Finally, after years and years, we have bought a house.  We had a house in Zimbabwe, but lost it and everything else we owned when we came to the U.S.  We immigrated with only $500.  We were so poor we didn’t even have a bed.  Harold, Daniel and I slept on a mattress on the floor with second-hand dog blankets for covers.  When winter came we couldn’t afford to put on a heater, so we curled up together and I read library books aloud for entertainment.  We didn’t have a TV or a car.  In fact we had to think twice about taking the bus because it cost all of 25 cents.  So you can see that owning a house is a huge thing.

The house is wonderful!  It is made out of thick straw bales reinforced by steel girders and keeps the temperature inside just right without heating or cooling.  The ceiling is 25 feet high, perfect for desert living because all the hot air goes up and a fan blows it away.  It used to be an artist’s place and next to the main building is another building with a large studio, large game room and an apartment for visitors.  All kinds of wild animals come to visit – Harold saw a herd of 20 javalinas nearby.  They look like wild pigs and are very curious and also near-sighted.  One almost came up to him.  In the evening dozens of rabbits come out.  There are coyotes and coatimundis that look like skinny raccoons.

The house is in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona just a few miles from where El Patrón had his summer residence and where the Oasis described in House of the Scorpion lies.  Unfortunately, the Chiricahua Mountains are a major drug-smuggling route so everyone has to carry a gun for safety.  I can’t see well enough to fire a gun and will have to trust to luck.  The other hazard is the rattlesnakes.  There are rattlesnakes everywhere and on cool nights they like to lean against the house for warmth.  That’s another reason to carry a gun and also a good flashlight.
   
Now I will answer some questions.  Thank you for wanting another Troll book and I will ask the editor about it when I finish the sequel to The House of the Scorpion.  It’s very difficult to work on two books at once.  When I am in one story, my brain won’t take in anything else.  I can’t even read novels.  All I see is blah-blah-blah because my own story rejects anyone else’s plot.  This is extremely tiring.  Sometimes I would like to take a vacation, but my brain won’t cooperate.

Ashley asked whether Matt and María are in love.  Absolutely.  When people are in love they don’t always talk about it.  They just know it’s true.

Several people have asked how you can keep a story going.  When they try to write, they run out of ideas in a couple of pages.  I was like that, too, when I was young.  I would get bogged down describing stuff and had no idea what I was going to do with the description.  After two pages I was bored and wanted to go for a walk or call up a friend.  Some writers start at an early age, but many don’t.  You can’t really write about things if you have no experiences.  I don’t mean exotic adventures like exploring Antarctica, but the closer-to-home experiences of observing your parents or siblings, getting a first job, falling in love, making a fool of yourself, or doing something brave.  When you find something really exciting, it’s easy to write about it.  And like learning to be an artist or a top athlete, practice makes perfect.
   
I was working on the sequel to Scorpion, but was interrupted by another not-too-scary eye operation and by buying the house.  The first draft of the book will probably be very close to the final draft.  I can’t give an exact date yet.  When I am set up in the new house I will plunge into writing full time.  This means I won’t cook, clean house or answer the phone.  Now and then Harold will steer me toward the shower or put a sandwich in front of me.  Writing can be intense.
   
I wish someone would make a movie of one of my books, but so far no one has shown much interest.  I honestly don’t know why.  The movie companies throw money away on awful remakes of old TV shows.  They think old people will go to see them, but they don’t. 

Special thanks to Jaspreet for his lovely letter.  More kids than you might think feel like outsiders, especially the intelligent ones.  Being an outsider makes you strong if you can get through it.  It’s the people who are content to be like everyone else in a comfortable herd who are missing out on life.
   
Early tomorrow morning Harold and I will travel to the Chiricahua Mountains to look at our new house.  It will take months to actually move in, but we can visit.  There is a forest fire about five miles away and the town is full of fire trucks, but at least it isn’t boring.
6/18/2010 01:27:33 am

This is an inspiring story, and reflects how the nature of the human spirit can and will persevere to survive. I'm certain that this particular region of the United States will be a great place to live; the presence of desert fauna is particularly appealing. I do hope that you will not need to use your firearms for your safety, though!

