Kristen Kittcher: Tiara on the Terrace Q&A

Today, we’re delighted to be hosting an exclusive Q&A with Tiara on the Terrace author Kristen Kittcher. Thanks for stopping by, Kristen! Be sure to keep reading for more about her latest book!

tiara on the terraceWhat inspired the latest mystery in TIARA ON THE TERRACE?

I’m a longtime resident of Pasadena, California — home of what you know as the Rose Parade – and what locals don’t dare call anything else but “the Tournament of Roses.” Each year our town goes positively bonkers preparing for our moment in the (literal) sun: students from all over the area sign up to decorate the many floats. High school seniors converge on grounds of a stately mansion to try out for a spot in the Royal Court, essentially a beauty contest the town refuses to acknowledge is a beauty contest.

From years of watching my students fill with excitement, I knew the parade would make a great setting for a middle school adventure. It’s a larger-than-life backdrop for a mystery, but it also offers the perfect environment to explore the tensions inherent in navigating the tween social world. I wanted to create a Miss Congeniality set in middle school – and I think I did.

Did you have any favorite kid/teen sleuths growing up? What mysteries did you read when you were younger?

Encyclopedia Brown was always a fave – as were, of course, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. At a very young age I started reading mysteries for adults, so Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot soon eclipsed them to become my absolute favorite!

As far as favorite mysteries, I don’t know if they quite qualify as mysteries, but John Bellairs’ wonderfully creepy books blew my mind as a kid. I was also a huge fan of From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

kristen kittcher2What’s the biggest challenge of writing mysteries? The biggest reward?

The biggest challenge is creating a “crime” (if there is a crime) clever enough to really dupe your reader while at the same time present every clue right out in the open. In the case of the Young & Yang books, which aren’t straight mysteries, it’s incredible difficult to balance the friendship stories and character development with the the need for fast-pased mystery-solving adventure and tension.

The biggest reward is suprising your readers – or making them feel clever if they guess the culprit!


Favorite Halloween candy?


Favorite villain?

Hannibal Lecter

Pen or pencil?


Favorite piece of clothing?

Black sweater

Song you can’t get out of your head right now?

Depeche Mode’s “Shout,” which by the way, you can sing to instantly get any song out of your head. The only downside? It replaces it with Depeche Mode’s “Shout.”

5 things that are always in your purse:

Undercover operatives like me are forbidden from revealing such information, but you can be rest assured I always have a spy pen on me – and you can get your own when you buy The Tiara on the Terrace from Once Upon A Time Bookstore in Montrose, CA.

(They’d arrest me for bribery if I weren’t good at going undercover!)


Inspired by the Tournament of Roses, get ready for parades, pageantry, suspense, and a hefty dose of hilarity as 7th grade spies Sophie Young and Grace Yang trade their high tops for high heels to investigate a deadly crime in this clever Miss Congeniality set in middle school! When the director of the Winter Sun Festival meets an untimely end, it’s up to our favorite savvy, wise-cracking sleuths to solve the case–before they become its next victims. Back by popular demand, this funny, fast-paced follow up to Kittscher’s acclaimed debut will thrill fans of the funny, clever humor and suspense in Pseudonymous Bosch and Gordon Korman’s books.


It’s no mystery why her middle grade debut, The Wig in the Window, was an Indie Bestseller, celebrated by School Library Journal (starred review), Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly, and was named to ten Best of Year lists, including “Best Books of the Year” by A Mighty Girl. Kristen is a graduate of Brown University, self-proclaimed “childhood spy,” and former 7th grade English teacher who wrote the book with her former students in mind. Kristen lives in Pasadena.

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