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Nina Mansfield: Inspired by Nancy Drew

I started writing books when I was five years old. My first book was a fantasy for children, written on old typing paper and illustrated with crayons. Alas, Cindy and Sally in Polka Dot Land has been lost to the ravages of time.

Nina MansfieldI attempted to write my first play when I was seven. I had a heck of time trying to get kids to rehearse it on the playground.

I discovered mysteries at age nine when I read my first Nancy Drew, one of my mother’s tattered green editions from the 1950s. Around that time I also got addicted to Donald J. Sobol’s Two-Minute Mysteries. At age twelve, I was introduced to the works of Lois Duncan and Joan Lowery-Nixon by an amazing reading teacher, Mr. Bucci. He also critiqued my first mystery story, and gave me an excellent piece of advice: I needed more than one suspect.

In my teens, I wrote a lot of angsty poetry about heartbreak and, well, more heartbreak. And then, after my junior year of college, I interned at New Dramatists in New York. One evening, I read stage directions for a reading of a new play by renowned American playwright Robert Anderson. When I was returning on the train home to Westchester from the city, I had idea. It was just a line of dialogue, but I could not get it out of my head. I found a crumpled envelope and a pen in my purse, and I began writing. When I got home that night, I wrote and wrote and wrote until, at about 4 in the morning I finished the first draft of what would eventually become NO EPILOGUE, my first produced and published play. It would be the first of many.

I eventually returned to graduate school for an MA in Educational Theater with Teaching English at NYU. In grad school I read a great deal of young adult literature. It was during my first year of teaching high school in New York City that I decided I wanted to write a young adult novel. It would be a mystery, because that is what I loved at that age. And it would be filled with suspense, because that is what my students craved. My first summer off I wrote the first draft of SWIMMING ALONE.

I am not a writer that can stick to one genre. My plays tend to be wildly comic, but some are sad and serious.  Most of my plays are short and they often have characters who are driven a bit mad by the circumstances in their lives. That theme can be found in much of my work on one level or another. Despite the serial killer, SWIMMING ALONE is fun and snarky. My short mystery fiction is darker. I’ve also written a graphic novel called FAKE ID: A MORALITY TALE, a girl-power adventure filled with twists and turns that will be out next year from Plume Snake. So I’m all over the map with my writing. But I like it that way. I never get bored. And I never know what I am going to write next.

SWIMMING ALONE, A Young Adult Mystery

The Sea Side Strangler is on the loose in Beach Point, where fifteen-year-old Cathy Banks is spending what she thinks will be a wretched summer. Just when she begins to make friends, and even finds a crush to drool over, her new friend Lauren vanishes.  When a body surfaces in Beach Point Bay, Cathy is forced to face the question:  has the Sea Side Strangler struck again?


Nina Mansfield is a Connecticut based writer. Her debut novel, SWIMMING ALONE a YA mystery, was published by Fire & Ice YA in 2015. Nina has written numerous plays, which have been published and produced throughout United States and internationally. Her graphic novel FAKE ID: BEYOND RECOGNITION, illustrated by Leyla Akdogan, will be out with Plume Snake in 2016. Nina’s short mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Mysterical-E. She is a member of ITW, MWA, SinC, SCBWI, The Short Mystery Fiction Society and the Dramatists Guild.

Connect with me online: 


PLAYS by Nina Mansfield

NO EPILOGUE (as Nina Waluschka) http://oneactplays.net/noepilogue.html

CRASH BOUND (as Nina Waluschka) http://oneactplays.net/crashbound.html

CLEAN   https://www.originalworksonline.com/CLEAN-by-Nina-Mansfield_p_54.html

THREE MORE MARRIAGE PLAYS  http://www.oneactplays.net/threemoremarriageplays.html

ERASING THE BRAIN   http://www.youthplays.com/play_details.php?play_id=106

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