As with many of the others who have posted to your blog, I also read House of the Scorpion at a young age, and even as an undergraduate student these days, I still find the novel an enjoyable read. Speaking from experience, younger audiences are captivated by how complex and life-like your characters are, alongside the story that follows, although it would appear that a few readers are baffled by the biology! As a bioinformatian, I am quite pleased that your writing is highly realistic. Older viewers will note the subtle message about politics and ethnics in scientific community. When I first read the novel, what I walked away with were the complexities with respect to the differentiation of good and evil, along with individual facades and ulterior motives and the nature of love.

I was very pleased to read that you are already in the midst of drafting a sequel, as it would be most interesting to see what the world is like following the passing of the Alacran family. In a departure from some of the other readers, I very much believe that genuine love can occur under all circumstances if the two people were indeed meant for the other. In this sense, I am looking forward to seeing the growth of the relationship between Matt and Maria. Finally, the subtle overtones about the nature of the relationship between science and politics, along with their implications on international relations in your original novel were highly welcomed.

I hope your move in will be a pleasant one. A large number of readers, along with myself, will be patiently awaiting the release of this sequel. Happy writing!

Regards, The Infinite Zenith (Actual name withheld for privacy reasons)

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rachel
6/18/2010 11:12:11 pm

hey nancy! i was wondering what you were going to title the next house of the scorpion book so i would be easier for me to find it in local retail book stores

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6/20/2010 08:58:43 am

I just finished house of Scorpions and loved it! I am a 39 year old woman living in Connecticut. I was captivated by the characters and story line. I hated to say goodbye to Matt. I am very excited to learn there is a sequel coming...and congratulations on your new move!

I am a little worried about Matt and Marie's safety..however..

Its amazing the parallels you drew to modern societies and medicine...everytime another chapter opened I got shivers realizing the comparisons that could be made.

Eagerly awaiting the sequel. I really enjoyed the reading and the wonderful thoughts you gave me. I must admit..the secret passageway really sparked my attention..it was one of my favorite aspects of the book....I also loved descriptions of the poor captivated souls and the slow build up to the understanding of where they originally had come from..many of the descriptions during the book made me feel like I was standing right there in the fields instead of laying in my bed reading. Thanks for sweeping my mind away for a few days!! loved it!

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Victor Hinz
6/21/2010 01:11:08 am

I have to say I'm glad for your move and that there is a sequal to the House of the scorpion. Also I beileve because of your writing I have become a romantic (not to point fingers). I hope your books get a bit more interest in the movie world and I completly agree with you about the movie industry making only remakes and not somthing fresh. The only company I can think of that does make somthing new is Diseny or Pixar. On another note do you think Matt would every help Rosa from being an eejit, is it even possible?-Just curious.
Happy move and God speed on your writing
(not saying to hurry though. I think slow work is quality work)

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Robert Hoffman
6/22/2010 06:29:19 am

Thank G-d for writers like you. I have read House of the Scorpion about five times, and it is probably one of my favorite books, if not my favorite. I'm also currently half way through The Ear, the Eye and the Arm, which is also pretty amazing. I am almost jealous of all the places in the world you have seen, let alone that you have lived in those places and learned their cultures firsthand.
The movie companies, I think, shall never get their acts together; I have known of several other authors who have written great books that were never turned into movies because of the incompetence of the movie companies. T'is life.
I love your treatise on love in the last post, about how people don't trade off parents or grandparents, and the comment about "professional love-busters" was simply hilarious. What have we come to? Also, it made a good point for the sake of children and their ability to fall in love at a very young age, as you said.
Please continue to write, and good luck with the sequel of Scorpion, which I and many others shall eagerly await. G-d willing, you can finish it well and quickly, but better well than quickly, if you have to choose.

