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Sister authors: 100 books and counting

by: Vern Uyetake, Nancy Bush, left, her pug “The Binkster” and her sister Lisa Jackson sit in front of their most recent books at Bush’s Lake Oswego home.

Twenty-five years ago, Lake Oswego author Nancy Bush read an article that would drastically impact both her and her sister's lives. The piece appeared in a 1981 issue of Time magazine and documented the growing number of young mothers who had started to write romance novels to make additional money.

Although neither Bush, nor her sister Lisa Jackson, now of Vancouver, Wash., had ever read much in the romance genre, they were intrigued by the potential.

Jackson, who had homes in both Lake Oswego and West Linn, got the ball rolling, writing seven pages on a typewriter and sending them to her sister. The two then combined to finish their first novel. The only problem now was finding someone to publish it.

'We were pretty much rejected all over New York,' Jackson said. 'But they were very positive rejections. They wanted us to take out a lot of the suspense.'

Despite the initial disappointment of being turned down, the experience actually gave the sisters the confidence to keep trying.

Bush and Jackson then started working in different genres. Bush took on young adult novels while Jackson stayed with adult romance books.

In 1982, Bush's first book was published by Silhouette titled 'Dare to Love.' Less than a year later, Jackson published 'Twist of Fate' for Silhouette Special Edition.

Realizing that writing could possibly become a career, the sisters started to read popular authors in their respective genres since neither one of them was particuarly well-versed in romance novels.

'You learn as you go. We didn't understand the market initially but we found authors we liked, ones that showed depth in characters and had intricate plots. We didn't like ones that were too heavy on narrative and just had a lot of people staring into each others' eyes,' Bush said.

But just because the sisters each had a book under their belts, that didn't guarantee them that another one would be published immediately.

'It was a struggle. In a way, it was almost harder to sell the second book,' Bush said.

Jackson and Bush kept at it, however, and didn't have to wait too long before getting published again.

Jackson wrote dozens of other titles published by Harlequin while Bush eventually stumbled across another unique opportunity.

In 1984, she read another magazine article about how the 'Nancy Drew' series was going to be taken in a different direction. The idea of writing for the well-known books was appealing and she sent off some clippings that showcased some of her mystery writing.

Soon after, the publishing company informed her that they would be interested in using her and sent a one paragraph description of what the novel should be about. Fortunately for her, she was familiar with the business that 'Nancy Drew' was supposed to be investigating in her most recent adventure.

'They wanted it to be about her investigating the airline industry. I had worked for a travel agency for a while, otherwise I might have been in trouble. I got lucky,' Bush said.

Bush wrote four 'Nancy Drew' mysteries and a number of serial books for 'All My Children' and 'General Hospital.'

Now, more than two decades later, the sisters have combined to write more than 100 novels and are continually bouncing ideas off each other.

'We edit for each other and although we don't really collaborate, we definitely run things by one another,' Jackson said.

But in recent years, Bush and Jackson have been able to start writing the types of books that they have always been interested in.

Both sisters have been writing suspense novels and have experienced a great deal of success in the process. Jackson's novel 'Fatal Burn' was New York Times No. 1 bestseller and 'Twice Kissed,' her first hardback, debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times list and will be coming out soon in paperback.

Her most recent novel, 'Shiver' came out in April of this year.

'We're really happy with this genre. This is what we've been heading towards,' Jackson said.

Meanwhile, Bush has stumbled upon a series of books that have become extremely popular nationwide. Her first book of the 'Jane Kelly' mystery series, 'Candy Apple Red,' earned terrific reviews and the second book, 'Electric Blue,' is due out in October.

The series takes place in the fictional town of Lake Chinook although the town bears a striking resemblance to Lake Oswego and features such Lake Oswego staples as the Coffee Nook, Blinn's Boathouse and the Gemini (all under assumed names.)

Perhaps the most recognizable feature from the books has been Bush's canine character, a precocious pug named The Binkster. Bush wrote the dog into 'Candy Apple Red' and liked it so much she decided to buy an actual pug and give it the same name.

'My husband told me that just because you write a good dog doesn't mean that the one you get is going to be good,' Bush said.

Now The Binkster is so popular she has her own fan club and has even been recognized on the streets in Lake Oswego.

Bush has enjoyed writing a series and is currently at work on her third 'Jane Kelly' book but she admits that it comes with some unexpected headaches.

'With a series, it can get really difficult to keep track of all the things that have happened before. It got so crazy that my daughter actually made a family tree for me so I could keep track of characters,' Bush said.

Both sisters are currently working on books and have no plans of slowing down in the near future.

'I think we're trying to fit about 50 years of living into our next 20,' Jackson said.

For more information on the authors, visit or www.lisajackson.com.