Photo credit: Alexandra Dao

Tell me what inspired you to write your children’s series and are you limiting yourself to a certain number of books in this series?
I write the books that I wish I’d had as a child. I was obsessed with murder mysteries (I discovered Agatha Christie aged 12) but could never find stories that starred children as the detectives – so I made up Daisy and Hazel! I don’t see the series as having an end point – I think whatever happens, I’ll always leave the door open for more, as I enjoy writing the books so much!

How hard was it to get your first book published?
I was surprised that it happened when I was fairly young. I got my first book deal when I was 25, which I hadn’t been expecting at all. But it was very hard, and there were a lot of rejections and heartbreak along the way. I think if any author tells you their journey was easy, they’re glossing over at least part of the truth! I know there were times when I wanted to give up, and when I was certain that no one would ever be interested in Murder Most Unladylike. But I ended up finding the right agent for my book, and then the right publisher for it, and that was all I needed!

How many publishers turned you down?
I only got one offer from a publisher, which is actually fairly standard. Rejections feel so painful, but usually they’re good things – an editor needs to be utterly obsessed with your book and willing to champion it for years, and a publisher needs to make sure that there are no other books on their list that might conflict with the one you’ve written, meaning that they wouldn’t be able to focus on selling it. I am so glad that I found the right home for my book, and wouldn’t ask for anything more if I was doing it all over again!

Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say Waterstones website?
Absolutely not! That way madness lies. Sometimes I will catch sight of a review if I’m on the page for another reason, but I know that reviews are something I can’t control, and a bad one will just make me upset. I want to leave readers free to express what they think of my books, but I don’t need to be involved with that!

Would you ever consider writing for teens or adults?
I am so proud to write for the audience I do. I know that teens and adults enjoy my books, and I have amazing fans of all ages from all over the world – but I write with 8-12 year olds in mind, and I couldn’t wish for more engaged, more intelligent and more passionate readers. That was the age that I fell in love with books most deeply, and I know the books you read as a child stay with you for life.

What did you do before becoming a writer?
I worked in editorial departments at different publishers – so I saw the other side of the business! It’s really come in handy for me, as I know what my publishing team are doing while I’m off writing my books.

Which author inspires you?
Diana Wynne Jones, Agatha Christie, Terry Pratchett, Josephine Tey and Eva Ibbotson. They’re all authors I discovered before I was 14 – which just shows you how much early reading can shape someone!

Which genres do you read yourself?
Crime fiction, thrillers, historical fiction, sci fi, fantasy, romance, YA, children’s books, picture books, graphic novels … I read everything!

What is your biggest motivator?
On a day to day basis, deadlines – but I know that even if I didn’t have a deadline for a book, I would still wake up every morning wanting to tell stories. They’re constantly playing in my brain, and I know I have to put them down on a page!

What will always distract you?
The next thing on my to-do list …

How much say do you have in your book covers?
Very little! I am lucky that my publishers ask my thoughts on covers, and take my feedback into account. But if it came down to it, I would always step back. Design isn’t something I understand – I’m just happy that my books look so amazing! My Murder Most Unladylike illustrator is Nina Tara, and The Guggenheim Mystery is illustrated by David Dean.

As a child were you a great reader?
Absolutely! I read everything I could get my hands on, and spent most of my life with my nose in a book.

Which book shop is your favourite?
This is a loaded question! I worked at Blackwell’s for a year, so they hold a special place in my heart. My favourite second-hand bookshop is probably Murder and Mayhem in Hay-on-Wye, as they’re a specialist mystery bookshop. But really, I don’t think I’ve met a bookshop that I didn’t love, and I think Waterstones is brilliant.

What can you not resist buying?
Books, of course!

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?
I give myself a wordcount to hit, if I’m writing a first draft, or a page count if I’m editing. I try to write in the mornings and do admin in the afternoons, as I’m most productive before lunch. Other than that, I don’t have many rituals.

How many books are in your own to be read pile?
I don’t have a TBR pile, I have a TBR bookcase. I get so many books from friends and publishers – plus my bookshop habit – that I can’t keep up with myself. There are so many great stories out there!

What is your current read?
I’m reading Stella Duffy and Ngaio Marsh’s Money in the Morgue – it’s a murder mystery that Ngaio began during WW2, and Stella has finished. I’m really enjoying it!


About Robin Stevens

Robin 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. She became obsessed with crime fiction as a child, and she is now the bestselling, award-winning author of The Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries and The Guggenheim Mystery.

Her newest book A Spoonful of Murder is out on the 8th of February from Puffin.

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