I am half-way between houses.  Some of my stuff is in California and some in Arizona.  Almost everything is packed, so when I try to cook something I find pots and pans missing.  Or I have only a teeny plastic fork to make mashed potatoes.  Or I find that the can of condensed milk that expired in 1991 has turned GREEN and smells like wet dog.

We spent Christmas in the new house in time for a blizzard, the first Harold and I had ever seen.  The snow blew sideways in gale-force winds and in the morning birds pecked unhappily at the frozen bird bath.  Those of you who live in cold climates are probably used to this, but we’d only seen snow a few times.  A troop of javalinas (they look like wild pigs) chomped up the prickly pear cactuses under the bedroom window.  The snow didn’t last that long because this was southern Arizona and the sun dried everything up.

Even in such cold weather illegal immigrants moved back and forth across the Mexican border.  The Border Patrol was staked out on all the back roads, and one day they sent in a helicopter to rescue someone stranded in the snow.  They sat all night long in their vans with the motor off and the lights out.  They must have been cold, too.  During the day they searched for horse droppings on trails because the cartels move their drugs on horses.  When the animals get too old, the drug dealers abandon them to die in the desert.  The Border Patrol rescues these horses when they find them.

Now I will try to answer some of the letters you have sent me.  First of all, I am not going to do anyone’s homework.  There is a lot of information about me on this website, if you look around.  I am, very slowly, working on the sequel to Scorpion.  The problem is that my office isn’t set up in Portal yet and the laptop I’m using now has a black keyboard with green letters that I can hardly see.  Also, I don’t like working in little spurts.  Once I’m in a book I work all day and don’t stop unless the house is on fire.

Our son Daniel painted the walls of my new office and patched the cracks in the floor.  It is a huge room, bigger than I’ve ever had, and filled with beautiful light.  It used to be an artist’s studio.  There were racks to hang paintings and there was paint spilled everywhere.  Someone had allowed a dog to pee all over the floor and it stank.  I scrubbed everything until it smelled fresh.  The artist left behind a small refrigerator where I think he stored martinis.

No one has an option on making a movie of House of the Scorpion.  The rights are held by my publisher, Simon & Schuster, which means that anyone who wants to do a screen play or make a film has to deal with them.  They are a big company and difficult for a first-time film maker to deal with.

To Keiko, who wondered whether I really did marry my husband two weeks after I met him.  Harold proposed to me ONE WEEK after we met.  It took a little longer to set up the wedding.  We have been happily married for 35 years.

To Jacob Garcia:  I speak a little Spanish, but I’m not that good.  I learned it as a child, but it wasn’t grammatical and everyone thought I sounded like a hick.  I have read a lot of Spanish books, though, and when I get to Portal I will really study the language.

To Micky:  The Islands of the Blessed is out in paperback.  If you can’t find it, ask the librarian at your local library to order it.  Then you don’t have to spend any money.

To Tessa:  I read your thoughtful book review, for which thank you.  You will see a lot more of the country of Opium in the sequel and (perhaps) get a look at the United States.  Authors usually have to choose a point of view and stick with it.  Some pick first person (“I did this, then I did that” etc.).  I chose Matt’s view point, to make people experience his feelings from inside.  If I had chosen the omniscient viewpoint, I could have moved from character to character and explained things that only the author could know.  (“If you looked down on the mansion of El Patron, you would have seen red tile roofs with extensive gardens and clusters of eejits clipping the grass with scissors” etc.)

For Souzie:  Benito and Senator Mendoza died.  Matt did not see any dead bodies.  He was told about them by Daft Donald.  He is not going back to the convent to tell Maria.  What he does next will be in the sequel.

For Martockla:  Thank you for your ideas.  I was, in fact, thinking of using an evil African drug lord called Glass Eye Dabengwa in the sequel.

Thank you for being so enthusiastic, Vanessa.  Alas, Warner Brothers does not have an option on Scorpion.  They wanted to write the sequel themselves and to own the characters.  I couldn’t let them do it.

For Anonymously Ominous:  Olaf One-Brow was created before Limony Snicket’s Count Olaf, so perhaps he stole the idea from me.

For Justin:  Thank you for your letter.  I answered you directly.

