Any fans of the movie Clue out there? You gotta love a good whodunnit. I enjoyed reading the ARC of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley and got a chance to interview the author. Keep reading to find out how to win a free copy of the book!
Thank you for sharing Midnight at the Barclay Hotel with me. It was such a fun whodunit. Can you give us a short summary about the book?
Of course! Here’s the description on the cover:
Hunting ghosts and solving the case before checkout? All in a weekend’s work.
When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he’d find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner’s death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary.
Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother’s name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.
When does the book come out?
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is out on…Aug. 25th! I’m so excited. There will be lots of cake—be it the virtual kind.
You mention in your Author’s Note how you enjoy mysteries. What mysteries did you read growing up?
When I was a kid, I read like crazy. By the time I was twelve or so, I’d read most of the books in the children’s section. There was no YA department at the time (yes, I’m that old), so I moved to the books for grown-ups. A kind librarian pointed me toward the Agatha Christie section; I read The ABC Murders, and I’ve been hooked on mysteries ever since. I love a good puzzle.
You have a wonderful cast of characters in the book. Who was your favorite to write? Who are you most like and why?
They were all so fun to write! I set out to make every character a little bit larger than life, to keep a sense of humor about the murder mystery.
The kid characters were very fun to write too. JJ is really into ghost hunting; as a kid I remember being so super excited about something that it’s all you can think about. Emma was fun to write, since she’s so eager to make friends—I remember feeling that way too when I was twelve.
I’m probably most like Penny: a big reader, a little shy sometimes, and a sceptic when it comes to ghosts and ghost hunting.
How can teachers use this book in their classrooms?
Mysteries are great to use in the classroom: the deductive reasoning, the character profiles, and different perspectives are all useful in analyzing story. Plus, mysteries are very accessible.
I wrote Midnight at the Barclay Hotel as a way to introduce kids to the traditional, Agatha Christie style mystery, with spooky elements (without being scary). Kids and teachers can follow along and see if they can use the clues in the story to figure out who killed Mr. Barclay, and why. The book is structured around the traditional investigative technique of finding motive, means and opportunity for each suspect.
There is a teacher guide on my website, plus extra activities for kids: http://www.ftbradley.com/barclay-hotel.html
I also love doing Zoom (or other platform) visits to talk about mysteries, and my process when writing.
I enjoy asking authors how their book got its shape. What would you say was the spark for Midnight at the Barclay Hotel? What came next? And what components organically fell into place later on?
It really all started with my love for mysteries, and my own spark when reading Agatha Christie. I wanted to write a fun mystery that would get kids excited about mysteries, too.
The character profiles (the suspects!) probably came next, then the outline for the story. I also wanted to have the story take place at an interesting, closed-off setting, one that I could imagine being a fun place for kids to visit—that was when I created the Barclay Hotel.
Did you go anywhere interesting as research for your book?
The Barclay Hotel is inspired by the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado—of the movie The Shining. I went to visit and knew I had to set a story in a place just like it…
My family and I even went on a ghost hunting tour at the Stanley Hotel—that was so much fun. Alas, I didn’t see a ghost, but I did get lots of inspiration.
The Barclay Hotel is a bit more isolated, and has more fun stuff for kids: there a carousel, a bowling alley, a pool, a cupcake shop… I had a lot of fun creating the setting.
What ended up taking more time than you anticipated when researching/writing/revising?
The original manuscript was longer and had a lot of chapters written from the perspectives of the adult characters—the suspects. When discussing revisions with my (very smart) editor at Viking, she suggested the book would be better and more accessible for reluctant readers if it was a bit shorter, and if we added illustrations. She was right, of course. Although it was hard to cut those chapters, the story is so much better for it. And I love the illustrations!
I have to ask: do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen a ghost?
I’ve never seen a ghost, though I’ve heard voices I can’t explain… I’m probably more of a sceptic, like Penny in the book, but I’m open to the possibility.
How can we learn more about you?
My website www.ftbradley.com has more about my books, author visits, and a page just for Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, with kid activities and an educator guide. I’m on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor, and post on Instagram as fleurbradley.
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is available here:
If you’re an educator, librarian, or parent, send her an email and let her know what you think of the book!
Fleur Bradley will be giving a copy of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel to a lucky reader. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy.
Congrats to Danielle H.!
*This giveaway is only available in the United States.
Fleur Bradley is the author of many middle-grade books aimed at reluctant readers, including the (spooky) mystery Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. Fleur is passionate about two things: mysteries and getting kids to read, and she regularly speaks at librarian and educator conferences on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, Fleur now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two daughters, and entirely too many cats.
For more information on Fleur and her books, visit www.ftbradley.com, and on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.