First, a bit about Carrie:
Carrie Cross is an avid reader who fell in love with books as a little girl after reading Goodnight Moon. She wrote her first "book" at age four: Blackie the Little Black Dog and the Flying Washing Machine. Carrie discovered her love of mysteries reading Nancy Drew books and The Happy Hollisters series, and while writing Skylar Robbins mysteries, she continues to look for clues in unexpected places to this day.
Why did you choose to write books for Middle Grade?
Some of the happiest memories from my ‘tweens involve cozy nights reading in bed, especially during a rainstorm. Judy Blume is my all time favorite author. I must have read, Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret, fifty times or more. Nancy Drew and The Happy Holisters sparked my interest in mysteries. Zilpha Keatley Snyder was another favorite. How I wished I had a Velvet Room to retreat to, or a Changeling for a best friend!
My first book (never published) was written for an adult audience. While I shopped that, I started the first draft of a Skylar Robbins novel, and I was hooked instantly. I knew this was the age group I was meant to write for: the age I was when I read my favorite Judy Blume books.
What types of books do you like to read?
I still love to read MG and YA: Deb Caletti and Sarah Dessen are two favorites. I also can’t get enough of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, and Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole mysteries. I love biographies of those who lead unusual, superlative, or decadent lives, or books (fiction or non) about people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
Read, read, read. When I’m not writing or reading, I love to cook and go out to eat, especially for sushi, or to graze on small plates. I also own my own business distributing clothing wholesale, so I’m super busy. But if I have free time or take a vacation, you’ll find me on a boat or at a tropical beach.
Tell us about Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels and how the story came to be.
Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels is the second novel in the Skylar Robbins mystery series, and it just won the LASR Readers’ Choice Award for January 2015!
When I was six years old, my parents decided we needed to buy a bigger house. We looked at a creepy two-story in Santa Monica Canyon, and I played hide-and-seek with the little girl who lived there. There were closets and secret hiding places with doors that opened into other rooms. Later, I wondered, “What if there was a clue hidden in one of those closets?” And the idea for the Skylar Robbins mystery series was born, starting with The Mystery of Shadow Hills.
Here's a peek at The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels:
After solving The Mystery of Shadow Hills, thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is ready for a new adventure. Sure enough, as soon as she decides to start her own detective agency a thrilling case falls right into her hands.
A deserted mansion perches on a steep hillside, overlooking a rocky canyon. Tattered curtains hang behind broken windows, and a turret stretches toward the sky. Three years ago the owner disappeared suddenly, leaving behind a house full of secrets: A mysterious note, tantalizing clues, a hidden floor, one piece of a treasure map, and a missing fortune in diamonds.
Armed with her detective kit, and with the support of her BFF Alexa and a team of secret agents, Skylar embarks on a new and dangerous mission. Can she outwit a gang of aggressive bikers and find the hidden jewels before they do? Or will the perils of middle school--like battling ruthless bully Emelyn Peters--get in her way?
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
Skylar’s adventures began in The Mystery of Shadow Hills. Thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is horrified to learn that she'll be stuck at her bullying cousin Gwendolyn's creepy mansion for the summer. She has no idea how much excitement and danger awaits her in Malibu’s Shadow Hills.
As soon as Skylar arrives at the estate, unexplainable events begin to happen. She discovers a hidden garden in the huge back yard, and her new friend Kat pronounces it the perfect place to perform spells. Practical Skylar is skeptical, until the magic appears to start working.
Is Kat a real middle school witch and a true friend, or is she just interested in the cute stable boy? Did she use magic to control Skylar’s body, or was it all part of a complicated hoax? Who or what is making those terrifying noises up in Shadow Hills at night?
Rumors are flying and the locals are afraid. Kat challenges Skylar to take increasingly dangerous risks while she tries to solve the mystery. Armed with her detective tools, brains, and a huge dose of courage, Skylar will face her deepest fears to find the truth.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
Yes! At the end of Hidden Jewels, Skylar discovers a new and confusing clue, written in code. If she can manage to decode it, the note promises to lead her to a hidden diary containing the next clues to the whereabouts of a famous heiress who has been missing for three years. Skylar vows to crack that code and find out what happened to her. She does this in book 3: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress, which I hope to publish by the end of 2015.
What advice do you have for other authors?
This advice comes from one of my blog posts, “Carrie Cross’s Advice to Aspiring Writers #1”:
Enjoy the writing process and revise, revise, revise. Get as many people as possible to read your manuscript and give you constructive criticism. Don’t just rely on family and friends for feedback. They love you and will tell you your book is great, even if it isn’t.
Find beta readers in your target age group who you don’t know personally. For instance, I asked my account base at work if they had children who would be willing to read my book, Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills, before publication, and emailed the manuscript to those kids. Their feedback was invaluable.
Finally, don’t let rejections from agents deter you from getting published. Self-publish if you don’t get a contract; you’re going to do most of your own marketing anyway. Calvin Coolidge said it best: Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!
Anything else you want readers to know?
On my website: www.carrie-cross.com, there are free games, interactive sleuthing, and lots of other fun things going on!
Where can readers find you and your books?
Please follow me on:
Amazon author page
Amazon: Skylar Robbins: Mystery of Shadow Hills
Amazon: Skylar Robbins: Mystery of the Hidden Jewels