For Daisy:  You didn’t say whether you had a publisher or not.  I’m assuming you do.  You can market by asking local bookstores to let you have a signing.  You can offer to read at local schools.  If possible, get interviewed on the radio.  Quite a lot of stations have programs where they introduce new books.  It’s almost impossible for new writers to get on TV or to be mentioned by national radio shows, but small, local radio stations can do a lot for sales.  I have to warn you that most publishing companies do zero as far as publicizing your book, but they do sometimes pay for you to go to booksellers conventions or the American Library Association convention.  Ask your editor or agent.  If your book has an important theme, find organizations or magazines that are interested in that theme and get your publisher to send them a copy.  Also, don’t overlook the local newspapers.  Fewer and fewer newspapers are doing book reviews, but local ones make an exception for local authors.  I have to tell you that it’s very hard to get noticed.  I know someone who spent at least $10,000 making a YouTube video advertising her novel, paying her own way to conventions, giving away free copies, printing T-shirts with her cover (and giving these away) and baking muffins for book signings.  She – there is no better word for this – sucked up to hundreds of possible sellers, bookstore owners, people who review books on blogs – and got nothing for all her efforts.  I know several authors who have spent years trying to market themselves with few results.  The trick is to reserve your strength for whatever you do best.  And don’t spend your own money. 

I did no marketing when I started because I didn’t know how.  What made my success was (1) writing about a brand new topic, Africa, (2) getting an editor who wanted to further my career and (3) getting a Newbery Honor.  If you do something original and make friends with your editor that’s a start.  As for the Newbery, somebody has to win it so why not you?  Your main job is to write BETTER than the competition.  It may take several books before you perfect your ability.  I hope this helps.

For Roonil:  I have met a lot of writers, but I only know a few of them well.  Yes, Brutus did marry Ethne.  She kicked the Lady of the Lake out of his castle and the Lady, in revenge, cast a spell on Brutus.  Whenever he looked into a mirror, he saw a pig’s face.  To others, Brutus was as adorable as ever, but he could no longer enjoy admiring himself.

For Farah:  Alas, I don’t have time to answer questions that are explained in the book.  The family hated Matt because they thought clones were lower than animals.  It’s common for people to think that others who are of another race or religion, are not human.  It makes it easier to be cruel to them.

For Josh:  I wanted Ricardo Montalban for El Patron, but unfortunately he died.  El Patron and Matt have to look like Mexicans.

1/22/2011 12:30:54 pm

It's always interesting to read what is being said both by you and other readers of your novels. I myself look forward to the novel's release; I understand there are those who are very interested to see what is in store, although I also realise that a quality novel takes time to write, and in that sense, it is a worthwhile wait. Incidentally, when you are referring to the letters people send you (within your posts), are these on the blog comments themselves, or email-based letters?

1/23/2011 06:55:59 am

Hi I really enjoy all your books and i would like to know. Has your editor given you the okay to start on a 4th book for the Sea of Trolls trilogy after you are done with the sequel to the House of the Scorpion. I really loved the series and it seems unfinished to me I would really love to read what happens next. So pretty please from the bottom of my heart can you write a 4th book?

Roonil (again)
1/24/2011 06:20:20 am

Alright, I know I should probably drop the subject, but I could not resist replying when I saw what you had written. I was seriously breathless with disbelieving laughter. I love it! Ethne kicked out the Lady of the Lake? Priceless! As for Brutus seeing a pig's face in the mirror, well, let's just say I was dabbing at my eyes.X) Oh, and could you please tell me if you've read about any hippos named George and Martha? I know it sounds trivial, but it's connected to Brutus.:) Thanks! And I hope the move goes well!
Also, I love how Harold proposed to you a week after you'd met; it reminded me of fairy tales. In a good way.:)

Tamara Hilliard
1/31/2011 01:08:26 am

I am a high school English teacher who uses House of the Scorpion with my classes--when I can keep enough copies! I have the delightful problem of teaching a book that my students love so much that they can't resist lending my books to their friends and relatives!

I am about to order more copies to replace the ones I can never seem to get back, and I am looking forward to the sequel, though I appreciate your determination to take the time to do it right rather than just throwing something together in a hurry.

Thank you for such a timely and thought-provoking book!

2/2/2011 02:37:31 pm

mrs farmmer i read house of the scropions and LOVED IT, i was wondering if you can send me a copy of the sequal to holt, michigan 2614 dellridge drive, 48842. I will pay 2$ for it ( extra 77 cents for it to be signed) i am sorry but that is all i can aford right now so plz send me a copy

patricia murphy
2/4/2011 12:20:50 pm

we moved to texas from palo alto in 2000 and havent seen you and harold for years liam has had a successful life [also dyslexic if you remember], has signed up to teach in china - you were one of the highlights of his childhood we still want to see a film of ear eye &arm! let me know who has the rights in case i ever have the opportunity to pass the suggestion on i d love to show you what i ve done if you care to reply all the best

2/4/2011 12:41:26 pm

I would just like to say that i "House of the Scorpion" was a great book, and i can't wait for the second. A friend and i were wondering if you were planning on turning this book into a series or just a seguel

