Ask the Author: Beth McMullen
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m an avid reader but also love going on adventures. This might be hiking up a mountain or traveling to a place hard to find on the map. Being outside my comfort zone wakes up my senses and really makes me feel like every moment counts.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
The Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls trilogy is about Abby Hunter, age 12, who ends up in boarding school only to discover the school is a secret training facility for young spies. When her mother disappears, it’s up to Abby to use her not-very-fine-tuned skills to find her. There’s a lot of humor, action and friendship, plus sinister bad guys and twists and turns aplenty to keep the pages turning!
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I went to boarding school as a kid and always thought it would make a great setting for a book. The idea that seven or eight hundred teenagers live together with minimal adult supervision is kind of crazy to begin with. I tried to use the setting for an adult thriller but that didn’t work and neither did my attempt to use it to write YA. It wasn’t until I figured out to make Abby twelve that it really came together.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
The series has three books and while I loved writing each one, the first one has a special place in my heart. I’m a sucker for a good origin story (Iron Man, Frozen, Wonder Woman, etc) so I especially loved creating Abby’s world and backstory.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Oh wow – this is a long list. I loved The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as a kid. I was reading Stephen King novels when I was pretty young and his early work just has the most amazing pacing. It’s breathtaking. I’m still inspired by books that I read today that make me want to keep getting better. I just finished Neil Shusterman’s Scythe series and am still reeling.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
It is very easy to talk yourself out of daunting project like writing an entire book. Instead, I always tell people to think about micro-goals. For example, decide to write 200 words a day for a week. See how that goes. If you are successful, maybe up it to 300 or just stay at 200 until you feel motivated to do more. The most important thing is to put something on the page. It is the only way.
Beth McMullen is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls (Aladdin/S&S) series as well as the forthcoming Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter (Aladdin/S&S) series, in stores and everywhere August 25th. Her third middle-grade series, Cats & Dragons, arrives in March 2021.
You can reach her on FaceBook/Instagram @BethMcMullenBooks and on Twitter at @bvam. Visit BethMcMullenBooks.com to email or for more information.
Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls trilogy – Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B07CZ2PT8Y/ref=dp_st_1481490265
Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter – Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1534456694/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i6
Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls trilogy – IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=author%3AMcMullen%2C%20Beth
Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter – IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781534456693