21 | A Chat With Robin Stevens
Listen to Episode 21: A Chat With Robin Stevens
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In today's episode, I'm joined by the lovely Robin Stevens, to discuss her wonderful children's book series, Murder Most Unladylike, which are hugely popular with children and adults alike. A delightful mix of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton, the Murder Most Unladylike books are set in the 1930s and tell the story of two boarding school girls, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, who discover they have a remarkable knack for solving crime. The girls set up their own secret Detective Society and prove how capable they are at outwitting the adults around them, triumphantly solving case after baffling case.
Born in California, before moving to Oxford and attending Cheltenham Ladies' College, Robin shares how her own background and school life influence her writing. We talk about Robin's favourite Golden Age mystery writers, such as Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey, as well as her research process in recreating 1930s England and - for her next book - Hong Kong. I also questioned Robin on her most recently published book, Cream Buns and Crime, which has only just been released, and is a charming series companion to the Murder Most Unladylike novels. Robin explains how Cream Buns and Crime gave her an opportunity to broaden the reader's experience of Daisy and Hazel's world, and why 'Bun Break' is so important to her characters (lots of tasty sounding recipes feature in the new book!).
I was curious, too, to learn more about how the first Murder Most Unladylike book began as a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, when Robin finished the first draft within a month to successfully complete the challenge. It was interesting to hear Robin's perspective on the benefits of taking part in NaNoWriMo, as well as how she managed to subsequently procure an agent and publisher for her book.
Listen for a fascinating discussion on Robin Stevens' writing process and inspiration.
- 00:24 - Miranda introduces Robin Stevens.
- 01:49 - Robin describes her childhood passion for writing and how she moved from California to Oxford when young.
- 03:37 - How Robin first developed her love for detective fiction.
- 04:21 - Some of Robin's favourite crime novelists.
- 06:16 - Robin's experience of NaNoWriMo and how she went from completing the writing challenge to getting her first book published.
- 10:46 - Miranda questions Robin on her research process.
- 12:49 - Robin discusses the importance of having a diverse range of female protagonists.
- 15:41 - How Cheltenham Ladies' College inspired the fictional Deepdean.
- 17:56 - All about Cream Buns and Crime.
- 19:44 - The importance of Bun Break!
- 20:59 - Robin attempts to decide which of her books she likes the best so far (an impossible decision, as they're all excellent!).
- 21:50 - How Robin interacts with her fans, and her thoughts on the importance of social media to authors today.
- 26:10 - Robin's daily writing routine.
- 27:23 - Robin shares her exciting upcoming future projects.
- Robins Stevens' website.
- Murder Most Unladylike books by Robin Stevens.
- Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens.
- Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Josephine Tey.
- Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey.
- Cheltenham Ladies' College.
- The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.
- A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.
- The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens (published August 2017).
- Follow Robin on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Youtube.
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My books are murder mysteries, but I want them to be cosy and comforting, as well as frightening. I want to have that balance, like Agatha Christie.
- Robin Stevens
Thank you so much for listening and being a part of Tea & Tattle podcast. As always, we love to hear your thoughts, so please let us know:
What did you like most about this episode? Are you a fan of the Murder Most Unladylike books, or are you keen to try one now? Which are your favourite 'Golden Age' crime writers?
Tune in again next Tuesday, as I'm hosting a special episode of Tea & Tattle. Not only is Sophie back on the podcast, but we're also joined by the author and scholar Janet Todd, as well as the author Diana Birchall, to discuss our shared passion for Jane Austen. Janet and Diana are both experts on Austen and her world, and they had so many fascinating things to say about our favourite novelist, so be sure to listen next week.