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Nancy Etchemendy

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Nancy Etchemendy was born in Reno, Nevada in 1952. Deserts, sagebrush, horses, real cowboys and Indians, abandoned silver mines and the occasional mobster were everyday parts of her childhood. She had a lot of different pets, including but not limited to dogs (Sugar and Doggin), cats (Harvey, Herman, and Ralph Snavely), a goat (Cathaleen), a parakeet (Petey), and two unnamed ducks who pooped a lot. While attending the University of Nevada, she worked at many interesting jobs. Her favorites were hardware clerk (She knows the difference between a clevis pin and a cotter pin), printing press operator (200 copies per minute), and cabaret singer (not that unusual in Reno).

She wrote her first story at age seven with a chartreuse crayon that needed sharpening. It was about ghosts in the “food room.” (She couldn’t spell kitchen yet.) By the time she was ten, she was churning out tales of interplanetary adventure instead of doing homework. (Ask Mr. Frick.) She wrote her first book the instant she got out of college, saw it published a few years later, and has never looked back.

Why does she write what she does? She thinks her dad has something to do with it. In his younger days, he was a science fiction reader who loved to invent things and speculate about the future. He and his friends never talked about ordinary stuff. They talked about perpetual motion machines, satellites, and robots. They argued over the economic feasibility of hydrofoils and whether a parachute could be redesigned to carry a man in a controlled flight. It all came true. (Except the perpetual motion machines.) She eavesdropped and sucked it all in like a sponge.

Dad also kept magazines around the house with swell names like Analog, Astounding, and Weird Tales, which she read secretly under the covers at night with a Girl Scout flashlight. They contained spiffy stories about triangle-shaped guys from Pluto and computers who thought they were human. There was some kissing, too, but she usually skipped that so she could get to the juicier parts where the monsters came in. In short, she grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. As for horror, after reading Edgar Allan Poe and Saki, she was soon making up her own dark tales for the pure joy of scaring her younger sister, Cecily. (They shared a dark, dark bedroom.)

She lives and works in Northern California, where she leads a somewhat schizophrenic life, alternating between unkempt, introverted writer of weird tales and gracious wife of John Etchemendy, Stanford University’s Provost. They have one son, who is all grown up and currently lives in Salt Lake City, which seems startling at first, but like everything else, makes sense when you hear the whole story.

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Nancy Etchemendy

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Posted by on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011. Filed under Who's Who. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.