Author Robin Stevens knows just the right ingredients to whip up a gripping murder mystery novel… Bethany Park investigates.
Introduced as “The Queen of Children’s Crime Novels”, Robin Stevens’ Festival talk was full of mysteries, villains, iced-bun breaks and exclusive lessons in how to write your own detective story.
If you haven’t read the books yet, Robin’s Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries series centres around two inquisitive young girls, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, who set up their own secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls.
“I have always read crime novels, but as I grew up I realised that none of the detectives were ever children,” she says. “None of the characters were people I wanted to hang out with or be friends with. Time went on, I left university and I sat down and thought about creating a detective story based on children. That was when I invented Hazel and Daisy.”
After reading out a gripping section from her most recent book in the series, Jolly Foul Play, Robin let the eager audience in on how to create their very own detective novels.
“I actually think that crime is one of the easiest genres to write about,” says Robin. “There are certain things that have to happen in every crime novel. All you have to do is build your plot on those things.”
So, what’s the DNA of a page-turning detective novel? According to Robin you will need…
A Victim: Everyone knows that you need a victim for any great detective novel.
A Detective: The character who will end up solving the mystery.
The Crime: You need something to solve!
Red herring: Think of a twist that could slightly mislead your readers. This ensures the readers won’t guess the ending straight away.
Clues: Leave some clues at the crime scene to help the characters crack the case.
Suspects: You have to have suspects that aren’t the murderer. This will keep the readers guessing.
An Alibi: Every innocent suspect will need an alibi!
To take a look inside The Detective Society’s Top-Secret Files, plus more mystery and mayhem from Robin, visit robin-stevens.co.uk.