Kim Harrington: Sleuth or Dare Q&A

Today for Middle Grade March, we’re thrilled to be hosting an exclusive Q&A with author Kim Harrington. We’re big fans of her YA books Clarity and the newly-released Perception. But later this year, Kim will be releasing three Middle Grade books, in a new series.

The first book from Sleuth or Dare: Partners in Crime will be in stores May 1st.

What do you think makes a successful middle grade novel?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I loved in a book at that age and paying attention to which books my son wants to read over and over. I think it all comes down to voice and characters that the reader cares about.

Middle grade can be such a murky moniker, lurking somewhere between children’s lit and YA. What do you think defines middle grade?

I think middle grade is defined by both age and content. My MG characters are twelve, not teens. And I tried to develop mysteries for them that were age-appropriate yet also intriguing and complex. Middle grade readers don’t want a simple mystery involving a missing backpack, but they’re probably not up for a serial killer yet, either. 😉

Why write middle grade?

A few reasons. First, because it’s so much fun! I had a great time creating my main characters and the voice of the series. I love combining mystery and humor, and this works very well in middle grade. Also, middle grade readers are so enthusiastic and get so attached to the characters. When they love a book, they LOVE the book and read it again and again. Lastly, on a personal note, my son is a middle grade reader and I wanted to write a book he would love.

Give us your Twitter sales pitch: convince us to read Sleuth or Dare in 140 characters or less!

Hmm…let’s see…

Two smart girls. One big crush. A missing person. And someone who wants the truth to stay secret. Intrigued? #sleuthordare

I even fit in a hashtag!

Nancy Drew vs. Darcy & Norah (the main characters in Sleuth or Dare) … who wins?

Nancy Drew will always win!

Your YA books Clarity and Perception actually have a lot of elements of mystery & sleuthing in them as well. Do you think there could be crossover between your YA and MG readers? Are there other similarities between the series?

I hope so! I’d love for Sleuth or Dare fans to pick up the Clarity books when they’re teens. In addition to the mystery element, my sense of humor can be found in both series.

There’s a good chance Sleuth or Dare will inspire some young readers to solve their own mysteries. Any amateur sleuthing advice you can offer?

Make it a team effort! People have different strengths. Combine what you’re good at with what your friends are good at and you’ve greatly increased your chances of solving your mystery. Norah’s super smart and Darcy’s a technology whiz—together they’re a force to be reckoned with!

What got you into writing mysteries?

Reading them! I’ve always loved mysteries, from the old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books to adult mystery series.

Private concert: who’s playing

Interpol. I love them!

Pizza toppings?

Plain cheese. I’m boring.

Book you can’t stop re-reading?

The only book I’ve read more than twice is Kissing the Beehive by Jonathan Carroll.

Living or dead, who would you like to have dinner with?

I should probably pick someone historical and high-brow, but I’d rather have dinner with someone who would be really fun to talk to. Someone both interesting and funny. I can’t narrow it down so I’ll just say Kristen Bell, Ellen DeGeneres, or Jon Stewart.

Perfect vacation?

Disney World! I’ve been sixteen times and you’d think I’d be sick of it, but no.

Look at your desk right now. Name five things within reach.

My cell, a notebook, pens, a witch voodoo doll a friend gave me, and a ‘nutcase writer’ figurine (complete with straight jacket) from another friend.

Here’s where you can check out Kim:

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