Fleur Bradley is a talented Colorado based author whose new children’s book, “Midnight at the Barclay Hotel” came out recently and is available anywhere books are sold. She tells readers all about her new book and why she became an author who likes r
Can you tell me how you came up with the idea for your book?
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel really started with my love for mysteries. When I was a kid, there was no YA section, so when I worked my way through the kid department at my library, a kind librarian suggested I try Agatha Christie. I’ve been hooked on mysteries ever since.
I wanted to write a book for kids that has the same elements as a Christies novel, with a strong (murder) mystery, a slightly over-the-top cast of characters, and an interesting setting—but in a safe, kid-friendly way. And I wanted to introduce kids to the elements of investigation in a mystery story, how a detective might search for motive, means, and opportunity for each of the suspects. Then, I visited the Stanley Hotel, and was fascinated by the ghostly history and interesting backstory. That combination of mystery and spooky setting is how Midnight at the Barclay Hotel was born.
Why do you write books for children?
I love that middle-grade age—kids around eight to twelve years old are smart, and still love discovering new worlds and stories. I’m also a strong advocate for reaching reluctant readers, those kids who aren’t too crazy about reading. I believe there’s a book out there for everyone, and mysteries are a great way to reach a reluctant reader.
Plus, I’m still a little bit of a kid at heart myself. With my writing, I can see the world through a twelve-year-old’s eyes, which is a fun escape.
How long did it take you to get published?
I spent more than ten years writing mostly short mystery fiction, and got a few dozen stories published before I tried my hand at novel-length fiction. I wrote about six YA manuscripts before landing an agent and ending up writing middle-grade mystery; my first book Double Vision came out in 2012. I’m glad I took the long way to get there—it helped me learn how to write, how to work with an editor, and how to take rejection gracefully…
I still write short stories between projects. They’re so fun to write.
How long have you been writing?
About eighteen years (wow, that was longer than I realized…). It’s strange to look back on all those years now. Mostly, I had a lot of fun, and made a bunch of friends who have all taken theirown path in writing and publishing. Even though eighteen years is a long time, I feel like I’m just getting started.
Why did you want to be an author?
I wanted something that was just mine. I had two young children when I first started writing, and was staying home with them, taking care of the household… It’s easy to feel like you’re disappearing a little when you’re a stay-at-home mom. I already loved to read, and decided to try my hand at writing, so I had something that was just my own. It took a few tries, but my first short mystery was published by a tiny-press magazine called The Storyteller.
Writing for kids is even more motivating, because you hear from kids who tell you they loved the book. Or from kids who didn’t like to read, but now that they’ve read your book, they’re ready to keep reading. That’s so rewarding.
Can you give tips to writers about writing for kids?
Often when I talk to writers who are just starting out writing for kids, they’ll tell you how they want to teach kids this or that (like how bullying is bad, or you shouldn’t lie). That’s great, but it usually doesn’t produce a very good or enjoyable book.
If you want to write for kids, you have to remember what it was like to be one. What fears, hopes, dreams did you have when you were eight, ten, twelve years old? Write about that. The best middle-grade writers remember what it was like to be a kid. It’s actually a lot of fun and a little magical.
What about for young readers and tips you would give them about being an author?
Keep writing! Every little bit helps and adds up to a lot of words. Find some fellow writers your age, and give each other (kind) feedback by starting a writers group. Keep at it, even if you feel discouraged sometimes.
Are you doing any online events in December? If so, do you have links?
Most of my events in December are school visits, but I am doing a fun virtual event on New Year’s Eve with Second Star to the Right, a great children’s bookstore in Denver. You can find out more here:
About Fleur Bradley:
Fleur Bradley is the author of the spooky middle-grade mystery Midnight at the Barclay Hotel (Viking/Penguin Random House) which recently made NPR’s Best of 2020 Books list. She’s passionate about two things: mysteries and getting kids to read. Fleur regularly does (virtual) school visits and speaks at librarian and educator conferences on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, Fleur now lives in Colorado Springs with her family, and entirely too many cats.
For more information on Fleur and her books, visit www.ftbradley.com, and on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.
About Midnight at the Barclay Hotel:
Hunting ghosts and solving the case before checkout? All in a weekend’s work.
When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he’d find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner’s death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary.
Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother’s name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.