Nancy Pearl occupies a unique position in America’s literary ecosystem, said
in Seattle Magazine. A librarian who’s attained rockstar status, the longtime reading evangelist was working at the Seattle Public Library 19 years ago when she launched the idea of having a whole city read the same book at the same time, an initiative that spread across the country. She’s since become an NPR contributor and local TV host, and though the 72-year-old bookworm has had an action figure modeled after her (the doll has a “push to shush” button), she claims to do little except consume more literature. “I don’t have a life,” she says. “I live my life through the books I read.” The funny thing is, she didn’t even intend to write a first novel, until the title characters of her justpublished debut, George and Lizzie, popped into her head.
Pearl wasn’t in a normal state of mind at the time, said
in Publishers Weekly. Having just undergone foot surgery, she may have been feeling the effect of painkillers when she first glimpsed them: a married couple who’d met in a Michigan bowling alley and had differing ideas about what marriage should be. Then they didn’t go away, reappearing to Pearl during quiet moments for years. “A sentence would appear and I would fiddle with it,” she says, discovering the couple’s story as George and Lizzie slowly revealed themselves, snapshot by snapshot. Once Pearl began piecing together that story, though, George and Lizzie surprised her again by guiding her to throw out the ending she thought they were heading for. “I mark it down,” she says, “to their having matured more than I realized during the time I was writing.”