Lynda Pfleuger

Lynda - Age 7_smallThe hospital where I was born in Edmond, Oklahoma, was upstairs above the town movie theater. I used to tease my Dad that he was downstairs watching a movie when I was born.  He assured me, he was pacing the hospital floor just like any expectant father was supposed to do.

Times were bad in Oklahoma and my parents had a tough time finding work. When I was fourteen months old, we moved to San Diego, California, where my mother’s parents lived.  Within a few days, both my parents found jobs.  My father worked at the shipyard as a welder and my mother as a part time bookkeeper.  My grandmother took care of me while my parents worked.

Learning to read was hard for me. Due to an illness, I missed most of the second grade and had catching up do.  In the seventh grade my English teacher took a special interest in me.  With his encouragement, I began to read more books.  I particularly liked to read about animals and famous people.   During my freshman year at San Diego State College, my English 101 instructor helped me develop my writing style.  Afterward I started writing short stories, poems and articles and dreamed of writing a novel someday.

Lynda PfleugerI joined the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in 1984 and was the regional advisor for the San Diego Chapter from 1992-1997. I wrote several short stories and two mystery novels for children but publishing eluded me.  Finally a friend suggested I try nonfiction.  Within a few months, I published two articles.

Santa Claus cartoonWhile researching an article on collecting at my local library, a book fell from the shelf above and hit me on the head. After rubbing my head for a few seconds, I reached down and picked up.  It was about a man who collected political cartoons.  His favorite cartoonist was Thomas Nast.  I was intrigued by Nast’s story.  With just his pen as a weapon, he helped bring down a notoriously corrupt group of politicians called the Tweed Ring in New York City after the Civil War.  I also fell in love with Nast’s drawings of Santa Claus.

I started collecting all the books and magazine articles I could find about Thomas Nast. I traveled to Morristown, New Jersey, where he lived with his family.  I spent days at the Morristown and Morris Township Library going through Nast’s scrapbooks, drawings, and other memorabilia.  Afterward, I walked across the street to the Macculloch Hall Historical Museum and saw several of Nast’s paintings. I also discovered the Thomas Nast Society and purchased several copies of their journal.  Finally, I was ready to sit down and write.

That’s how my journey as a biographer began.