I recently had the chance to interview Alan Bradley, author of the Flavia de Luce Mysteries.
What inspired you to become a writer?
“Environment. I believe that any child who grows up in a household where books are treasured aspires to some day write one themselves. In my case, it took 69 years of aspiration!”
How did you come up with the character of Flavia de Luce?
“Flavia leaped out of the inkwell, as they say. I can’t take much credit other than providing the fingers and the printer paper.”
Do you have a favorite author? If so, who and why?
“James Joyce is never far from my fingertips. Words at work, words at play. It’s like discovering a plot line in the Oxford English Dictionary.”
What was your favorite book to write? Which was the hardest?
“They’ve all been fun to write, otherwise I wouldn’t have written them. Research can be great fun, as well as gratifying, but at the same time, tough.”
What are some methods you use to research for your novels?
“I have a horrible weakness for old reference works, such as various almanacs from the 1950’s, outdated dictionaries and encyclopedias, books of ancient railway timetables (steady on, Agatha!) and even vintage cookbooks.”
How long does it usually take you to finish writing one of your books?
“Typically, nine to twelve months, although I often realize with a bit of a shock that certain scenes have been brewing away in secret for decades. It’s a weird process!”
Why did you choose to write in the mystery genre?
“I began reading mystery fiction at a very young age, and always thought it would be great fun to invent such a world with its village inhabitants, sleuths, victims, and idiots. And do you know what? It was!”
How do you find inspiration for your novels?
“I read a lot. And then I think a lot. I also laugh a lot.”
What is a typical day of writing like for you?
“I start at 4:30 a.m. and get finished so that I can spend whatever remains of the day feeling all self-righteous.”
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
“(a) Get a pencil.
(b) Sharpen it.
(c) Get some sheets of paper.
(d) Cover them with writing.
(e) Enjoy yourself.
(f) *Secret. Don’t tell anybody: Listen to Mozart.”