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August 14, 2015

Author Interview with Elizabeth Varadan / Middle Grade Mystery


I'm over at Unicorn Bell today with....

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Please welcome the wonderful Elizabeth Varadan! She is answering questions about Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, a Middle Grade book featuring Sherlock Holmes!


Please tell us about your current release.
           
Ten-year-old Imogene, the daughter of a banker, harbors a secret desire to become a detective – an unseemly notion for a Victorian girl. A day after her obnoxious step-cousins pay a visit, her mother's pearls go missing. When Sherlock Holmes is called in, Imogene sees her chance to learn from the great Mr. Holmes. She hangs around asking questions until Holmes decides to make her his assistant, telling her to list things that seem suspicious.

Rusty, a mudlark and Mr. Holmes’s messenger, brings a message from Mr. Holmes’s message to the kitchen doorway. Rusty and Imogene become friends, teaming up as sleuths to find the missing pearls. But Imogene is headstrong. When she takes matters into her own hands, soon her life is in danger.

Title: Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls
Author: Elizabeth Varaden
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery
Publisher: MX Publishing
Release Date: June 15, 2015

 Books Links:
Free shipping worldwide: Book Depository.
E-book format: Kindle / Kobo.
It will also soon be available on iTunes.


1. What inspired you to write this book?

My husband and I are both fans of the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels. I’ve also enjoyed several of the “pastiches” that abound, mysteries that use the characters of Holmes and Watson, and even Mrs. Hudson, the housekeeper. When I had a chance to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London a few years back, it occurred to me that it would be fun to write a story of my own about Sherlock. I didn’t think much about it after that, as I had other works in progress. But then it occurred to me it would be fun to write a story about a young Victorian girl becoming friends with Mr. Holmes. After that, the idea just grew into a mystery – I suppose because any story involving Sherlock would have to be a mystery. So then it became a matter of what kind of mystery? It would have to be an inside job, as Victorian girls weren’t allowed to go anywhere on their own to explore anything without a chaperone. Once I had that rough setting, it was a matter of researching the era and having fun with the plot and characters.

2. I love that your young character learns from Sherlock Holmes. Is this book part of a series?

I do have at least two sequels planned.

3. That's great! Did you do special research for Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls?

Oh, for sure. Tons of research. I visited sites, wrote letters, studied train timetables of the year in question, perused maps. But I love research, so it was part of the enjoyment of writing this book. And now I have all that information for the sequels.

4. How did you come up with the names for your characters?

Well, Imogene came from my own ten-year-old yearnings to be Nancy Drew and the name I picked for my fantasized detective self. Rusty’s name seemed a natural, once I had described him as “ginger haired” (the British description of red hair).

5. What is Imogene's biggest weakness?

She’s pretty headstrong, once she gets an idea into her head. And Sherlock also has to remind her that a good detective never lets emotion cloud judgment.

6. What are a few things we would find in or on your desk? 

You’d be lucky to find anything in my desk. It’s usually a real mess of dictionaries, pens, post-it notes stuck all along the edge of the shelf, cards, stacks of notebooks. But – I know where everything is.

7. Sounds like a writer's desk. ;) Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

I did self-publish an earlier book, a middle grade fantasy called, The Fourth Wish. But I wanted a traditional publisher for this one. And, in the United States, you have to get permission from the Doyle Estate to use the characters of Holmes and Watson, as the copyright hasn’t run out in America. The lawyer for the estate in America is Jon Lellenberg, and he was very helpful at every turn. He actually suggested MX Publisher, as they focus on Sherlock Holmes related books.

8. That was very nice of Jon! What is the silliest thing you ever did while writing a story? 

I was writing a mystery for adults that involved a woman being kidnapped and held hostage in a cabin in the mountains. To figure out how to describe her escape via a window, I climbed out of the window of a duplex my husband and I were living in at the time – several times! We were new in the neighborhood, and I was thankful that everyone in that little cul-de-sac seemed to work during the day so that no one could report me to the police.

9. Your advice to new writers?

There is no substitute for the  magic of rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting. A knack for storytelling is just the beginning. You have to keep polishing and refining your work until you get it right.

10. Rewriting is necessary and important. Tell us about your writing process. 

Hmm. It’s really a hodge-podge. Sometimes I’m a panster; sometimes I outline, but that’s often after the book has been written and I’m re-writing. Then I outline what happened the first time around to see where the holes are; sometimes I just scribble down ideas and then put them in a file to look at later.



BIO: 

Elizabeth Varadan is a former elementary school teacher. She taught most elementary grades, but her favorites were the middle grades, and she now writes middle grade fiction. She and her husband live in Midtown Sacramento, California, a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood with bookshops and art stores nearby. Her children’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Ladybug, Friends, and Skipping Stones Magazine. Her adult flash fiction has appeared in several online and print magazines, and her poetry has been anthologized in Vine Leaves Journal and The Stray Branch. 


Author Links: 

Victorian Scribbles: 

Elizabeth Varadan’s Fourth Wish:

Facebook Author Page: 





Thank you Elizabeth for telling us about Imogene!

Please leave a comment for Elizabeth! :)


46 comments:

sherry fundin said...

