This title had me at Midnight and Hotel. Only the most spookiest activities and, dare I say, accidents (s said with a bit of slither) happen in the middle of the night at a hotel.
I’m so excited to share our next middle grade author with you! Fleur Bradley is super talented, has a fond affection for all things Agatha Christie, and has visited the stately Stanley Hotel of the horror film The Shining. #Boo To top all that off, she’s offering up one signed copy of her book! So make sure to scroll to the end to enter the giveaway for your chance to win!
The Book: MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL!
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.
Don’t you just love this cover art with the windows shaped like coffins, the moon illuminating the trio’s shadows, and even a black cat in the background!
Hello Fleur! So happy to welcome you to our crypt. I know readers are excited to meet you. Let’s give them a peek into your middle grade work. What is your favorite part about writing middle grade literature?
I love the honesty of middle-grade: kids who are around twelve years old really see the world clearly, including the (flawed) adults in it. Writing MG is some of the hardest writing I’ve ever done, because your words have to be as honest too—and to the point. The bar is high, as it should be. You better bring you’re A-game in MG!
We know that Agatha Christie is one of your inspirations for writing a murder mystery for MG readers. How is this story like an AC mystery and how is it different?
I grew up reading Agatha Christie books, and wanted to give kids an introduction to that classic murder mystery story. There are colorful characters, a remote mansion, and several guests/suspects who could’ve committed the murder—all ingredients to a Christie novel.
Where I think it’s different is that my kid characters are also doing some ghost hunting. The spooky element gives the book an extra fun element, I think. It certainly was a lot of fun to write.
Give us three words that best describe Midnight at the Barclay Hotel.
Spooky. Murder. Mystery. 😍😍😍
The idea of ghost hunting is popular with lots of young readers. What makes this ghost hunt unique?
The element of the murder mystery adds extra pressure to the ghost hunting—and it sometimes forces the kids to leave the ghost hunting for later. In this case, I would say ghost hunting is a subplot that becomes more important later in the story, as the kids solve the murder mystery.
Share with readers the friendship that develops between your main cast – JJ, Penny and Emma.
At the beginning of the story, JJ really just wants to be left alone to do his ghost hunting. He doesn’t appreciate Emma’s intrusiveness or Penny’s skepticism. As the story goes on and the murder mystery takes center stage, all three kids realize that they have their best ideas when working together. Even if each has a secret they’re trying to keep…
Ooh . . . sneaky secrets!
Do you have a favorite scene in the book?
Oh, there are so many… My favorite is probably where JJ’s secret is finally out, and he has to talk to his mom. It’s a sweet moment—I really wanted to show how they are close, and how a secret can get so big that it takes on a life of its own.
JJ’s mom helps JJ overcome his reading difficulty when he’s young—I had to do the same with my youngest daughter, so this story element is close to my heart.
Is there a message or feeling you hope stays with readers once they’ve read the story?
I hope the book shows that people can change for the better. And especially for kids, I hope it shows that even if it’s hard to tell the truth sometimes, it’s really for the best. JJ ends up carrying a secret around (literally: it’s in his backpack) that wouldn’t have felt so heavy if he’d just told his mom the truth in the beginning.
Such a great life lesson, and so very true.
With the current education challenges facing teachers and parents, how can they encourage middle schoolers to engage in more independent reading and writing?
Anytime—whether it’s during a pandemic or not—I believe choice should be part of reading. If kids can choose what they read, they’ll associate reading with something they have control over and choose to do. It really doesn’t matter what kids are reading, as long as they’re reading.
And parents: try reading yourself if you aren’t! You’re the best example to your kid.
Great advice! Thank you.
A little bit of fun before we end. Inquiring minds want to know:From your personal experience, what middle grade book is a must read?
In mystery, I’d say Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn—it’s such a great book for younger MG readers. And I’m going to cheat and pick two: I really loved The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson recently—such a strong story.
What can your readers expect from you next?
I’m working on a (top secret! Well, at least for now) new middle-grade mystery. This one is spooky and has a great setting, just like Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. So far, it’s a blast to write!
Sounds amazing! Can’t wait to find out more . . . I mean, when you can spill the spooky secret.👻
Here’s what people are saying about the book:
Chris Grabenstein, multi-award winning author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, on Midnight at the Barclay Hotel.
“A madcap mystery that I couldn’t put down!” –Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, New York Times bestselling author of The Book Scavenger series on Midnight at the Barclay Hotel.
“Agatha Christie references abound, and the hotel setting shines. A quirky, kid-friendly introduction to the murder mystery.” –Kirkus Reviews on 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 http://www.ftbradley.com, and on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.
Check out Fleur’s other story contributions HERE.
It’s been such a pleasure speaking with you, Fleur. Thank you for sharing yourself and your latest book with us.
Readers, here’s the Midnight at the Barclay Hotel blog tour schedule if you’d like to follow Fleur along the way:
- Aug. 3rd: Book review at Always in the Middle
- Aug. 11th: An interview at MG Bookvillage
- Aug 14th: Book review at Charlotte’s Library
- Aug. 16th: Guest post: Fleur talks about reaching reluctant readers at Unleashing Readers
- Aug. 17th: Review at Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog
- Aug. 18th: Review and giveaway at MG Mojo
- Aug. 19th.: Interview and giveaway at From the Mixed-Up Files
- Aug. 21st: Book review at Our Thoughts Precisely.
- Aug. 23rd: Interview and giveaway at Spooky MG
- Aug. 24th: Interview at YA Booknerd
Facebook Live Book Launch on Aug. 25th!
- Aug. 25th: Writer’s Digest Author Spotlight
- Sept. 4th : Fleur talks about getting out of your comfort zone on Kirby Larson’s blog
- Sept. 8th: Fleur outlines how to develop a compelling MG concept at Writer’s Digest