Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Q&A with Deb Mercier




Deb Mercier is the author, with Ryan Jacobson, of the new middle grade mystery novel The Ghost of Old Central School, the first in the Detective: You series. She lives in Minnesota.


Q: What inspired you to write The Ghost of Old Central School?


A: This book landed on my desk half-formed, so the initial inspiration was quite literally completing the manuscript. Ryan Jacobson of Lake 7 Creative described the premise of the story, and the Detective: You/Choose Your Path series he envisioned and asked if I’d jump in mid-stride to finish the book.


As I dug into the story, I used a historical school-turned-community center I know well (Central Square in Glenwood, Minnesota) to help me bring Old Central School to life – creepy janitor’s closet, ornate auditorium, scary basement and all.


Q: Can you say more about the creation of this new series?


A: The credit on this one belongs entirely to Ryan. The Detective: You series was his idea, and I’m lucky enough to be along for the adventure! We do collaborate on new book ideas, which is a ton of fun.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: When readers step through the doors of Old Central School, I hope they enter with a sense of adventure. It’s a story filled with twists and turns, which you get to navigate as the main character. Not all your choices will lead to happy places. You’ll gather clues, solve puzzles, interact with other characters, and hopefully solve the mystery. (If you don’t, you can simply have a “do over” and make different choices!)

More than anything, I want kids to have FUN with this book, with this series, and fall in love with the power of reading. If they can learn a thing or two about deductive reasoning along the way, that would be fabulous, too!


Q: How did you first get interested in writing for kids?


A: Reading out loud to my son and daughter got me hooked on good children’s lit. We started with board books, lying on the floor together and exploring the often soggy and bite-marked pages. When they could sit up, we graduated to paper pages; we must have made thousands of trips to the library.


As they got bigger and could pick out their own books, they’d gravitate toward certain books – usually ones with strong characters and some element of humor. Pretty soon we were reading chapter books together, then novels. I basically grew into children’s books along with my own children and found that writing for kids was something I absolutely loved.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am working on book number three in the Detective: You series, The Captured Eagle. (Book number two, The Empty Cabin, will hit the shelves along with The Ghost of Old Central School.) Next up is book number four: The Fortune Teller’s Curse. That should keep me out of trouble for a while!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: The Ghost of Old Central School and The Empty Cabin are available through your local bookseller and online. If you want to check in and see what’s new, stop by debwritesbooks.com or check out @mercier.deb on Instagram. This is a new adventure… I recently took a crash course from my daughter on how to use Instagram. We’ve come a long way since those soggy, bite-marked board books!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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