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What inspired you to write the Double Vision series?
I really wanted to write a book for that regular kid: the boy (or girl) who may not be a sports all-star or academic genius—maybe even a troublemaker. Linc Baker, the main character in the Double Vision books, is just that type of kid. He learns to use his instincts (and willingness to take risks, even if he gets into trouble…) to go on dangerous spy missions.
I love writing from Linc’s perspective. He’s so fun—and it’s like he’s telling me the story when I sit down to write.
How long did it take you to write Double Vision: Code Name 711? Which book in the series took the longest to write?
It took me about three months to get the first draft down, then it took about three to four months editing—it’s about the same for all three books. The first book probably took the longest, since I worked with my editors at Harper to refine the series concept.
I’ve really come to enjoy the editing. Every time I think the story is at its best, the next draft makes it even better. I feel privileged to work with such great people at Harper Children’s.
What was your inspiration for the characters Linc and Henry?
For Linc, it really was that vision of the funny troublemaker with a big heart that got me started. I had a good idea of who he was, but it wasn’t until I started to develop his parents and grandfather (who lives at their house) that his voice really came to life. At his core, Linc is a great kid who really loves his family, despite his crazy antics…
Henry is that geeky kid who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s super-smart and kind of sweet, but lacks Linc’s street smarts, which is why I think they’re the perfect team.
I’m inspired by my own kids (I have two daughters ages 11 and 13), and by the kids I meet when I do school visits. Middle-graders are such creative, funny and positive kids.
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?
I loved anything by Roald Dahl when I was young. It seemed like anything was possible in his books. I’m still a Pippi Longstocking fan—when I was little, I would sleep upside-down in bed, like she does. I think it’s a redhead thing…
I think I love writing kids for the same reason I loved those books: anything is possible, with a little imagination and some guts. Plus, spy gadgets come in handy if you’re going on a mission.
If you could live anyplace real or fictional, where would it be? Why?
I would love to live in Pippi Longstocking’s house! I guess I’m still a bit of a kid at heart… I’m a big animal nut (and a bit of a catlady—I have four cats), so I would love to live anywhere animals roam free.
Otherwise, I have a bit of a crush on California: great food, weather, and people.
If you could befriend a character from one of your books, who would you befriend? Why?
Ohhh, that’s a tough choice… Linc would get me into trouble too much, so I think I would opt for Henry. I would have gadgets for everything, which would come in handy…
The first two books in the series take place in very different places (Paris and Washington D.C.). Do you use settings that you’re familiar with or do you visit the places that you’re writing about in order to incorporate them accurately in your books?
I’ve been to Paris a few times, so that helped—it’s good to know the ‘flavor’ of a certain place: the way it feels when you’re there. But when it was time to write the book, I still had to do a ton of research to get the details right. Thank goodness for the internet!
I have to confess I’ve never been to Washington, D.C…. But as a military spouse, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life around government-run places, so I had a good idea of what the city was about. After that, I did lots and lots of research.
The biggest compliments I get is from Parisians and D.C. area locals, when they tell me I got all the locations right. That means so much.
Henry creates some amazing spy tools and equipment. Is there a spy gadget you would like to get your hands on?
Hmmm… Maybe a snack generator, so you always have something to eat when you’re on a mission. Food is important.
Or some shoes that make you run double-fast when you’re trying to outrun a bad guy. I’m not very athletic, so that would help…
Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I just finished work on Linc’s third (and final) adventure, entitled Double Vision: The Alias Men—it was hard to say goodbye to Linc, I have to say. I’m now developing some new middle-grade and YA ideas, so stay tuned…!