2/4/2011 12:42:57 pm

sorry i meant to say i thought "house of the scorpion" was great

2/5/2011 08:25:15 am

Wow! I can't believe you're working on a sequel! I'm beyond ecstatic! The House of the Scorpion is seriously one of my favorite books ever! Your book, along with the Harry Potter series, is probably the only book I can re-read. Seriously, I'm really happy. And honestly, I don't know how I'm gonna be able to wait. But alas.. I must! Also been reading your blog and I read something about you having eye surgery? Eek! Hope you're alright! Anywaysssss, I'm rambling! Best of luck with the writing process! I look forward to reading your next literary piece! :)

2/6/2011 06:12:45 am

I really love your books. My friend told me to read the House of the Scorpion, so I did. I loved it! Then, for Christmas, my parents got me your other book, the Sea of Trolls. I finished it last month, and it was awesome too!!! I love to write my own stories/books. When I was in 3rd grade I wrote this book based on legos and then sent it in to the lego company, and they really liked it. I've been thinking about writing this really cool book... so do know a publisher that might publish my book since I'm only 12? But maybe I should just write the book for fun. sorry that I wrote so much :)

2/6/2011 10:28:11 am

Mrs. Farmer, I have to say that you are my absolute favorite author. I feel that you are an absolute master at the middle grade genre and cannot wait for the sequel to House of the Scorpion. Walter F. from VA

2/9/2011 08:46:29 pm

Hi Nancy,
this is another Nancy Farmer. I paint paintings, as is abundantly clear from my website, but all the same I still get occasional emails asking about my (that is to say your) books... I can only imagine how many emails and letters you get! Anyway, I also have a letter here, sent all the way from the US, and it was meant for you, not me, from one of your fans. If you email me a postal address I will send it on if you like. It doesn't say much, but all the same it isn't my letter. Sent late October, but there didn't seem to be any activity on your site when I looked, so I didn't send you a message before.
I regret to say I've never read your books, but I probably ought to, if only so I know what everyone's talking about I get emails saying they are great :-)
with best wishes
Nancy Farmer

Jake (again)
2/16/2011 06:42:52 am

Before I asked you what publisher might publish story thing, but I think I ment what editor do you know that might look at my book. But maybe I should just right it for fun.

2/22/2011 05:02:58 am

Hello, I am doing an author study for my school on you. Have a couple questions, hope you can answer soon.

Do you have any special inspirations to help you write?

What part of writing is easiest for you?

Do you have any other intrests other then writeing? (I know you do, just what...)

What is your favorite book you wrote and why?

Did you have any other jobs?

Does where you live affect your work?

What major experiences inpacted your wwriting?

Who is your favorite author and why?

And lastly, a request. I was so sad at the end of the last book. You wish you could have a book go on forever, but sadly, it cannot. Will you ever write another book following Jack, Thorgil, the Bard (Dragon Tongue), Pega, or Lucy? Maybe, for a change, re-write the series from another perspective? Maybe like Thorgil being the main character, or the Bard? All these events are interconnected, like my Young Author books. You follow one character, while other things happen with a different character, a great example would be from Thorgil's perspective with her eventually getting trapped in the moss.

Please respond soon.

Ben (Again)
2/22/2011 05:09:56 am

Please do not make ANY of your books into movies! The best part about books is you can imagine the characters! I imagined like Thorgrim, various elves, Thorgil's mother, various Northmen, the picts, Brother Aiden, Father Serverus, the skald, and various other people the way I think they look. If you made a movie, they are set. I know of your African novels, I just have not read them. I imagine many feel the same way as I do with The Sea of Trolls series as your books.


2/22/2011 09:35:31 am

I cant wait for the sequel i am 11 years old and I loved your book house of the scorpion

Angel G.
2/22/2011 09:58:59 am

Moisés Arias could've played Matt if he was a little younger.

John G.
2/23/2011 09:37:06 am

Is there a title for the sequel to "The House of the Scorpion" yet?

3/3/2011 12:11:38 pm

hi i just noticed that in your vook the land of the silver apples they say waes hael and in another book I read by christopher paolini thay use waise hail wich means be healed in his book they both are very similar

Alexandra W.
3/4/2011 07:25:58 am

You really really really need to write a fourth Sea of Trolls book!!!!!!!! I love them, and felt that there needed to more to the series when I finished the third. The end was just calling for another book:) I think a sequel to House of the Scorpion would be awesome!!!! I can't wait to read it!!!!!

