This is Part II of the interview of author Maureen Grenier by Bianca Schulze from The Children’s Book Review for The Author Showcase.
Bianca Schulze: Your latest book, Someone’s Trapped—a kids’ soccer “whodunit”—is the second book in your Viking Club Mystery series.Is it important for readers to start your series from the first book, Something’s Missing—a hockey themed book—or will readers be able to pick up any of the books as a stand-alone read?
Maureen Grenier: The books are all ‘stand alones.’ I loved discovering a new series to follow when I was a child—still do, come to think of it—and I am familiar with how much repeat information is necessary for new readers without boring previous fans to death. (I don’t want to lose any of them!)
BS: Critical thinking and problem solving are naturally encouraged through reading mysteries. Are there any particular studies that you have read that have impacted the way you write mysteries for children?
MG: The most recent encouragement for the promotion of mystery stories for children is from the Yale New Haven Teachers Institute. They include detective fiction in their curriculum content because of studies showing that the same problem-solving strategies used in investigation and crime solving have important life applications.
However, I write mysteries for children because my interest is in motivating children to read. I use the structure of a mystery to appeal to a child’s natural interest in solving a puzzle, and provide a setting to which children can relate. Everything else—problem solving skills, factual information, life lessons—is secondary. None of those components are useful and available to the child if he or she isn’t motivated to read the book and motivated to finish it.
BS: Do you have a specific writing formula that you use when creating your mysteries and for how you deliver your clues to readers?
MG: I introduce each child separately in the first three chapters so that the reader will get to know them as individuals before bringing them together. I also make sure all three characters contribute to supplying clues and solving the mystery. In Someone’s Trapped, I also had them help each other find solutions to their personal problems, but that was, and is, secondary to the main focus, which is solving the mystery.
BS: Right from the age of 7 you vowed to write mystery stories because of the impact the Nancy Drew series had on you. What parallels between your own books and the Nancy Drew books do you think could be made?
MG: I think the only parallels are that my books are mystery stories and suitable for children in the same age range. My search for mystery books as a child expanded quickly and I soon found Trixie Belden, Ginny Gordon, The Hardy Boys, and many more. I think there is always room for more mystery stories with different approaches, different settings, and different characters.
BS: What should we expect to see from you next?
MG: I’m trying hard to find time to work on the third book in the Viking Club Mystery series. I have a murder mystery for adults making the rounds of publishers right now, and the outline for another one waiting for me. I’m torn! The only sure thing is that I will always be writing.
The Children’s Book Review selects authors like Maureen Grenier to feature in the Author’s Showcase.
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