Robin Stevens

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Countdown with ...

Robin Stevens

Here are ten absolutely true things about me:
1. I am a woman. I really am! I do get a lot of letters addressed to ‘Mr Stevens’, though.
2. I have a pet bearded dragon named Watson, and she is a girl too.
3. I was born in California, and I moved to England when I was three. This means that I have two passports (like a spy), and that I could be the President of the USA and the Prime Minister at the same time if I wanted to be. If this writing thing doesn’t work out, I might consider it.
4. I grew up in Oxford, across the road from Alice in Wonderland. If she hadn’t been Victorian and fictional, I think we could have been friends.
5. When I was little, I wanted to own a zoo and write books about it. I also wanted to be married to Gerald Durrell. I dreamed big.
6. Colin Dexter once sent me a fan letter. I met him when I was 12 and told him that when I grew up I was going to write murder mysteries. I must have been really insistent, because he believed me.
7. I really did go to an English boarding school, Cheltenham Ladies College. And I really did sleep in a dorm, and learn Latin, and have school on Saturday mornings. I never detected a murder, though, which was a bit of a disappointment.
8. I’ve been on University Challenge! I was the Captain of the Warwick University team. We didn’t win, unfortunately, but I did get to meet Jeremy Paxman.
9. When I was at university, I did my MA on crime fiction. So I really do have a degree in murder.
10. I used to work as an editor, helping other authors get their books published, but today I’m lucky enough to be a full-time author!

Interviewed 01 April 2017

Ten words to sum up your working life to date ...

Surprising, exciting, dream come true, fun, mysterious, SO many books!

Nine things you can see from where you're sitting ...

I’m answering this in December, and I’m in my living room, so: a Christmas tree, three advent calendars, two full bookcases, a paper chain, a mug of coffee and my laptop! That’s a pretty accurate representation of my life right now.

Eight minutes to prepare a meal. What's it going to be ?

Eight minutes?! Scrambled eggs on toast with avocado. I can do that in my sleep (though I probably shouldn’t).

Seven people you'd like to go for a drink with ...

Do I get dead people as well as alive ones? If so, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, Fred Vargas, Gerald Durrell, Nadiya Hussein and Sue Perkins. Not all together, probably, that would be confusing.

Six things you can't live without ...

My laptop (cliché, but that’s how I write, so I really can’t), my library (I think we’ve got over 1000 books, so I’m not exaggerating), (while I’m on tour I pretty much live on trains), my phone (I work at home, so if I didn’t have a way to contact people I’d lose my mind. Plus, podcasts!), the cinnamon buns from Bageriet bakery in Covent Garden, my editorial team and my family (I’m counting them all as one thing, because there’s no way I could have this many books out, or any books out at all, without their support).

Five favourite words ...

Refurbish, deciduous, deduction, satin, Martello

Four places you'd run away to ...

San Francisco (I was born in California, it feels like home), Venice, Edinburgh, Hawaii.

Three books you've bought recently ...

This should have been the ‘ten’ question! I’ve been shopping for Christmas presents, so: I bought Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent for my mum, We Found a Hat for my husband (it’s a picture book – we’re both a bit obsessed with Jon Klassen, and I’m convinced that I Want My Hat Back is one of the darkest murder mysteries ever written for children), and The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan for my grandma.

Two things that make you rant ...

Adults assuming that a children’s book is either for girls or boys. They’re books! Anyone can read them – and it’s very good for kids to read about people who aren’t like them. And people making movies (especially movies adapted from books) where a non-white character magically becomes white. I just won’t go see it.

One thing you'd tell your teenage self ...

Dear 16-year-old Robin, do not worry that the stories you keep coming up with are not serious and Booker-winning. Do not worry that you want to write books for children, and your favourite things are murder mysteries. You are allowed to write whatever you want, and you should write whatever you want, because one day you are going to create a murder mystery series about kids which so many people will read that writing will become your job. Surprise!