I'm happy to kick off the Friday Barnes Blog Tour today, the very day Friday Barnes, Girl Detective hits shelves in the US! Check out this interview with author R.A. Spratt and exclusive original art by Phil Gosier, then run out and nab your own copy of Friday Barnes! You can also enter to win a copy near the bottom of this post.
Your main character, Friday Barnes, reminds me a bit of Sherlock Holmes. Can you share a bit about your inspiration for her character (and mystery solving process)?
Friday is influenced by a lot of different ideas.Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
She is certainly influenced by Sherlock Holmes. I like the idea of someone who is very intelligent in a useful way, but who has no social skills and is in fact is so charmless that they make people around them uncomfortable.
And Friday is like a lot of kids I went to school with. I went to a very nerdy, science focused high school. There were some very eccentric kids there. People who think differently and who are motivated differently make great inspiration for fictional characters.
I do outline. But in an erratic sort of way. I start off with a circular structure based on Joseph Campbell’s principals of a hero’s journey. I get a large sheet of cardboard, draw a circle and then draw a line across the circle about three quarters of the way up. Then I fill in plot points around the circle.What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration?
The first act takes place above the line. Then I move clockwise (Campbell moves anti-clockwise which doesn’t make any sense to me, unless he’s left handed). The second act takes up most of the space below the line and the third act, with all the action and the climax of the story takes place in the segment before the story gets back to the line. The books always end up back where they began, with the problems of the story resolved. Then I tip it over into the next story with a whopping great plot point of a cliffhanger to set up the next book.
But the outline is only a rough plan. It’s like having GPS in your car. It’s there but you don’t always turn it on.
When it actually comes to writing, what happens is the outline sits on the coffee table behind me. I drink a lot of coffee, eat a lot of chocolate and my careful plans fade into the background of my mind as the characters voices fall out, through my rapidly typing fingers onto the screen. Then I take a nap. Get up and realise I’ve written something entirely different to what I planned, but it’s pretty good, so I take the rest of the day off with the intention of writing my story from the outline tomorrow.
I was a television writer for ten years before I became an author. The first three years of my TV career I wrote jokes for a news game show (a bit like NPR’s ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me…’). Jokes are so short and news jokes have to encapsulate really complicated ideas, so expressing a complicated idea in the minimum amount of words in a funny way over and over again, day in day out for three years was excellent training in the discipline of being a writer.If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
I assume I’m not allowed to pick a swear word…My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.
When I’m writing my publishers bemoan my excessive use of obscure and multisyllabic words. The order will go out from someone important that my vocabulary must be curtailed. This leads to weird situations where I’m told to cut ‘fiddlesticks’ because it’s too long but allowed to keep ‘sisyphean’ because it’s not very long and the editor secretly enjoys indulging in a reference to Greek Mythology.
In conversation I tend to use the word ‘awesome’ a lot. I know it irritates people. But I like to be positive and enthusiastic. I find making lots of excessively positive statements, while irritating, does have an irresistibly contagious effect on people around you.
For me books are the opposite of hiding spots. When I grew up, I lived in the outer suburbs of Sydney. There wasn’t much to do. Plus in Australia you always get the sense that you are on the far side of the world from where everything is happening. So when I was a child it was books that allowed me to get out of the suburbs and explore the world, and the past, the future, and even outer space. For me books have always been a means of escaping and exploring, even when I can’t afford a plane ticket.What can readers look forward to next?
I’ve already written four books in the Friday Barnes series and I’m halfway through writing the fifth. I always end the books on a cliffhanger. And I know I’m doing something right because I get lots of angry mail from fans desperate to know what is going to happen next.
Each stop of the Friday Barnes: Girl Detective blog tour will feature a "puzzle" piece of original art from the book’s illustrator, Phil Gosier. Go to the Mac Kids Tumblr on January 24th to see the full image with all the pieces!
January 19: The Hiding Spot
January 20: The Book Monsters
January 21: Boundless Bookaholic
January 22: The Compulsive Reader
January 23: The Irish Banana Review
January 24: Mac Kids Tumblr
1 Winner. US only. Ends February 9, 2016
1 Winner. US only. Ends February 9, 2016
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About the Book
When Friday Barnes solves a bank robbery, she uses the reward money to send herself to Highcrest Academy, the most exclusive boarding school in the country--and discovers it's a hotbed of crime!
Soon she's investigating everything from disappearing homework to the terrifying Yeti haunting the school swamp. But the biggest mystery yet is Ian Wainscott, the handsomest (and most arrogant) boy in school who inexplicably hates her. Will the homework be found? Can they ever track down the Yeti? And why is Ian out to ruin her?
With black-and-white art throughout, this is the launch of an exciting new mystery series!
About the Author