Today we're excited to chat with Elizabeth Bunce author of
Premediated Myrtle: How To Get Away With Myrtle.
Read on for more about Elizabeth and her book, an excerpt, plus a giveaway!
Meet Elizabeth Bunce!
Elizabeth C. Bunce grew up on a steady diet of Sherlock Holmes, Trixie Belden, and Quincy, M.E., and always played the lead prosecutor in mock trial. She has never had a governess, and no one has ever accused her of being irrepressible, but a teacher did once call her “argumentative”—which was entirely untrue, and she can prove it. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and their cats. Premeditated Myrtle is her first book for middle-grade readers. You can find her online at elizabethcbunce.com [elizabethcbunce.com].
Meet Premediated Myrtle: How To Get Away With Myrtle!
Before the train has left the station, England’s most accomplished new detective already is on a suspect’s trail, and readers will be delighted to travel along.
Myrtle Hardcastle has no desire to go on a relaxing travel excursion with her aunt Helena when there are More Important things to be done at home, like keeping close tabs on criminals and murder trials. Unfortunately, she has no say in the matter. So off Myrtle goes—with her governess, Miss Judson, and cat, Peony, in tow—on a fabulous private railway coach headed for the English seaside.
Myrtle is thrilled to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Bloom, a professional insurance investigator aboard to protect the priceless Northern Lights tiara. But before the train reaches its destination, both the tiara and Mrs. Bloom vanish. When Myrtle arrives, she and Peony discover a dead body in the baggage car. Someone has been murdered—with Aunt Helena’s sewing shears.
The trip is derailed, the local police are inept, and Scotland Yard is in no rush to arrive. What’s a smart, bored Young Lady of Quality stranded in a washed-up carnival town to do but follow the evidence to find out which of her fellow travelers is a thief and a murderer?
~ Author Chat ~
Elizabeth C. Bunce interview for Premeditated Myrtle | YA Books Central
- What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
There are a couple of parts to this. First is my readers! My young adult novels have been trending darker and more mature, but I get a lot of fan mail from fifth and sixth graders—younger kids who respond to my writing. I decided to write something with them in mind: a book that still had everything they loved about my work (the dense prose, rich worldbuilding, historical detail, and weighty themes) but in a story that was more appropriate for younger kids. Which, naturally, meant a murder mystery! 😉 But a cozy mystery, of course, where there is no violence on the page, and justice prevails.
The second part is answered in Question 3, below…
The third part is the character of Peony the cat. She brought the whole story together for me. I had been noodling with the idea of a middle grade mystery with a contemporary setting for a while, but it hadn’t gotten beyond the brainstorming stage. Then on a dark and stormy night, a stray cat wandered into our lives, took over my household, and insinuated herself into the story—transforming it into a Victorian mystery about a girl and her neighbor’s cat. It was meant to be!
In an unhappy ending, Peony’s real-life counterpart passed away suddenly before I had finished her book. But I am forever grateful to everything that Sophie brought into our lives (cats and Myrtle!), and Premeditated Myrtle is dedicated to her.
- Who is your favorite character in the book?
Well, Peony, of course! And Myrtle, naturally—I was Myrtle, twelve years old and called weird and argumentative, more interested in science and school than in decoding the mysteries of which kids were cooler because they had the latest Guess jeans and pelerines. But then there’s Miss Judson. I want to be Miss Judson when I finally grow up! Oh, and maybe Mr. Blakeney, and---
- Which came first, the title or the novel?
Oh, the title! It doesn’t always happen this way, but Premeditated Myrtle was the serendipitous brainchild of a groggy morning attempt to say “premeditated murder.” (Doesn’t everyone discuss such things during the breakfast rush?) As soon as I heard the words aloud, I said, “That is a middle-grade mystery!!” …But the title sat in my idea file (along with another setting and premise… and no case!) for a few years before Sophie/Peony the cat wandered onto the page and set me straight.
- Do you have a favorite writing snack?
I wish I had some hip and stylish answer to this question (kale ice cream?), or something brilliantly thematic (like a playlist): tea and scones, of course! But, sadly, the truth is closer to coffee and a granola bar.
- Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
To enjoy it. This is the best job in the world, and I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to do it. It is still a job, and it has its share of drudgery and un-fun tasks (like those days you really don’t feel like revising), but now I try to take more time to revel in all the wonderful steps along the way, and to acknowledge just how dang cool it is that I get to make up people and tell their stories for a living.
- What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Have you seen the cover? How could anyone possibly answer that?! I love that the spines show the number of the book in the series (how many times have we all stood in the mystery stacks at the library trying to figure out exactly which Dectective Sherringford Hope novel we’re on, again?). I am in awe of how artist Brett Helquist captured Myrtle’s spirited determination—and in one of my favorite scenes in the book, no less! But I keep coming back to the Easter egg he included on the front cover. If you look very closely, you’ll find Peony there, and where he put her is just brilliant.
- Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Drafting is a lot easier and more fun, but revising is more rewarding. I love the rush of discovery from drafting—when it’s going well, it’s exactly like being curled up with a new book by one of your favorite writers! (It’s also over faster! My drafting work days are done as soon as I hit my word count. Revising takes me all day.) Revising is grueling—turning your brain inside-out as you figure out how to rethink everything. But there is nothing like the satisfaction of figuring out exactly how to arrange the big pieces and finesse the transitions, building and deepening the connections, and tweaking the words. When you’ve finally slotted in that missing piece that suddenly brings the story together, it’s magical. But you’ve definitely earned it.
- What’s on your TBR pile?
Right now, I’m filling in gaps in my own mystery reading. I was such a huge Trixie Belden fan growing up that I missed out on Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames. Returning to Golden Age British mysteries, I’ve just finished a collection of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, and I have a big pile of Margery Allingham and Agatha Christie to read and re-read. I know a lot of authors don’t read while they’re drafting, but I’m quite the opposite. Like a marathon runner or body builder in training, I must be fed regular and hearty doses of stories while I work!
- What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
I’ve just finished my umpteenth re-read of Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life. Every time I read this book, I rediscover something fascinating that I desperately needed to know. Bryson’s curiosity for everything is electrifying and delightful. The man can make reading about paint drying riveting. (And in At Home he does!)
- What’s up next for you?
More Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries! I’m having such fun with this series, I don’t want it to stop. Book 2, How to Get Away with Myrtle, is also being released October 6, in a rare, Two-Book Launch Event Extravaganza. I’ve turned in Book 3, Cold-Blooded Myrtle, which will be out next October (2021), and I’ve just started working on Book 4.
How To Get Away With Myrtle
By: Elizabeth Bunce
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
One winner will receive a copy of Premediated Myrtle & How To Get Away With Myrtle (Elizabeth Bunce) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*