Going undercover
5th Jan 21

Going undercover

Join super spy Mark Anchovy (Colin in the real world) who is on a school exchange with a difference... escaping criminal masterminds, hunting a missing jewelled eggcup and doing whatever it takes to avoid a very cross teacher!

We asked WILLIAM GOLDSMITH to tell us more about his action-packed mystery adventure, WAR & PIZZA!

Q: What is War & Pizza about - in one sentence please?

A: Colin Kingsley, AKA Mark Anchovy pizza detective, flies to Russia on a school exchange programme to track down some missing jewelled egg cups.

Q: What is the GSL?

A: It stands for The Golden Spatula League - a detective agency for children who have some link to the catering industry. You need a special skill to join - like impersonation, or forgery, or lock-picking. Colin has a photographic memory.

The GSL was founded in 1867 and now has branches across the world. But don't contact them, they will contact you.

Q: Why did you decide to make your detectives 'foodies'?

I sometimes wonder... it's a heavy workload for them to solve crimes and prepare/deliver food. But nobody pays much attention to a waiter or a chef, so they can be stealthy and learn secret information from shady customers. (If they're slick enough.)

Q: Why did you decide to give the GSL a case to solve in Russia? Have you visited?

A: I lived in Moscow for a few years and thought it would be a good location to feature in the story. I also wanted it to make it very different and harder for Colin than the first book, Mark Anchovy: Pizza Detective.

In that book, he is in hot, sticky Rome on a school trip in the summer. In Mark Anchovy: War and Pizza, he's visiting Russia in the winter, so he's going to get cold. Very cold. But he'll make some friends there.

Q: If any of us decide to visit, what should be on our 'to do' list?

A: You could visit the museum of Soviet arcade machines where you can play lots of old arcade games, or the Space Museum, where you can learn about the first dog in space and go inside one of the early space pods. I can't remember if they have gravity boots or not...

Q: These stories are action-packed - do you need to plan carefully, or do you just jump right in?

A: I make a rough plan, then jump right in and write until the end. I will maybe know the key locations or the most dramatic moments beforehand, and I will try to work out how to connect those moments as I'm writing. But I have to make lots of changes afterwards.

Q: Your characters get into lots of scrapes - do you ever struggle to get them out?

A: Yes, all the time. But if it's hard to get out of the scrape I tell myself it's good for developing the character, as it is testing their limits.

Colin is getting pretty tested - but he is also rising up the ranks as a detective in the Golden Spatula League.

Q: What's your favourite moment in this story?

A: Probably a long train journey which doesn't go according to plan. Colin travels from St Petersburg to Moscow in the dead of night and has to hide from some pretty nasty passengers. As well as his crusty history teacher, Mr Hogstein.

Q: Colin gets a range of gadgets to 'play' with; which one would you take home if you could?

A: Maybe the simple ones, like the mini edible notebook, which is custard-cream flavoured. He has an edible mini pencil too. And a mini-Russian phrasebook. But this isn't edible.

Q: Where will the GSL be taking Mark Anchovy for his next case?

A: He will be travelling to Japan to find a missing gameshow host. He will also have to mentor a new, badly behaved apprentice ... his sister!

Q: Where's your favourite place to write - and what's your 'go to' writing snack?

A: I like working in libraries because I see other people reading and writing and that makes me not want to get distracted. In fact, I wrote this book in one of the largest, grandest libraries in the world, the Russian State Library in Moscow. It even features in the story. It was a perfect place to work - except you're not allowed snacks in there...

Q: What's your favourite escape from writing?

A: Writing is a very quiet process so it's important for me to get out and see my friends and people who make me laugh. Laughing is very healthy for you. I also like swimming.

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