N.J., Age 6
N.J. Lindquist dreamed of having a life like Jo Marsh in Little Women--and it came true! I relate to N.J. a lot, since I had similar aspirations and I, too, grew up to have four boys and to write. N. J., an award-winning author and speaker, grew up reading Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew, switched to the works of Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardiner, Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Sayers, and P. D. James.
Shaded Light is her first mystery, but she also has written eight books for teens, a play, and a number of stories and articles for both adults and teens. A popular speaker, N. J. is also an experienced writing teacher with expertise in a number of areas. Formerly from the Canadian prairies, N. J., her husband Les, and their four sons have lived in Markham, Ontario since 1986. Check out her most recent novel, Glitter of Diamonds.
Let's see what shaped the author, wife, teacher and mom to four boys that she became:
I had two. The practical one: to be a teacher. The dream: to be like Jo Marsh in Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys (write books, be surrounded by boys, and have a loft where I could be alone to write and eat apples). I don’t know if I ever told anyone about the latter ambition. It was my secret dream. And I still have to pinch myself before I can believe I’ve actually achieved all of it! I taught high school and homeschooled my four sons; I’m the author of 10 books and numerous columns and articles; our house has a third story loft where I’m typing this; I eat an apple almost every day.
Fondest Memory (then):
Probably the Christmas when there was only one thing I wanted; a doll I had seen at a wholesale in Winnipeg. Her name was Sweet Sue and she had a beautiful pink and black dress and a ballet outfit, and I think I wanted her more than anything I’d ever wanted. My parents told me she cost a lot of money and we couldn’t afford her. But I steadfastly believed that my dad would get her for me. I had a lot of confidence in my dad. That Christmas morning, at about five AM, I woke up and headed down the stairs. My parents heard me and called out, “Where are you going?” and I said, “Down to get my doll!” Sure enough, she was there. I don’t know what I’d have done if she hadn’t been. Probably been warped for life!
N.J. at Christmas, Age 11 with Doll and Dog
Proudest Moment (now or then):
Now: Most of my proud moments are focused on my four amazing sons!
Then: When I was in grade seven, our health teacher assigned an essay for health class in which we were to explain why we should eat vegetables. Instead of writing an essay, in one of the few moments I let go and did it “my” way, I wrote a story called “Alice in Vegetableland.” Alice, a young girl who didn’t want to eat her vegetables, fell asleep and went to a magic land where the vegetables all spoke to her and told her why she should eat them. Fortunately, my teacher loved it and asked me to read it on parent’s day. The sad thing is that that was one of the last times I really showed my creativity until I was in university. My other teachers, for the most part, weren’t open to my creativity and I basically kept it hidden for a long, long time.
Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:
For most of my life, I felt different from other people, and not in a good way. I never really felt like a kid. I always felt responsible for people – even for my parents. I wondered if maybe it was because I was adopted, but that didn’t really make sense because being adopted never really bothered me. I always believed that God put me where he wanted me. And my parents loved me and were good parents.
It wasn’t until much later that things came into focus for me. I realized that being an adopted child was a problem, but only because my parents didn’t have a plumb line for understanding me. With my own sons, and even my grandchildren, I can look at them and say, “You’re just like your dad…” or your aunt..” But my parents had no way of knowing who I was like.
But the bigger problem was that, although I remember doing IQ tests every few years in school, no one ever told my parents or me that I was gifted. It wasn’t until an experimental psychology class in second year university that I finally saw the results of a bunch of tests we did, and discovered I was gifted, highly artistic, and very creative. I rushed to the library and found every book they had on being gifted (maybe three books) and devoured them. I especially remember the book, Growing Up Gifted. It was as if a lightbulb went on! So that’s what it was!
At age 19, for the first time in my life, I realized there was nothing wrong with me. In fact, it was a good thing! I’m still an introvert and I still think differently from other people, but I no longer feel I have to fit in.
My First Job:
That’s easy. My dad owned a clothing store in a small town (2,000 people). I was helping in the store when I was 10, helping pick clothes from the wholesales and decorating the windows when I was 12 or 13. I enjoyed most of it. The one thing I didn’t like was having to help older women try on clothes and tell them they looked nice.
There was a corner store half way between my house and the school. Nearly every day, my girlfriend and I would stop on the way back to school at noon, and I’d usually buy 5 red licorice (at 2 cents each.) Not so good for the teeth, I now know, but that was probably my worst habit.
Favorite Outfit as a Child:
Oh dear. I loved clothes from when I was quite young. Loved colors and putting them together. I used to create clothes for my paper dolls and eventually made clothes for my dolls when I was about 13. And of course when we went to the wholesales to choose clothes for the store, I got to choose what I wanted for myself, too. But, to be perfectly honest, my favorite outfit, and the one that immediately pops into my mind, was probably my six guns and cowboy hat, worn over a pair corduroy pants. I wore them for years while pretending I was Bob Steele or Roy Rogers chasing the bad guys. We had a railing around our porch that made a terrific horse. And no, it didn’t make me want to actually shoot anyone!
N.J. in Fringe Jacket, Age 7
Favorite Childhood Movie:
I don’t know about movies, but every day at 5 they showed B westerns on the one TV channel we had. And while Roy and Gene and the other were good, my favourite was always Bob Steele!
Favorite Childhood Book:
The Golden Book of Poetry. There’s a story to go with this, but it’s too long to tell here. Basically, I was given the book when I was 6 years old by an elderly gentleman (“Uncle Frank”) who had to be sent by God. I spent hours and hours reading and rereading the poems, and memorized many of them.
N.J. and Uncle Frank
Bob Steele, Ro Rogers, Mickey Mantle, Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe, in that order.
Anything else you'd like to share with readers about your childhood?:
I guess the one thing I haven’t talked about is the fact that I knew God from when I was very young. My grandmother on my dad’s side was a devout Christian, as were several of my aunts and their husbands, and they told me about God in various ways. I must have simply believed. My parents went to church for years, but they didn’t understand that you could have a personal relationship with God until quite late in life. And yet I had a relationship with him from when I was three or four years old. I believe he gave me the gift of faith, along with a lot of perseverance (some might say stubbornness.)
Shaded Light (Book 1 in the Manziuk and Ryan Mystery series
& Glitter of Diamonds, Book 2 in the Manziuk and Ryan Mystery series.
After a local sports radio talk-show host calls for a volunteer to knock some sense into the baseball team's temperamental pitcher, Manziuk and Ryan must catch a murderer swinging a lethal bat.
“You can hear the fans screaming as N. J. Lindquist hits another grand slam over the wall. A masterfully written whodunit that will keep even diehard mystery aficionados guessing to the very end.” Keith Clemons, award-winning author of These Little Ones
Hard cover, 5.5" x 8.5", 384 pp
$24.95 US / $29.95 Cdn
Review of Glitter of Diamonds:
"Sports fans and readers who like police procedurals will want to read GLITTER OF DIAMONDS where famous baseball players are shown to be ordinary people with the same stress and problems as anyone else. The investigation is fascinating to watch as the police follow the clues and eliminate suspects one by one. N.J. Lindquist is a fine writer who tells an exciting baseball whodunit."
Teen coming of age novels:
Circle of Friends series and In Time of Trouble
The New You and The Bridge 1 and 2 (teen discipleship materials)