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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Roscoe writer ‘does' the birds & the bees in print and e-book

By Kathy Daley - reporter / photographer

By: Kathy Daley | Democrat
Roscoe's prolific author Nancy Hajeski also operates Gadabout, a thrift and boutique shop located behind the town supermarket.
ROSCOE — A decade ago, Nancy Hajeski decided to move from populous Bergen County, NJ - and she wanted country.
“Trout fishing capital. River view. Walk to town,” read the advertisement that grabbed her attention.
She reported to Roscoe. It was April.
The landscape was grayish brown. She arrived on the heels of a flash flood, so the trout fishing capital was digging itself out of the mud. Yet the town itself and the mobile home park she decided on, right across from the Willowemoc River, suited her.
“I was here one week,' Hajeski said, “and everyone in town knew my name.”
Roscoe is a far cry from the publishing world in which she operates. But Hajeski, the author, can do her work anywhere, and these days she writes from her tidy trailer as her dog and two cats lounge about.
Energetic and in-demand, she's a New York Times bestselling author for her graphic novel adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
For National Geographic, she's written hard cover and field guide-type books on nature and wellness. “Birds, Bees and Butterflies,” and “Complete Guide to Herbs and Spices,” are two of them, and she's now tackling “National Geographic Nature's Best Remedies,” a 320-page volume.
She's an avid gardener and bird watcher who gives talks to the Liberty and Roscoe-Rockland Garden Clubs on earthy topics like what to plant so that birds can't resist your yard.
For various publishers she's penned “The Big Book of Presidents: from George Washington to Barack Obama;” “Ali: the Official Portrait of “the Greatest” of all Time;” and “The Beatles: Here, There, and Everywhere.”
When she first arrived in town, she began a column in the local Towne Crier newspaper. Titled “Court and Spark,” Hajeski wrote about how wedded couples met each other and how love flourished. Appropriate, because she's been knee-deep in historical romance writing for years.
“I always loved Robert Louis Stevenson, Dumas, anything swashbuckling,” said Hajeski, who writes fiction under the name Nancy Butler. “I read the 'Three Musketeers' in sixth grade, and was fascinated with anything involving pirates, highwaymen, lords and ladies.”
Her first romantic novel in e-book form is “Keeper of the Swans,” released this month by Belgrave House. The book follows the exploits of Diana Exeley, who flees an arranged marriage, hides in a rowboat that is carried off by the Thames River and meets up with a mysterious but handsome river warden who cares for animals.
A number of publishers had approached her about making electronic versions of her print books.
“Books go out of print, but e-books give your book immortality,” she said. “I became a convert.”
Hajeski's 12 print-format novels, originally published by Signet, are all Regency romances set in the world of Jane Austen's 19th-century England. From about 1811 until 1820, the Regency era was so-named when King George III fell ill and was declared incapable of ruling. The Regency Act allowed his son, George Prince Regent, to rule.
It was a time of bonnets and ball gowns, tea in the drawing room and intrigue with the baron in the library.
“Regency writers are nuts for accuracy. We do a lot of research, a lot from primary sources,” she said. “We read biographies of Napoleon, of the Duke of Wellington. ... It's a time period I find attractive.” Education was undergoing great change during the Regency era, even for girls. And Hajeski's female leads tend to be less innocent misses and more characters with spine: a reporter for her father's newspaper, an older woman falling for a younger man.
Aware that bookstores and bibliophiles tend to get snooty about the value of romance novels, Hajeski points out that “romance is a big chunk of the publishing pie.”
These days, she does her writing in the morning, takes afternoons and dinner time off, and then works evenings till after midnight. On weekends, she can be found at her funky and fascinating thrift shop, Gadabout, behind the Roscoe supermarket.
“I came to Roscoe because I thought it would be a good place to write, and it turned out just right,” Hajeski reflected. “I love the hometown character, the scenic waterways, the wildlife. I tell people that when I lived in Teaneck, NJ, very few things took my breath away. In Roscoe, it happens every morning when I walk outside on my deck.”

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