Bridget Koan // Fall 2015

Alumna Nancy Thayer is the author of more than 25 best-selling novels that focus on the mysteries and romance of families and relationships.

Photo courtesy: Nancy Thayer

New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer (B.A. ’66, M.A. ’69) knew she wanted to write novels at the age of four, long before she even knew what the word “author” meant. She became fascinated that writing books was a real job and soon delved in the world of fiction.

“It’s something I do, like breathing,” Thayer says. “I have always written every day. I have to write.”

Born in Emporia, Kan., Thayer grew up in Wichita. For a long time, Thayer’s base was UMKC. She has fond memories of her student years and later as a teacher.

“UMKC feels like the center of my heart in a way,” Thayer says. “I got a better education at UMKC than others who went to Ivy League schools.”

Thayer’s UMKC teachers opened the world of literature to her. In particular, Warren French, former English professor, had a big impact on Thayer. French mentored her and became a friend.

“He was brilliant,” she says. “He was eccentric. He was funny. He was everything
to me.”

After living in Kansas City for a short while, Thayer moved to Iowa where she also taught, then moved to Massachusetts. While living in other cities, Thayer taught college English courses and continued to write. Her first novel, Stepping, was written while living in Massachusetts. Seeing her name in print for the first time in 1969 launched her writing career and the need to write.

“I was crazy thrilled when Doubleday bought Stepping,” Thayer says.

At the time, Thayer was a divorced mother of two children. Step-parenting was a sensitive subject to write about, but was a realistic topic. Before Stepping was even published, Thayer started on her second book, Three Women at the Water’s Edge.

To date, Thayer has penned 27 novels and her works have been translated into numerous languages. She’s been called “queen of the beach books” by the New Jersey Star Ledger.

Thayer’s books have romantic undertones with subjects that transcend time. Family is at the core of every novel, and her stories allow the reader to escape to another place for a short time.

Now living with her husband, Charley Walters, on Nantucket in Massachusetts, Thayer says she is never at a loss for book ideas. She captures moments from conversations she picks up around her. She says Nantucket is an ideal setting for writing and gathering ideas.

“I watch what’s going on in the world,” Thayer says. “There are a lot of books I want to write.”

One of Thayer’s most shared quotes also best describes her, “It’s never
too late — in fiction or in life — to revise.”


Vacation reads

Nancy shares some of her favorite-penned stories for your next getaway.

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