Jane A.
3/5/2011 08:33:38 am

I saw from a previous comment that you said that ETHNE KICKED THE LADY OUT OF THE CASTLE AND BRUTUS GOT BEWITCHED! INTO THINKING HE WAS A PIG! Bless his heart. I <3 Brutus. Aww, it's a heart, I know. I understand you're terribly busy writing the Scorpion sequel (I just told someone I'd read the Lord of the Rings books if they read the House of the Scorpion and the Trolls books today), but I was wondering if maybe -- when you're finished with the Scorpion sequel and have a bit of time to kill -- you don't suppose you could maybe...elaborate? You know, a little chapter type-thing about Ethne striding through the castle, grabbing the Lady by her ear, and shoving her unceremoniously through the door, with a knee to the back. Just a thought, I don't mean to sounds pushy. I would simply adore reading about it, though.

ben s.
3/9/2011 09:35:38 am

can you give an estimate on when the sequal to house of the scorpion will come out, and any other info you can give.

3/12/2011 06:10:17 am

hey!!!! i love your book house of the scorpion, i commented on ur other page..but that was from a long time ago i realized. so i decided id comment on here to lol:) anyways i cant wait for the sequel to come out! its goin to be wonderful. what is the name of the sequel?

3/27/2011 10:30:27 pm

Dear Nancy,
I LOVED House of the Scorpion, it's quite frankly, one of the best books I have ever read. You mentioned that you write from start to finish without any revisions, but your books seem so carefully plotted and paced. Does that mean you do major major revising after writing the novel without a plan, or are you, as I suspected, a genius who can write perfectly paced and plotted and planned books without having an actual concrete plan?

Also, I know you get asked this a lot, but do you think the scorpion sequel will come out this year?

Thankyou for writing. I can't express how much I love your work

- Jana

4/2/2011 11:36:41 pm

It's soo awesome you're planning to write a sequel to House of the Scorpion, I can't wait! it's one of my favorite books, I've read it like 5 or 6 times :) I'd love to see it become a movie one day. Anyway, hope the move is going smoothly!

Jake (again)
4/9/2011 07:38:07 am

I'm so sorry I didn't mean to send you that message above this one, I don't know what happened! So sorry!
Well, for school I'm making a newspaper and I'm sopossed to interveiw someone. My topic is about Mexico being on the brink of civil war, so I thought it would be cool to see what you have to say.
First, I should probably say who I am. My name is Jake S.
My first question is, what's your thoughts about Mexico being on the brink of civil war? My second one is if you were in Mexico right now, without a job, would you cross the border to the US, or no? And please say why you choose your answer.
Lastly, I'd like to ask you if it's okay if I put your name in my paper. Please answer soon. Thank you so much!!!!

4/28/2011 10:59:46 am

I loved the sea of trolls trilogy, are you ever gonna make another book or is that all? I get what Ben means that a book can't go on forever, and that making a movie won't be good.I was just curious, I don't like many books and my friends say I recomend sea of trolls to often.

4/29/2011 05:28:20 am

this is more of a question...will clones be respected in the sequeal

4/29/2011 05:28:57 am

i ment to say in the "house of the scpion" my bad

5/27/2011 08:04:28 am

the house of the scorpion like

Ms. McKoy's 5th Grade Class
6/1/2011 01:06:03 am

Hi, Mrs. Farmer,

We are Ms. McKoy's 5th grade Advanced Work Class in Boston. We read your book "Sea of Trolls" in ELA class. We loved it! We thought it was wonderful. :) However, we do have some questions we would like to ask you..... Here we go.....

1. When you were a child, did you read books like this? Were you a fan of ELA classes? (Benn)

2. How did you pick the names for the characters (my name is Lucy. Yay!)

3. Did you have to study old English to learn the Saxon names and language? (William B)

4. What inspired you to write this book? (Janelle)

5. Where did you get the idea of Bards and Beserkers? (Mariah)

6. Why did some of the characters have weird nicknames? (Vicki)

7. Where did you get the Northman language from? How did you learn it? (Kisah)

8. Were you a fan of "Lord of the Rings"? (Damon)

9. What was your inspiration for the characters? Does anyone you know reflect the personality of these characters? (Jenny)

10. Who is your favorite character? (Hanna)

11. Who is your least favorite character? (Ms. McKoy)

12. Do you have any friends who helped give you ideas for the story? (Joseph/Kit Kat)

13. Are any of the settings based on real life places? (Maeve)

14, Do you understand the Northmen language (Matthew)?

15. When you were a child, did you always want to be a writer and create fiction novels/books? (Sabrina)

16. What was your favorite part of "Sea of Trolls"? My favorite part was when they leave Jotunheim..... I think. There were a lot of good parts. (William H.)

