Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Author Journeys: Alan Bradley

I recently fell in love with a character in a book: Ms. Flavia de Luce of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia is 11; lives in a rambling mansion in a 1950s English countryside; has an affinity for chemistry, specifically poisons; and gets involved in solving a mystery when a dead man appears in her cucumber patch.

I'm very much of the opinion that Flavia and Goldenrod, the 11-year-old protagonist of my novel, would be very good friends if an ocean, a few decades, and a publishing house didn't separate them.  

Even besides that, though, it's no wonder I love this book as it combines quite a few of my very favorite things:

- smart girl protagonists
- English countrysides
-  mysteries
- unabashed quirkiness

If I love a book, I'm one of those people who wants to find out as much about the author as possible. Here are some truly fascinating facts about Alan Bradley:

- Alan Bradley is not an 11-year-old girl, but rather a man who got his debut fiction novel (this one) published at the age of 70.
- Bradley won the Crime Writers' Association's Debut Dagger Award based on 15 pages of this novel. Then the book went to auction and was purchased by a publisher. And then, Bradley actually finished writing it.
- Before going to pick up his Dagger Award, Bradley had never before even visited England.

As a writer, you're often told to write what you know. This is absolutely sound advice but one of my favorite parts of fiction writing is very much the opposite - researching and exploring worlds that I never have and probably never will experience. It's been very cool to find out that Alan Bradley has had so much success with doing exactly that.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first in a series of Flavia de Luce mysteries. I can't wait to pick up the rest!

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