Nancy "N.E.'' Castle
Occupation: Quality consultant and author
Originally from: San Diego, California
Residence: Shrewsbury, with her partner Edward Armstrong
Nancy Castle is a woman of many titles and talents: former private investigator, quality control consultant in the biotechnology industry, and author. Her most notable work is her award-winning children's series, "Loogie the Booger Genie.''
The Shrewsbury resident can be found writing on the commuter rail, at lunch or hunkered down for the afternoon at a table in a local restaurant. She finds her inspiration in life's little -- and laughable -- moments.
She is currently working on capping off the Loogie series, and has three other projects in the works: a sequel to her first book "Serial,'' a screenplay, and a young adult sci-fi paranormal thriller.
You are a former private investigator. How did you get interested in that career?
"I was really excited by the whole investigation piece. I always wanted to be a detective, so I went to school for it, spent some time as a private investigator and then realized I didn't have the gut for it. It wasn't for me. I then drifted into the pharmaceutical industry, got a degree in biotechnology from Worcester State.''
What made you decide you weren't cut out for private investigation?
"I worked undercover for a couple of years for a local guy who was an ex-undercover cop who owned a business where people would work undercover at companies to weed out the people who were taking drugs, drinking on the job, things management knew anyway but had to get proof of. I realized it really wasn't for me.''
The "Loogie the Booger Genie'' was not your first book. What was your first book and how many books have you written?
" 'Serial' was my first book and I am working on a sequel to that called 'Road Rage.' I am also working on a young adult sci-fi paranormal thriller, and I also have a screenplay in the works.''
"Loogie the Booger Genie'' is an award-winning children's series. How did you get the idea for that character?
"You really want to hear that? I had a really bad cold. I was in a class at the time and the worst part was that I had to keep getting up and running to the restroom to blow my nose. I just made it inside the door when I blew a giant snot bubble before I could get my hand on a tissue. I remember I was thinking 'Thank God I made it into the bathroom and nobody saw that ... That was big enough for a genie to come out your nose!' So some time later, I woke up one morning and had a bit of the sniffles and reminisced back to that snot bubble and he literally popped into my head and I started laughing.
It took me a while to get it published. I submitted it to Random House, but eventually published it myself. It received a Silver Medal for the best juvenile fiction. There are three books in the series, and a fourth "Loogie'' that is in the final stages.''
How did you start writing?
"I've always been writing since I was about 10 years old. I've always wanted to be a writer, but never had the stamina. You just have to get past that first book. I would sneak off at lunch with my little palmtop (a hand-held computer) and type out several chapters at a time. Then, once I had a bunch of chapters, I started to realize a common theme, and then I turned it into 'Serial.' I knew I could get there, I just had to get over that first hurdle.''
What is the most difficult part of writing?
"We all have individual challenges. I am a little ADD. With 'Loogie' the challenge was to keep it simple; with 'Serial,' I had to keep it fast enough to keep people interested. Sci-fi is a different realm and I find myself having to constantly reach for the 'sci' part of the 'fi.' ''
How do you find your ideas?
"Loogie just literally popped into my head. I didn't have to go out of my way to find him, he just appeared there. The sci-fi paranormal book, that was a dream that had some very vivid bits there. I had to stop and write it all down before I had a chance to forget it. I also bounce ideas off my friends. Sometimes they might be part of a conversation. The screenplay I am working on, for example, was part of a conversation I was having with my partner as we were driving through Worcester and drove past a sign for pole dancing and we started talking about 'wouldn't it be funny if ...' and now we have a screenplay about what would happen if pole dancing went to the Olympics.''
Where do you like to write?
"I do a lot of writing on the train (commuter rail to work). I like to have a lot of people around me. No one really talks on the train, so it is perfect. I have ideas that come up that I put aside, but I write them down as soon as I get them. I might never be in that same frame of mind again to come up with that idea.
Before, I had to commute an hour to work and an hour back. Driving was stressful and the last thing I wanted to do was go write. So I planned to go in early and grab an hour to write before everyone came in, but that became an hour catching up with my boss. I enjoyed that, but this is good because there is really no distraction on the train.
I get distracted easily. I need noise. I also go to The Westender (restaurant) in Marlboro at 1 p.m. on Fridays. I show up and start writing.''
What is it like writing?
"When I am 'in the zone,' I am gone. I am literally watching a movie in my head and I am writing it down. The most difficult part is finding the time. What I like the most is when it is just flowing. When I have to kick the characters, it gets draggy.''
Who is the illustrator for Loogie?
"Bret Herholz. He lives up the street and we met at Borders bookstore. They used to bring local artists to set up on Black Friday. He writes Sherlock Holmes graphic novels.''
What's next for you?
"After Loogie 4 comes out, I need to dive into that young adult novel and that screenplay.''
Contact Donna Boynton at Donna.Boynton@telegram.com or follow her on Twitter @DonnaBoyntonTG