I'm over at Unicorn Bell today with....
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
Free shipping worldwide: Book Depository.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Varadan’s Fourth Wish:
Facebook Author Page:
Thank you Elizabeth for telling us about Imogene!
Please leave a comment for Elizabeth! :)