems. It is stressful, but also fertile and creative and never dull.
• If I had to sum myself up in a word, it would be “synthesist.”

Well, OK then: my specialty, my brand, is synthesis.

My fiction

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling and writing stories. Year after year, I planned to devote more time to it, but earning a living and raising kids came first. When my children were teens, testing their wings and making nest-leaving noises, I took a leap of faith and returned to school for my MFA in creative writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. For the first time ever, I excelled at school. For the first time ever, I Won Things, (the Alumni Award and the Critical Thesis Award). Most of all, I wrote and wrote and wrote.

My main characters tend to be contrarian, like me. Similarly, I’m drawn to characters who straddle boundaries, who don’t fit into their cultural niche and are never quite at home anywhere. No matter how serious my story is, humor finds a way into it. I can’t keep it out.

This is an exciting and terrifying time to be a writer. The whole publishing industry feels at times as if it’s heading over a cliff. For those of us whose fate is tied up with it, change has become the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. Yet amid the upheavals, a zillion writers worldwide enlist in National Novel Writing Month each November. Year round, writers write and join critique groups; readers buy books and join book clubs. Whatever else changes, our hunger to tell and receive stories is hardwired, part of what makes us human.

The Intertidal Zone