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Cary
6/23/2010 06:25:23 am

If you had to put a label on it
referring to the last sea of trolls book
are jack and thorgil in love?
i cant wait o read the sequel to the house of the scorpion
i hope you someday write a sequel to the island of the blessed
what would you say is a good tip to keep a reader interested ?
because i am currently writing my own comic book series im doing everything myself from writing to designing the characters i am also the inker/artist
Ive got time on my side but i would like to complete my project within seven years and i don't want to seem generic i want to do something that hasn't been done before
i assume that's impossible given everything that happens in literature these days

good luck with your health your move and your writing...
Cary

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Lindsay
6/29/2010 06:43:05 am

Nancy Farmer, I just finished the book
The Sea of Trolls and I think that you are such a good writer. I would like to know, how did you think of writing about a 11 year-old boy who is a farm boy and gets to be the village bard's apprentice then, captured by berserkers and ends up going on a quest to save his little sister?

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Kodie Hill
7/1/2010 05:01:58 am

Me and my wife are having an argument, Nancy. I say that the third book of Sea of Trolls, Island of the Blessed is pronounced Island of the Bless-ed. While she says it is pronounced Island of the Blest.

Did you name it in the archaic pronunciation of Bless-ed or Blest?

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Vincent Chien
7/2/2010 03:09:41 pm

It's been awhile for since I last read The House of the Scorpion, but I did just recently finish The Islands of the Blessed and I absolutely loved it! I know I love a book or series when I get the "blues" of missing the characters. I don't know if you've felt it, but whenever I finish a really good series, I feel a little bit depressed that I won't be able to see those characters anymore. I definitely felt that with Islands of the Blessed. You really should make a fourth book! Jack and Thorgil have so much more potential adventure ahead of them now that it's a whole new setting. And I have to be with Cary (from above) here. Are Jack and Thorgil in love? I'm a sucker for young romantic relationships like those. I need to know if their relationship develops further! Please please please write a fourth book. I wanna read more about Jack and Thorgil. But anyways, you're an excellent writer! You history amazes me. It truly is inspiring. I hope you guys do well now and in the future!

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stephanie
7/3/2010 03:37:34 pm

My 10 yr old son and I have been reading the Sea of Trolls trilogy together (actually, he listens to it because he truly has dyslexia, not the reversing a few letters on the page kind but the real thing in which your brain cannot actually decode letters into sound so you cannot read) and equally love it. He has finished the series, I am limping to the end because I do not want it to end! Like you were, I am and always have been a voracious reader; especially compared with contemporary literature your books rank high. Your story line is deeply captivating and your characters are so wonderfully complicated and flushed out. Of course Jack and Thorgil are in love! Duh! I love the ease with which you place these characters in historical fiction without it seeming like you're trying to teach us what you researched (like so much historical fiction does), I love the time you chose as I've never read anything that takes place in that particular time and place. Weirdly, right before we started reading Trolls, my son studied Norse mythology in school, so completely got all of the northmen references. His dyslexia tutor had just taught him about Viking pillagers and eventual settlers bringing language to the English Isles and knew about the Beserkers and the Picts so it was an odd bit of synchronicity.
Please please write more - add to the trilogy or start another series! Just more of this fabulously rich writing, these wonderful adventures for my son and I!!

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Carole Soden
7/11/2010 09:10:52 am

I teach 5/6 graders on the island of St. Kitts and I have (or should I say had) a lot of reluctant readers until The Ear, The Eye and The Arm. I knew I was "home free" the day one of my learning disabled 6th graders asked to go to the bathroom but told everyone that they had to stop reading because he didn't want to miss anything. The Ear, The Eye and The Arm remains one of the favorite books and every year the new class gets told that they will love this book. I can't imagine anyone else who could write a book that was Zimbabwe in the far future. Having lived in Botswana and RSA, I especially appreciate it. My question is would you consider doing a Skype with my class? Please let me know what you think and what your rate would be? I loved your bio and I can't wait to go back and read your it to my class. (I'm off island in Portland, OR right now) They will love learning about the blue monkey and that there actually was a real kiddie koop. We love all your books (easy to jump the kids on after Ear, Eye and Arm) so please, please keep writing. Thanks, Carole Soden

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Obadiah
7/26/2010 09:21:31 am

Hi Nancy, I absolutely love you books! I've had a question that's been buzzing around in my head in regards to your Troll trilogy. Is the Bard Merlin? He concedes to being very old and the book is set in the 700's (not to mention he's obviously very powerful).

