Yesterday saw the start of another research phase, this time on middle grade novels – mystery in particular - and yet again it began with web-surfing.
Actually the internet searching began on Monday because Wednesday is toddler story time at our local library – which incidentally is an excellent way of getting to know what new books are available AND striking up a conversation with the children’s librarians. They’re extremely useful people to know if you intend to write for children (librarians…but children are too!).
A quick search for ‘best children’s mysteries’ returned a lot of results. One site was especially useful as it listed all of the novels nominated for The Edgar Award (in honour of Edgar Allan Poe), an annual prize for the best crime and mystery fiction across all genres.
I also did a search of my local library catalogue. They’re not going to have every award winning book so it seemed logical to start at the end and work my way forward. Any books that looked interesting (yes, I did judge books by their cover!) then made it to a ‘Google Books’ search for star ratings and reader reviews. It didn’t take long to narrow my search down to a few popular and readily available options.
Next was the process of reading with a critical eye. As I’m just starting out I had my notebook – with MG novel features checklist - and pen next to me. A couple of selections were short eight chapter novels. Although I’m hoping to write something double that length they were an excellent way of warming-up and getting to grips with recognising the techniques employed in constructing a MG novel (e.g. split scenes, page breaks, character and scene description etc.).
Last night I started on The Sisters Grimm: The Fairytale Detectives. I didn’t get very far as my daughter was suffering with teething pains, but the first 3 pages were great! I’m totally hooked and can’t wait to get back to it today.
For the uninitiated, the sight of a woman sitting down with a novel (and my ‘handy-dandy’ notebook) and a cup of coffee is hardly suggestive of intense research, but my response would be that reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Consequently I’m going to enjoy every moment of it…especially as my 3 year old will be out with her grandmother for the morning!
Next time: My first book review…hopefully on The Sisters Grimm