Julia Lee

The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth is a tale of daring-do, mystery and danger.

When orphaned Clemency Wrigglesworth, newly arrived on a ship from India, is abducted and forced to work as a servant, her friends the Marvels set out to rescue her - but she is in greater danger than anyone realises! Can the Marvels reach Clemency in time to save her? Or can Clemency herself get herself out of this fix!

Author Julia Lee tells us more about The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth.

Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

A: During my career, I have fallen into various jobs, but I was always writing. I have written since my childhood.

Q: You have written for adults before but what made you want to write for children?

A: It was the name 'Gully Potchard' which popped into my head one day. When I am writing, I often get the name of my characters first and I let that person start to tell me about themselves. After Gully, I got the name Clemency Wrigglesworth and the sense that she didn't like people whispering about her and I wondered why, so I started to write her story.

Q: Was this book influenced by books you read as a child?

A: When I started to write this, I did think about the kinds of books I liked reading as a child. I enjoyed everything from rubbish to classics but the ones that stick out and stay with you are the classics like A Little Princess, which I adored. I re-read it last month. I also loved The Secret Garden, but I found that harder to re-read.

I also remembered loving stories where there was a mystery around someone's identity, so I decided to write my own mystery story. In my book you have an unaccompanied orphan getting onto a ship, so the novel had to be set at a time when that might happen, when children would be sent off to sea on their own or with a chaperone, so it's set around the late Victorian times, although to me it also feels sort of time-less. I did do a few checks to make sure it was all accurate, although I have done much more research for the second book.

Q: You have a few baddies in the story - who is your favourite?

A: One or two of the characters are quite nasty and eccentric. Ms Clawe (the housekeeper) is a favourite of mine with her tight-lipped manner and cruelty; you can have such fun with the baddies. I didn't have to reign her in and stop her behaving badly! The uncle was also fun, he's selfish and fearful.

Q: How bad do things get for your lead character, Clemency?

A: Her family are mad and bad and they want to get rid of her and I had to think quite hard about why they wanted her out of the way,but I have never enjoyed reading books that are just grim, so while it's dark in places, there's also a lot of fun and action.

Q: Would you liked to have lived in the past?

A: I do love visiting old castles and trying to imagine what it must have been to live in them. I think if it was the Victorian times I would have loved to have had a kitchen garden run by a fleet of gardeners and garden boys, so I would have been involved with the gardening side of things, but I would still want my creature comforts - and Penicillin!

Q: Is the country house in the story based on a real country house?

A: No, it's one I made up, but that is something I love doing. I could start every story I write with a fabulous description of a house. As a child I loved drawing floor plans of houses and maps of their gardens. I adore inventing houses of any sort.

Q: What are you writing next?

A: The next book is about one of the characters in this story, Gully Potchard, but it is a prequel so it is set nine months in advance of this story. It is about how Gully Potchard discovers his psychic powers.

Q: Where do you do your writing?

A: I have a lovely study overlooking the garden, although I have had to move my desk to face the inner wall rather than the window - otherwise I end up looking at birds and plants all day, it's such a distraction. I have a 'mood board' in my study where I pin lots of pictures and references for the book I'm writing a the time.

I don't have a routine, I'm not a disciplined writer, but when I am writing the last third of a book I do put in the hours and write into the night and at the weekends. Mornings are not my best writing time though, I write better in the afternoons and evenings.

Q: What are your suggestions for budding writers?

A: I'm in the school of make-it-up. Quite often people are advised to write what they know about but I think it's much better to make it up, have fun, go off somewhere and write about someone's life that isn't yours. So make it up, and read, read, read all sorts of things. And enjoy it!
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