Prairie Village author sees her characters come alive on the big screen after 18 books; movie shown at KC Film Festival

Nancy Pickard in her Prairie Village apartment.
Nancy Pickard in her Prairie Village apartment.

A woman buys a book to read on a road trip. It is by an author who lives in her area. She likes the book – she can’t put it down – and tells her husband about it.

Her husband happens to be a screenwriter named Casey Twenter. Fast-forward and now that book, “The Scent of Rain and Lightning,” is a movie. The author is Nancy Pickard of Prairie Village.

But before the movie, which will be shown at the Kansas City Film Festival next month, and before the book, came 17 other books and dozens of short stories.

Pickard is well-known to her literary followers as mystery writer with a long list of awards and a conference room named after her at the Johnson County Central Library where she used to do a lot of her writing. Now, Corinth Library is a frequent spot for her work – or a local coffee shop.

Her 18 novels include the Jenny Cain and Marie Lightfoot series. Her last two books take a different direction: they are not part of a series and are set in Kansas.

Packard grew up in Kansas City, did stints in journalism and advertising copy writing, including working for Western Auto and freelancing for other well known companies before she turned to writing novels more than 30 years ago.

“I just wanted to write mystery novels and I wanted them to be published,” she said. “I didn’t have much ambition beyond that.”

Her first attempt was rejected. She doesn’t even keep the manuscript anymore. But the second sold and was published the day her son was born. She has had an agent from the beginning and has worked with major book publishers.

After all of the books she has published and her literary success (she has had a relationship with the Ellery Queen Magazine), Pickard says she has no desire to write from anywhere else. “I just want to be in Prairie Village in my apartment, working here or at Corinth.”

She signed a contract for the movies rights after she saw the final script. ”I picked out a few things that I thought needed attention and then kept my mouth shut,” she said

She has seen the movie, for which she also gets a producer credit, and likes what she saw when her characters came to life on the big screen,

The film will be shown April 9 at the film festival. Tickets are now on sale.

Read more about Nancy Pickard and her books here and her interview in Parade Magazine here.