FLEUR BRADLEY – Mystery Puzzle Master

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, 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.

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.

Do you write in more than one genre? Although most people know me as the author of mysteries for kids, I also write short stories and YA. It’s good to stretch your writing muscle a little, I think. I also make sure I read a lot outside my own genre, so I know what’s going on.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in my home office—I’m so fortunate to have one! For years, I wrote in waiting rooms (while my kids were in gymnastics or art classes), food courts, and my dining room. It’s so nice to have a dedicated space. My kids are grown, so that helps too. I have all the time to write.

Tell us about your writing process: I usually start with a broad concept—the crime, since I write mystery, and what I want the book to feel like. That last part is a little vague, but I know a good recipe for a book when I see it, even if it’s just in my imagination.

Setting is a big part of my process too. It creates the mood, and with some research, I usually find ways to use setting. My most recent book, Daybreak on Raven Island, is set on a fictionalized version of Alcatraz. I used the real-life setting as inspiration for everything from the horror feel of the book to the mysteries my three kid characters are trying to solve.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Probably letting it go once it’s time for publication. You can edit forever. That’s just the truth. There comes a time to let readers pass judgment.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Both MWA and SinC here in Colorado have been hugely helpful. They cheer me on and provide simple camaraderie. It’s nice to have people to talk mystery with.

On the children’s writers side, I love my local chapter of SCBWI. I’m very lucky here in Colorado to have so many writer friends.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? I was not a fan of Stephen King until I started reading his short stories. I still don’t always have the patience for his really long books, but I can appreciate the storytelling now.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I love outlining, and the longer I’m doing this, the more I believe in outlining. It just takes too much time to edit without a solid outline. I teach outlining workshops now; I’m such a believer.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I like to take a real-life setting and then fictionalize it, so I can make it what I want. For Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, I used the Stanley Hotel here in Colorado (from The Shining, in case you’re not familiar). For Daybreak on Raven Island, I ‘built’ Raven Island based on Alcatraz. It’s such an incredible tool. Setting can change a story completely, so I try to have that figured out early on in my process.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Daybreak on Raven Island just came out, so I’m spending a lot of time doing virtual and in-person events. Writing-wise, I’m working on another mystery for kids and another for teens. I hope to finish both by the end of 2022 and then will have to see if they find a home somewhere. There are no guarantees in publishing.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Stay positive, and surround yourself with people (especially fellow writers) who lift you up. Publishing is tough and full of rejection. You want friends to pick you up when you’re down and buy you cake when there’s something to celebrate.

How do our readers contact you?

Here’s my website: Fleur Bradley (ftbradley.com)

I hang out on Twitter: Fleur Bradley – preorder DAYBREAK ON RAVEN ISLAND! (@FTBradleyAuthor) / Twitter

And Instagram: Fleur Bradley (@fleurbradley) • Instagram photos and videos

6 Comments

  1. Marilyn Meredith

    I met Fleur long ago at I think a Left Coast Crime convention. I loved Midnight at the Barclay Hotel and looking forward to reading the new one.

    Reply
  2. Margaret Mizushima

    So glad that you have another book out, Fleur! I can’t wait to read it. And I can’t wait until my granddaughter is old enough so that we can read them together! Best wishes for this new book!

    Reply
  3. Marie Sutro

    Fleur is absolutely right! Friends who pick you up are worth their weight in gold!

    Reply
  4. Debra Bokur

    I haven’t read this one yet, Fleur, but look forward to it. I loved what you did with the Stanley Hotel in Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. You have a keen sense of setting and atmosphere that adds so much to the fun plot. And, about cake…. Yes. Absolutely!

    Reply
  5. Fleur Bradley

    Thank you so much for the kind words, Michael. It means a lot, especially coming from you. Hope we get to catch up in person again sometime, been too long!

    Reply
  6. Michael A. Black

    Fleur Bradley is talent personified. I enjoy all of her books and short stories and her YA books are so good they appeal to readers of all ages. I’m thrilled to see she has a new one out. I’m going to order it today. Best of luck to you, Fleur.

    Reply

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