Sue Fliess is the author of the new children's picture book Beatrice Bly's Rules for Spies: The Missing Hamster. Her many other books include Goldilocks and the Three Engineers. She lives in Northern Virginia.
Q: What inspired you to write Beatrice Bly's Rules for Spies?
A: I loved spying as a kid. My older sister and I used to spy on our parents, and I sometimes spied on my sister with her friends. So maybe spying is in my blood.
I had written a seed of a kid spy book about eight or nine years ago. More of an outline, really. But I just couldn't find that magic to make it sing, so I never finished it.
So when an amazing editor whom I'd worked with in the past (Bethany Buck!) moved to a new publishing house and asked if I had any series ideas, I didn't hesitate to go through my idea file on my computer and see if I had anything that could work. And Beatrice Bly popped out and said hello!
Q: What are some of your (other) favorite spy books?
A: Of course, there's Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy, and I also love the Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. That is more detective-focused, but spies and detectives often do similar work.
Q: What do you think Beth Mills's illustrations add to the book?
A: At the risk of throwing myself under my own bus, EVERYTHING. She did an absolutely amazing job of bringing Beatrice to life.
I remember seeing the sketches for possible Beatrices and loving them all! I knew we couldn't go wrong, and Beth brought the story to life with these adorable characters in a way I could never have dreamed.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: First, I hope it makes them laugh and root for Beatrice. Second, that it's important to be truthful or to find out the truth. Because the truth will come out eventually. And maybe also that sometimes, things aren't what they seem at first.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Lots! I just wrapped up the second Beatrice Bly book...and I can't wait to talk about it! Also working on revisions for my Kid Scientist series--an astronaut book, and I have an entomologist book for that series that I'm writing this summer as well.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I have two books publishing this September, How to Hide a Turkey and I'm a Figure Skater!. I hope you'll check them out. Also, I'm already starting to book school visits for the fall - in person (and virtual). I can't wait to get back into schools and get students excited about reading and writing.
Thanks for hosting me!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Sue Fliess.