Congratulations, Elizabeth, on the new release. The cover seems appropriate for the setting of the novel and I don't know how anything could go wrong with Sherlock on the case. Great interview and thanks for sharing.
sherry @ fundinmental

nashvillecats2 said...

I also congratulate Elizabeth on a wonderful book, also the cover .
Great review and interview. Made absorbing reading. Thank you.
Yvonne.

Pat Hatt said...

Very true, lots of rewriting must come due. Always enjoy Sherlock stories too, sounds like a fun one indeed

Chrys Fey said...

The cover is lovely, isn't it? Thanks for commenting, Sherry!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for visiting, Yvonne!

Chrys Fey said...

Rewriting is a must.

diedre Knight said...

Bravo, Elizabeth! I can see this being a must-read for all budding detectives! What a delightful little video, cleaver and suspenseful!
Great tip for writers on rewriting. It's simply a part of the process and really not such a bad thing :-) Very best wishes!

Jeffrey Scott said...

Congratulations on the new book. Looks like a fun read.
Love the interview questions and the cute video. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Chrys, thanks so much for this interview. I really enjoyed your questions. They made me think all over again about the book and about the writing process. Have a great day.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Diedre, thanks for posting an announcement about this interview on your blog. That was nice of you. Thanks too, for your kind comments here.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Jeffrey. A friend of mine made the video and his daughter acted the part of Imogene. I thought she did such a good job!

Yolanda Renée said...

Love the cover, and the idea for the book, genius!
Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Chrys Fey said...

You're very welcome! I am glad to have you on my blog, though I did misspell your last name at first. Oopsy! Sorry about that!

Chrys Fey said...

Glad you liked the interview and Elizabeth's trailer, Jeffrey!

Chrys Fey said...

This definitely would've been a book I would've been interested in as a child because I loved pretending I was a detective. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for leaving Elizabeth a comment, Yolanda!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congratulations Elizabeth. I have read the book and I just LOVED it. I can't believe that you climbed in and out of the window to be able to write about it authentically.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Not to worry! The whole world spells my name wrong,

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rachna, for my cozy mystery, I had my husband shove me up against a wall with his hands around my throat so that I could see what my victim would see in a scene. Poor Rajan. He's the epitome of gentleness! But I got a good scene out of it!

betty said...

Such a cute idea for a book! Loved watching the trailer of it! Wishing Elizabeth much success with it!

betty

Nancy Herman said...

Really good interview, Mitty. Even I learned something new about you (the repeated escape through your bathroom window)! And it's good to know that you now have TWO sequels planned for Emogene.

Tonja Drecker said...

Congratulations, Elizabeth! I'm going to have to get my hands on it (not only because I love MG but I can't resist Holmes). Love that your writing desk is filled, but you know where everything is. Good luck with it!

Chrys Fey said...

LOL! And the whole world spells my first name wrong. :P

sage said...

The creativity of working in Holmes and setting it in his day is wonderful Congratulations, Elizabeth, on your publication

Liz A. said...

Sounds like a fun book. I've always loved the Victorian era.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great interview, ladies. Congratulations on your book, Elizabeth. Every time I visit your blog and see the cover I think how adorable it is. The story sounds fascinating too. Good luck to you.

Birgit said...

The book sounds great and I love her name which seems to fit right in with the period. The interview is excellent and I think it would be funny to see someone climb in and out of a window many times. I would think that person had a bit too much wine:)

Chrys Fey said...

Isn't is a cute idea? I think it's great! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for visiting, Nancy!

Chrys Fey said...

MG is such a fun genre and Holmes? Really...who couldn't resist?

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for leaving Elizabeth a great comment, Sage!

Chrys Fey said...

The Victorian era is amazing.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, Beverly!

Chrys Fey said...

I wish her husband could've caught her doing that on camera. That video would been a nice addition to this interview. ;)

Sherry Ellis said...

Love the cover! I've always liked Victoria Era settings.

Unknown said...

Sherlock Holmes is definitely the best detective character ever written, no wonder he's so inspiring. I love the premise of the book, and wish Elizabeth much success! :)

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth and I have the same writing process! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who waits until done to do the outline to check for holes and such :)
I like the sound of this book (plus Sherlock is my fave). I think my kiddo would like it too, maybe I'll pick it up!

Anonymous said...

I love mystery and detective stories. They really captured my imagination when I was young; they still do. I think I only read one Sherlock Holmes book, but I'd like to read more. I also have Elizabeth's book on my Kindle.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I love that you crawled out the window over and over for research. I've done some weird things when trying to figure out how to describe something. Nice of the lawyer for the estate to help you. We've got a Sherlock Holmes exhibit coming to our museum in Denver soon, and I'm looking forward to it.

Misha Gerrick said...

This story sounds absolutely charming. :-)

Chrys Fey said...

So have I. :)

Chrys Fey said...

How can you write about this era and a young detective and now include Sherlock, right? :)

Chrys Fey said...

Sometimes it's easier doing it that way.

Chrys Fey said...

I haven't read one Sherlock Holmes book. Elizabeth's will be my first. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for leaving Elizabeth a comment, Shannon! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Doesn't it? :)