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7/28/2010 10:58:32 am

I have read many books. I have observed many authors. All the way from James Patterson, John Grisham, Stephen King, Ellen Hopkins, and back to you. I'm very pleased to say that "The House of the Scorpion" is my favorite book. I'm not afraid to admit I cried; both times I have read it. It plays with my emotions and that's how I notice it is so well written. I truly hope that you can pour your life into the sequel, like you did in the original, and am greatly looking forward to it. I must say that I didn't understand the book well when I first read it, and I was mostly into it due to the relationship between Maria and Matt. I'm excited to read about it in the sequel and I can't wait to see what happens between them. I don't know what is going to be in the book, as it seems a lot has already been covered and I don't get how the struggle can become anymore than in the original. Maybe more romance between Matt and Maria would be nice to read about. =D Thank you, again, for the great book and story. (I looked up the piece that Matt was playing towards the end of the book when he returns to the Big House, and have fallen in love with Beethoven and the piece "Emperor" from Piano Concerto No. 5, so thank you for helping me fish deeper into music, too.) I'm also writing a book, but I get so lost out of inspiration, so fast. The farthest I've gotten is 20 pages. I don't know how to keep going. The plot is there, I just feel like I want to get to the climax faster, just like when I'm reading, but I know I can't skip the details. I love writing, but I always seem to want to stop midstory. Help?

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Eli
8/20/2010 03:26:00 am

Hi Nancy!
i'm a junior and i have read your book ( The House Of The Scorpion) about three times already, i love the suspence and the mood in the story! But in the past my teachers from 9th and 10th grade year have made me read this book for my english classes, but now i have to write a report of my AP Biology class, its a bummer but reading it again was fun,and i have problems with two questions the teacher left for my summer assignment, the first is how is this book related to the study of biology ( other than in the begining) and the second, what was the purpose of this book?...i would very much appreciate it if you can answer me before this week ends! please, thank you God bless Nancy!

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anonymous
8/23/2010 07:48:03 am

Hate to bring up the subject of The Trolls series again but I was wondering how would Thorgil react if jack was forced into a marriage with a mermaid. Would she care or be jealous. Please put your answer on your next blog and any other questions on your books to.

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Walter
8/23/2010 11:25:35 am

I absolutely love The House Of The Scorpion, and the Troll series. I have read The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm, and Do You Know Me, The Warm Place. And they were not easy to find. But I like Scorpion and Trolls best. Super-psyched for the sequel.

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Anonymous
9/2/2010 07:26:22 am

Another comment on the trolls series. How many here think that Jack and Thorgil dancing would be the event of the century? Also in this series is heaven really just a leaf on the great tree or is it beyond and greater than the tree it self as well as hell? Lastly what would happen if the man in the moon was set free?

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hez
9/9/2010 01:23:17 am

i want a second or maybe even third house of the scorpion

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Andrea Burke
10/3/2010 02:05:27 pm

Dear Nancy,

As you may know your book,The Ear, the Eye and the Arm, was selected as an Oregon Battle of the Books title and is being read by students in over 300 schools across the State of Oregon.
At this time the Oregon Battle of the Books Committee is preparing for regional and State competitions to be held March through April of 2011. We invite you to be a part of this exciting program that enthuses children and young adults to read a variety of excellent literature. There are several ways you could be involved. We would like to know which are feasible for you, how to contact you, and what fee you would require, or if you able to donate any time. Please let us know if any of the following interests you:

1. Attending a regional or State wide competition to serve as an honored dignitary, sign books, and/or assist in conducting battles.
2. Visiting schools in the upcoming months before the battles. If yes, we would like to know your fee and preferred contact information so individual schools may schedule with you.
3. Offer Skype or other online video conferences with schools or at one of the regional battles. If yes, we would need to know your fee for this and how you wish to be contacted to arrange for this type of exchange.
4. Accept email and or letters from students and reply to their inquiries related to your book.
5. Offer signed copies of your book as prizes to winning teams at regional and or State competitions.

