Hi, ho! Please help me welcome back to the blog the one and only Caroline Carlson. (Click here for Caroline’s last visit.) Today is the birthday of her latest middle grade novel, The World’s Greatest Detective! It was published by HarperCollins with a cover illustrated by Júlia Sardà. You can read an excerpt of the book at Entertainment Weekly’s website. Click here to do so.
Caroline is represented by Sarah Davies. Now, grab your deerstalker and magnifying glass, and let’s talk to Caroline!
El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Caroline: I believe there is an inherently delicious way to cook any vegetable, but sometimes that way is hard to find.
I can tap dance. I’m pretty good.
I am that obnoxious sort of person who likes to get to airports several days in advance of my flight.
I’ve been visiting schools and bookstores talking to kids for five years now, but I still get nervous every time!
El Space: You’re known for your pirate series—The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates. So, what inspired your new middle grade mystery novel, The World’s Greatest Detective? Is this a series also?
Caroline: I’ve always loved reading mystery novels and have wanted to try my hand at one for a while now. All three books in the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series have elements of mystery in them, actually, but The World’s Greatest Detective is the first book I’ve written that’s styled after classic whodunits. Readers who are familiar with Sherlock Holmes or with Agatha Christie’s novels will probably recognize a lot of the story’s elements, and that’s intentional—one of my goals was to honor my favorite mystery icons and introduce kids to the genre in a fun and humorous way.
The World’s Greatest Detective isn’t part of a series, at least for now. I’d love to send Toby and Ivy on a new adventure someday, but I don’t want to write another mystery novel unless I have a really good idea for the mystery at the heart of the story, and that hasn’t happened just yet. It’s also been lots of fun, after working on a trilogy, to write a book that can stand on its own metaphorical feet.
El Space: Batman considers himself to be the world’s greatest detective. But he’s got money and gadgets to help him out. Without giving any spoilers, what do Toby and Ivy have to help them solve mysteries?
Caroline: I don’t know if Toby and Ivy would be any good at saving Gotham, but they do the best they can with their limited resources. Toby has learned a little bit about detective work from his uncle Gabriel, who has an office on the famous Detectives’ Row, and he also happens to be enrolled in a correspondence course to become a junior detective. Ivy’s got a huge library of true crime stories, a clothes rack full of disguises, a skeleton named Egbert, and a knack for setting traps with tablecloths and trip wires. Ultimately, though, they’ve got to put away their gadgets and rely on their powers of deduction to solve the murder that happens right under their noses.
El Space: Sounds exciting! Steve Moser, who was a former police detective in real life, gave some tips from this article at the Police Magazine website. Here is one of them:
Take time to step away and regroup. Sometimes you have to step back and either do something else or just take a break. Many ah-ha moments occur this way.
Would your characters agree? Why or why not? Why is this also good writing advice?
Caroline: Toby and Ivy would hate to step away from a good case, but I think they’d grudgingly agree that some of their most crucial insights have come at the moments when they’ve been forced to remove themselves from an investigation. And I certainly agree that breaks are essential to my own writing process. By the time I’ve finished a first draft of a book, I’ve been working on it nonstop for months, and I usually don’t have much of a sense of what’s working and what’s not. It’s hard for me to view the manuscript objectively—as an editor or a reader would—until I’ve taken some time away from it. Sometimes a writing problem that seems intractable can be solved with a little bit of time and distance.
El Space: Did you have a favorite mystery book or series when you were a kid? If so, what? Why?
Caroline: Yes, lots! I particularly loved mysteries that encourage readers to solve a puzzle along with the characters. My favorite example of this type of book is Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game. There are a few subtle Westing Game references in The World’s Greatest Detective; let me know if you find them!
El Space: What will you work on next?
Caroline: I’m just finishing up a draft of my next book, which is a fantasy adventure tentatively called “The Door at the End of the World.” It has a little bit of magic, lots of jokes, and too many bees.
Thanks, Caroline, for being my guest!
And thank you to all who stopped by to chat with Caroline. Looking for Caroline? You can find her at her website, Twitter, Facebook.
The World’s Greatest Detective and other novels by Caroline can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound. But I will send a copy of The World’s Greatest Detective to one of you who comments below. Winner to be announced on May 29. (Another giveaway also will be announced then.)
Author photo by Amy Rose Capetta. The World’s Greatest Detective cover courtesy of the author. Other covers from Goodreads. LEGO Batman from fanpop.com. Detective images from cctvcamerapros.com and clipartpanda.com. Veggies from clipartlord.com. Bee image from Pinterest.
Great interview. I think many ‘ah-ha’ moments occur that way in writing, too.
They do, Andy. I usually discover new things about characters and plot when I step away from writing for a bit.
After the trilogy ” the honorable league of Pirates ” I would be surprised if Caroline does not give a dfollowing to world’s greatest detective(s) .
Again a young talent that you underline , Linda .
I’m always happy to do that, Michel.
I was sorry to hear about the robbery at your house. I’m glad Janine and you are safe.
Fun interview and the characters sound like a lot of fun. Very nice cover too.
Lots of good books have debuted recently, as you know. 🙂
It’s a big release season it seems.
I guess it’s part of the May sweeps. Got to get those books out for beach season. 🙂
True. Summer is a rough release period, so May might be smarter.
Makes sense. By the way, I like the dedication for Ritual of the Lost Lamb. Books definitely leave a mark on the soul. 🙂 I have yours on my phone. 🙂
Thanks. Although I’ve had the same dedication for all the books. Figured it made sense.
For some reason, I only noticed it on this book. I must have flipped past it on the others.
Most people skip the dedication. I rarely look at them these days.
I do sometimes out of curiosity.
Great interview, ladies. Thanks for introducing us to Caroline, L. Marie. I’ve always wanted to learn to tap dance. Congratulations on your book, Caroline!
Thanks, Jill. I’ve wanted to learn to tap dance also. 🙂 I love watching tap dancers perform.
Shirley Temple was my favorite! 🙂
Although I’ve seen some scenes with Shirley Temple, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an entire movie with her in the lead.
What a delightful interview; a chatty and charming introduction to The World’s Greatest Detective!, and other books as well. Best wishes to Caroline and thanks to L. Marie. 🙂
Thanks, Penny. 🙂 I’m glad to promote books for kids, especially with summer coming. Plenty of time for reading!
Sounds like a lot of fun and I love the cover! Good luck to Caroline for success with the book. 😀
I love it too. Caroline’s books always have humor, so it’s sure to be a lot of fun to read. 🙂
“…and that’s intentional—one of my goals was to honor my favorite mystery icons and introduce kids to the genre in a fun and humorous way.”
I like that attitude…how will they know if we don’t show them?
Exactly, Laura! Humor is a huge help! Would love to see kids get excited about mystery books.
Thank you for the interview and congratulations on the new book, Caroline! I also like to get to the airport way early, and it’s a lot more fun now that airports are the new shopping mall.
I also like to get to the airport early. 🙂 That way I can sit and read and relax.
Enjoyed the interview and love mysteries ~ everything from Nancy Drew to Poirot to Sherlock Holmes to Miss Marple to Perry Mason!
Best of luck with the book, Caroline!
Thanks, Nancy. Me too. I used to read the Perry Mason novels I found at a secondhand book store in Chicago. 🙂 A former supervisor introduced me to books by P.D. James, so I read hers for a while.