Kathryn Miller Haines is an actor, mystery writer, and award-winning playwright. In addition to writing the Rosie Winter series for HarperCollins, she's also writes a mystery series for young adults also set during World War II for Roaring Brook Press. The first book in the series, The Girl is Murder, is about 15 year old Iris Anderson whose life is turned up side down when her mother kills herself and her father returns injured from Pearl Harbor. She also blogs about World War II and pop culture at www.thegirlis.blogspot.com
Here's a brief Q&A with Kathryn about why she decided to write a young adult novel:
This is your first mystery for young adults, after penning several of popular mysteries for adults in your Rosie Winter series. What made you decide to write for this new audience?
I love reading YA books and, as when I first tried my hand at mysteries, I wanted to see if I could write one for myself. I also felt like there was a whole world of World War II that hadn’t been explored very much – what was the war like from the perspective of teenagers? In fact there’s a great non-fiction book called Teenage that talks about adolescence through history that really got me buzzing about what life was like then.
What were some of the mysteries you enjoyed reading when you were young? I’m assuming Nancy Drew, due to the mention in the book, but I’d love to hear a few of your early faves.
Absolutely loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Truth told, though, I didn’t read a lot of mysteries as a young ‘un. I was a big Judy Blume fan (particularly Blubber, a book that has stayed with me all these years). Bridge to Terabithia will still make me cry. And I never met a Lois Duncan book I didn’t tear through (though I guess those kind of are mysteries/thrillers).
What kind of research did you do to create an authentic early 1940s-New York City setting? Was there any difference in your research process for a young readers title compared to your work for adult titles?
I read a lot of great non-fiction books about the war, went through contemporary to the war issues of newspapers, magazines, comic books; listened to music and radio shows; looked at fashion; watched movies – pretty much surrounded myself with the kind of pop culture that I would’ve probably been into had I lived during that time.
With the adult mysteries, I think readers are looking for the nitty gritty details about the period whereas I don’t think YA readers have the patience for a four page info dump on the history of air conditioning. It was freeing in some ways because I didn’t have to be as specific and heavy handed with creating my world. I felt like I could create a flavor of the period without having to drown each scene in period detail. It became a lot more about experiencing the world through the character for me.