A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Jolly Foul Play! Cat Doyle interviews Robin Stevens about her latest release!

*KLAXONS* Happy Book Birthday, Robin! *Throws Confetti* Thank you for letting me interview you! I’ll try not to be too intrusive.

Thank you so much! I’m so pleased to be here today.


Question One: Jolly Foul Play is your fourth foray into the ever-exciting lives of Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong. Huzzah! This time, the murder takes place on Bonfire Night. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind this story?

I wanted to set another story back at school – it’s where Hazel and Daisy began their adventures, so it made sense to give them another boarding school murder to solve! The bonfire night plot was down to my friends Mo O’Hara and Mel Salisbury, who both sent me messages that said ‘You should kill someone during a firework display!’ Any idea good enough to occur to two authors was clearly good enough to use.


Question Two: If you could give your characters one piece of advice each going into this next story, what would it be?

‘Listen to each other! Don’t second-guess each other – your friendship is important.’

But, of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story if all of my characters made sensible decisions …


Question Three: In honour of this being Question Three, can you tell us three fun facts or tid-bits about Jolly Foul Play?

  1. I had a lot of fun bringing some of my favourite characters from the first three books back. Kitty, Beanie and Lavinia, Daisy and Hazel’s dorm mates, play a big part in the mystery, and I’ve even managed to sneak in Alexander, the boy who helped Daisy and Hazel solve the Orient Express murder.
  2. All of the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries are murders (of course) but this case also features another sort of crime, one that I’ve wanted to put in a book for a while …
  3. And while we’re talking about wishlists, there’s a scene that I’ve been wanting to write since the first book. I’ve always known that I wanted to have Daisy shinning up a drainpipe, and I finally got to make that happen in Jolly Foul Play. Expect exciting rooftop scenes …


Question Four: Hazel and Daisy often find themselves in dangerous and mysterious situations. What’s the most dangerous or mysterious situation you’ve ever found yourself in?

I have to admit: I love the thought of danger and mystery – when they happen to other people. I’ve never solved anything more deadly that the mystery of Who Was Eating My Friend’s Chocolate Ice Cream (my housemate at university – we hid and caught her taking it out of the freezer), or more mysterious than Who Wrote A Christmas Card To My Mother But Forgot To Sign Their Name (the clue was in the Swindon postmark on the envelope). Those are enough for me!


Question Five: The Wells and Wong series is full of mysterious murders, which is endlessly fun, especially for me, because I do love a bit of murder. What is the most fascinating historical murder you’ve ever read about?

The one that got me hooked on historical murder was the Road House Murder, which happened in 1860. The murder took place at night, after the house had been locked up, so only the family could be suspects. The victim was a child, too, which has upset me since I first heard about it aged 12. No one was ever convicted for the crime, either, although it’s pretty clear who was to blame (I won’t spoil it for you – read up on it in Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher). Domestic crimes like the Road House Murder interest me so much more than cases like Jack the Ripper – there’s something random and wide-open about serial killings that I can’t even get my head around.


Question Six: Ever since the release of Murder Most Unladylike, you have enjoyed incredibly well-deserved success and gained a ton of fans (myself included). Do you have a favourite book-related memory or experience that stands out in your mind?

At the Cambridge launch of First Class Murder I met a little girl called Florence who had come from Amsterdam to see me that day. No coincidence that there’s a Florence in Jolly Foul Play – I had to thank her somehow!


Question Seven: THIS IS THE HARRY POTTER ONE. What Hogwarts houses would Daisy and Hazel be in? And what would their favourite subjects be?

This is easy! Daisy is clearly a Slytherin – smart, ruthless and with a very sharp understanding of what makes people tick. Hazel is a Hufflepuff – kind, thoughtful and fixated on food. I think Daisy would enjoy Transfiguration, because she’d love being able to manipulate things in the way she does people. Hazel would be a Potions girl – it’s all about logic and following a recipe, after all.


Question Eight: If you could drop Hazel and Daisy into any place in any country in the world to solve a murder, where would you put them?

I’d love to send them to Egypt one day. They could go on their own personal Nile cruise – just like Poirot in Death on the Nile!


Question Nine: Where do you think Hazel and Daisy will be ten years on from Jolly Foul Play. (Assuming they don’t get murdered…)

There’s one thing I’m clear about: Daisy and Hazel will not die! Ten years on from Jolly Foul Play they’ll be 24, and it’ll be the end of 1945. They’ll still be recovering from World War II, like the rest of the world. I know that Daisy had a spying job – something for the government, dangerous and covert. Hazel got a job at Bletchley Park. They’re still friends, and I think they still solve mysteries together!


Question Ten: And finally, can you tell us something about the next book, pretty please?

I can! Although I don’t have the title yet, I’ve written the first draft. It takes place in Cambridge, at Daisy’s brother Bertie’s college over the Christmas holidays. Alexander will feature, as will his best friend George. There will be a very dastardly murder, a dangerous bet and some more death-defying night-time climbing. I’m having an incredibly fun time working on it …


robin-stevens-author-photoRobin Stevens was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.‬
When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of ‬The Murder of Roger Ackroyd‪ and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. When it occurred to her that she was never going to be able to grow her own spectacular walrus moustache, she decided that Agatha Christie was the more achieveable option.‬
‪She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She then went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and now she works at a children’s publisher, which is pretty much the best day job she can imagine. ‬
‪Robin now lives in Cambridge with her boyfriend and her pet bearded dragon, Watson.‬
ccCatherine Doyle is a 26-year-old writer from the West of Ireland. She holds a BA in Psychology and an MA in English. As a child she was an annoying smarty-pants with an overactive imagination. She feels lucky to have now found a healthy outlet for her tendency to make up stories. Her debut YA novel, VENDETTA, is the first in a trilogy. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and classic mafia culture, the novel takes place in modern-day Chicago, where Catherine’s mother grew up and was published by Chicken House in January 2015.


This entry was posted on March 24, 2016 by and tagged , , , .

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