Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Fleur Bradley (Daybreak On Raven Island)!
Meet the Author: Fleur Bradley
Fleur Bradley has loved puzzles and (scary) mysteries ever since she first discovered Agatha Christie novels. She’s the author of numerous mysteries for kids, including Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, which was on many award lists, including the Reading the West, Agatha and Anthony Awards, Sasquatch Award, and won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, Sunshine State Young Readers Award and the Colorado Book Award.
A reluctant reader herself, Fleur regularly does librarian and educator conference talks on ways to reach reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Colorado with her family and entirely too many rescue animals. Find out more about Fleur at http://www.ftbradley.com and follow her on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.
About the Book: Daybreak on Raven Island
From the critically acclaimed author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel comes a thrilling new middle grade mystery novel inspired by Alcatraz Prison.
Tori, Marvin, and Noah would rather be anywhere else than on the seventh-grade class field trip to Raven Island prison. Tori would rather be on the soccer field, but her bad grades have benched her until further notice; Marvin would rather be at the first day of a film festival with his best friend, Kevin; and Noah isn’t looking forward to having to make small talk with his classmates at this new school.
But when the three of them stumble upon a dead body in the woods, miss the last ferry back home, and then have to spend the night on Raven Island, they find that they need each other now more than ever. They must work together to uncover a killer, outrun a motley ghost-hunting crew, and expose the age-old secrets of the island all before daybreak.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
All my books start with setting: I find a real-life setting and then create a fictional version (so I can make it what I want). For Daybreak on Raven Island, my inspiration came from Alcatraz: the isolation, the abandoned prison, and the unsolved mystery of the 1962 prison escape. I created Raven Island as a fictionalized version of Alcatraz, added some Hitchcock vibes with the ravens, and sent my kids there on a field trip where they miss the ferry home. Spending the night on a haunted island was the perfect start for Daybreak on Raven Island.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
All three kids have bits of myself, though I think I feel closest to Noah. He has a lot of anxiety, and I wanted to explore how that feels, and how much worse that is if you are trapped on a scary island… I can be fearful like Noah—I’m not sure I would be as brave as he is in the book.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title came first—after Midnight at the Barclay Hotel (my previous lightly scary mystery), I was developing this idea for another standalone novel, but one that felt slightly akin. So daybreak in the title as a follow-on to midnight.
I also wanted Daybreak on Raven Island to feel slightly older than Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, so it would make a natural follow-on for readers. For me, titles can be helpful to have a focus when I’m writing. Plus, it’s fun to come up with a good title.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Toward the end, there is a concluding scene where Marvin, Tori and Noah draw out the killer at the Raven Island cemetery. I loved writing that scene because it shows how these three unlikely friends can work together. It’s a bit of a nod to the classic mystery, where the detective brings all the suspects together to reveal the ‘dunit’ of the whodunit.
In this case I framed it as a movie, since Marvin in the book wants to make a horror movie. It was fun to blend mystery and horror when writing Daybreak on Raven Island.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
Writing is re-writing… I used to enjoy writing the first draft the most. I still do, but I know that the real work is in revision (about a million gazillion times). I’ve learned to love editing.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2022?
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of Sisterhood of Sleuths by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, the perfect mystery for kids. I’m also looking forward to Ira Marcks’ Spirit Week, a horror graphic novel for kids. Chris Grabenstein’s second book in the Dog Squad series (not scary), Cat Crew is out in October. I’ve preordered these books as a present to myself the next few months. Fall is coming up, which means lots of great new books to curl up with—I can’t wait.
YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?
It’s better to share whatever you’re dealing with than to bottle things up. You’re not alone. When I was writing Daybreak on Raven Island, I didn’t realize I was playing with that theme of loneliness until I was already done writing the book. I worked on Daybreak on Raven Island during the Covid lockdown, so it’s no surprise loneliness is where my mind went.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
As a writer, I’d like to think that I’m good at writing books for reluctant readers. I keep the pace up and aim to write an engaging (scary) mystery. I’m a bit of a reluctant reader myself, so I’m good at figuring out what keeps kids engaged.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
There are so many good causes… Most recently, I loved the #600BooksofHope book drive for the kids in Uvalde, TX. That gutted me, and it felt good to put my love for books (for kids) into donating. (link: Authors, Publishers Provide Books and Hope to Uvalde Children (publishersweekly.com) )
Locally to me in Colorado, I love BookGive, a non-profit organization in Denver that puts books in the hands of readers. Access is so important, and BookGive does great work to make that happen. (link: BookGive – Denver Book Charity Distributing Free Books (bookgivedenver.org))
YABC: What advice do you have for new writers?
It’s said so many times because it’s true: don’t give up! Keep writing something new, learning new things—that’s the best part of being a writer. And find some writer friends who are at roughly the same stage you are in your career. Writer friends keep you motivated.
Book’s Title: Daybreak On Raven Island
Author: Fleur Bradley
Release Date: 08/23/2022
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Age Range: 8-12