Please reply to me, Andrea Burke, volunteer school librarian for Oregon Battle of the Books (andreasueburke@gmail.com). Thank your for taking the time to reply. We understand that there may be geographic, time, or other barriers to your participation. Please know that we celebrate you as a writer and thank you for making a contribution to children’s literature that we heartily recommend to the students in Oregon.

Sorry to use your blog for this invite. I did not have any email for you.


Sincerely,

Andrea Burke
Oregon Battle of the Books
Author Contact Volunteer


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Nancy Readman
10/6/2010 04:52:07 am

Dear Mrs. Farmer: My son Joshua has just finished reading The Islands of the Blessed. He wrote you a letter but I cannot find an address to send it too. So I will type his letter here just as it was written. Dear Miss Nacy Farmer. I have a question for you can you make another book or series of books at least one woud be nice. I'm really loving your books I wish the series of these books would never end but eny way that was my question. Please, thank you for these wonderful books please at least one more adventure with the Bard and Jack keep it up. I hope to see another book. Your loylest reader Joshua J. Readman smilie face.

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Evelyn K.
10/14/2010 09:59:04 am

hey!
I don't know if you'll read this, but if you do i have some really good ideas for your sequel to house of the scorpion...

what if the arsenic that Celia gave Matt gives him cancer and he has to make a clone of his own...

I hope you consider this,
Evelyn

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10/26/2010 03:12:58 pm

I just finished reading The House of the Scorpion and I was captivated! I can't stop thinking about the story! After I finished reading it, I hated myself for finishing it so fast, and now its my favorite book! Also, after reading it I thought that there HAD to be a sequel to it because I just had too many questions that couldn't be satisfied by my imagination and there was just to much promise for the characters, so I was very glad to see there was going to be a sequel!
-Ryan

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Sabrina Nicole Johns
10/26/2010 09:59:54 pm

I love the idea of a straw house even if it does sound cold or hot. I would totally want to live there, as long as i had a choice and more items like a tv, a car, music, art, ect. Really cool ideas of africa. You are so lucky to be able to explore the beautiful country!!!! That is super cool!! -Sabrina Johns

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Cameron
10/26/2010 10:07:06 pm

I like the idea of you writing a book about Africa. Oh and i like cheese alot and chocolate milk.

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10/26/2010 10:08:44 pm

Hey again! I love the cover of this book!!! i love african masks! they totally express yourself!!!!
-Rinanicole

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Cameron
10/26/2010 10:09:57 pm

Oh its me again and I'm reading the ear the eye and the arm.

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12/1/2010 05:06:04 am

I like your books nancy farmer They are very good.

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Hannah
5/11/2011 07:39:04 am

OMG I'LL MAKE A MOVIE OUT OF IT W/ MY FRIENDS!!!!! We really are planning to! (I hope we dont disgrace your book XD)The only real prob is that we dont really have anybody to play the male roles but I've been told I could play
El Patron because of my evil-looking yet innocent nature. I wanna play Maria though. She is my favorite character. El Patron is my second favorite. It's funny when I would have to go to Google Translate to read a couple words to understand completely. Like Mi Vida. I thought it meant my son XD! Love your work!

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Juli Wingert
9/30/2011 01:44:30 pm

I teach 8th grade Language Arts in Lee's Summit, Missouri. My advanced studies class just finished reading The House of the Scorpion, and during our end of the book discussion, I shared your website with them. They were elated to see that you are writing a sequel to the book, and they would love to Skype with you. Are you available to talk with 2 of my classes anytime soon? Let me know your price.

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