Working the Dream

on July 5, 2013
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Dreams. We all have them, but some are shallower than others. Hey, I’ve been trying to lose weight since high school. I always imagined what it would feel like to have the perfect figure. I’m still imagining. Someone will carve on my gravestone: She Never Lost Those Ten Pounds. Some dreams, though, are deeper and… Read More

Nina Bangs

Nina Bangs

My one regret in life? I wish I'd started writing sooner.

Talk about misspent youth. What did I do during those lazy summer days of childhood when I could've been honing my writing skills? Nothing. Okay, so I spent a lot of time dreaming I was a cowgirl with a trusty black stallion. Oh, and I read every Walter Farley horse novel. I was an only child so I relied on my imagination to supply the excitement in my life.

By high school, I'd decided to trade in my lariat for a trench coat. I was into dark and dangerous. As an intrepid foreign correspondent, I'd stalk the mean streets of the world. Did I actually write anything? No, but I did read all of Agatha Christie's mysteries.

I worked at a department store during college. My short stint in the accounting department taught me a lot about math. Three hundred-dollar shortages plus hysterical tears equaled instant move to gift-wrap. A career in math was not in my future. I didn't care because I'd discovered "real" literature. I plowed through James Joyce's Ulysses and Tolstoy's War and Peace. If it didn't make my eyes cross then it wasn't worth reading. Yes, I admit it, I was a literary snob.

But there's just so much "real" literature one person can take. I graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in English Literature and a determination to avoid books that induced eye crossing or had tragic endings. The only things I managed to write during those years were research papers.

I taught second grade for several years then spent two years in Dublin, Ireland. A friend and I supported ourselves by singing folk songs in Irish pubs. We weren't great, but we were young, enthusiastic, and wore short skirts. It was obviously my destiny to be the next Judy Collins. I spent a lot of time pouring through music books.

Returning to New Jersey and reality, I taught elementary school until I grew restless again. My cross-country odyssey included stays in Arizona, California, and Texas. Along the way, I indulged my love of horses. No black stallions, but I did have several beautiful Arabian mares. I read tons of books on breeding and showing.

Somewhere between California and Texas I grew addicted to romance novels and cats. The cat's independent attitude was exactly the quality I admired in my romance heroes. And once I decided to try writing my own romances, I made sure a cat crept into each story.

Texas is my permanent home. I've come full circle. Born in San Antonio, I spent most of my life in New Jersey. Maybe the Texas in my blood accounts for my attachment to strong men, fast horses, and wide-open spaces.

My love of cats? Haven't a clue.

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