17. What characters would you say are heroes or heroines? I am asking this because our teacher is having us write an essay on this topic. (Kelly)

18. When did you become interested in Norse mythology? (Jiovan)

19. Why do you like to write fantasies? (Mariah)

20. Are you from Northern Europe? Do you know people who are from that part of the world? (Damon)

21. Have you written anything else besides fictional novels? (Janelle)

22. Why did you make the character of Jack so special? (William H)

23. How long did it take you to write this novel? (Jenny)

24. Why did you decide to have the Bard turn into a bird to help Jack? (Lizbeth)

These are all of our questions. We look forward to hearing from you. Sorry if it is too many questions. Thank you for answering them as much as you can, if you can :-)

6/16/2011 06:32:40 pm

I read The house of the scorpion when I was in high school. I loved the book great book. Just wondering when the sequel will be out? Or if there going to make a movie. When I read the book I pictured Giancarlo Giannini as El patron. And Tam Lin like Gerard Butler type. Giannini is Italian but comes out in a lot of Mexican movie parts and speaks Spanish as well. Gerard Butler is Scottish as well.

7/3/2011 04:46:15 am

Dear Nancy,

I'm a strong member in theater - especially playwriting, management, directing and producing. The question that I have is that I was wondering if I could receive your permission to adapt HOUSE OF THE SCORPION into a stage play. This permission would only entail me writing it and not yet fully producing.

Once it IS written however, I would much like to send it to you and possibly even get a few readings and a production in (but all that will come later).

Hope you can grant me this request and can't want to hear from you. Feel free to email me your response. Thank you.

Mike H.
9/5/2011 04:19:34 am

This past minute was awesome.
It went something like this:
*I read your last response, to Josh, mentioning "Ricardo Montalban for El Patron".
*I google image search: "Ricardo Montalban"
*He is exactly how I envisioned El Patron.


10/2/2011 01:41:52 pm

I teach 8 th graders in beautiful Northern california. We are currently reading House of the Scorpion in our English core---as a latina, it gives me great satisfaction to be able to use a novel that my latino students can relate to, and that all students LOVE! I appreciate the way you use Spanish to create the complete cultural experience. Many students are so wrapped up in the plot that they beg me to allow them to read in class---that makes me want to turn cartwheels with joy! They are clamoring for a sequel and many hope there will be a movie in the future----myself, I prefer to keep the characters my own imagination has created--I know many will recall this novel and the creative activities we are involved in for a long time--it's a great read for young people and lovers of science fiction. Thanks again for your contribution to creating excited READERS out of reluctant readers. Gracias, Lillian Fonseca ( Eng/Hist Teacher)

Mai Xee
12/15/2011 10:57:34 am

I really think that Nancy Farmer should write a new book. She should write one about The Sea of Troll Trilogy and make a fourth book. She should write about what happens at the school of bards. If she ever does write a fourth book, I can help her with that. I wonder if she ever checks her website?

9/26/2012 02:58:16 am

Hi nancy, my names gavin and im a sophomore in highschool in austin,TX. I first rea the house of the scorpion a long time ago, i cant really remember when...what i do remember is the feeling it gave me. Of complete and UTTER sadness. Iv only ever felt that from a book 1 time, and it was when i finishes the deathly hallows. Its like i immersed myself in this book repeatedly (ive read it multiple times) and i just cant stand it not being real. I hope a movie is made of it one day...i cant exactly express my feelings as i sit here, skipping P.E to tell you this. And who knows, you may not even read it. But you BETTER.id really prefer typing a letter or writing to you but i dont know your adress nor your email. The point is, id like to establish contact with you, and tell you my feelings. This book, with its 380 pages, has had a huge effect on my life, if you could believe that...please email me, id really like to communicate with you. Thanks.

2/27/2013 12:01:32 pm

Hi. I'm a teenager and my passion is writing. My parents are supportive of me whatever I do, but I can tell it's notin their best interests for me to become a fictional writer. But it's what I love, and it's what I'm best at. Were you always certain that you were going to become a writer?

10/1/2013 02:43:16 pm

Thanks for the post to this page

4/18/2014 10:30:41 am

I want to say that you're book is amazing! right now, my 8th grade class is reading. they are only on chapter 25, but I loved it so much that I read on and I finished like two weeks ago. I can't wait to read the sequel! Your book is just so detailed oriented that you literally get sucked into it! Your book is like the first book that I have read and loved so much. it was shocking at some points but that's good because it made me read and read and read to find out more!! Thank you for writing this book! if you ever come to middle Georgia you would have come see my class! all of us have enjoyed it greatly!


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