Hello everybody! Today, we’re joined by Pip Murphy, who’s written many books, but most recently some younger middle grade mysteries set in Cornwall, for a Christmassy Q and A. Onto the post!
Hi Pip, thank you so much for being here today! To start us off, can you describe the Christie and Agatha series for us in 5 words?
Quirky, fun 1920s kids’ mysteries!
2. Since this is a Christmassy Q and A, I thought it would be fun to start off with some Christmassy questions. First of all, how do you think your characters would spend Christmas? What sort of presents do you think they’d like to receive?
As a budding writer and bookworm, Agatha is always over the moon to get stationery and novels. Christie, on the other hand, prefers non-fiction books with lots of exciting and inspiring diagrams, but she wouldn’t say no to a dramatic spy story or a gadget or two, either!
As for how they would spend Christmas, you can find out for yourself by reading or listening to Christmas in Torquay, a free short story, due out this December via Sweet Cherry’s newsletter or pipmurphy.com
3. I know one of my favourite things about Christmas is receiving books as gifts, and also getting the opportunity to read some during the festivities. Do you have any special bookish Christmas memories you’d like to share? Are there any books you’re hoping to unwrap this Christmas day?
We didn’t have a TV in my house until I was 14 and a family friend gave us their old one, so most of my childhood Christmas memories involve curling up with books and hot chocolate — and a notepad, too, of course! As for book presents, I like to be surprised, so that’s one mystery I won’t solve until Christmas day itself.
4. I also noticed on your social media that you live in Tokyo. What are Christmas/winter celebrations like there? And would you ever like to write something set in the city?
I think Japan is getting pretty famous these days for its fried chicken and cream cake Christmas dinner! Christmas is more for couples in Japan, actually — New Year is the time for family get-togethers. Tokyo itself has a lot of nice Christmas trees and illuminations from November until Christmas. I went to check out some of this year’s last week and they look gorgeous. There’s a Harry Potter theme to the illuminations near Tokyo Station this year, so lots of owl shaped decorations about. I’m currently working on a cute comedy webcomic set in Tokyo (available for free on my website), called Assassins Want to Learn English, Too! but I’d love to write more things set in Tokyo in the future.
5. While I haven’t yet read the Christie and Agatha books, I’m assuming from the title that you’re probably a big fan of the mystery genre. What are some your favourite mystery books? Do you have any helpful tips for writing mysteries that you would like to pass onto other writers?
As you guessed, I’m definitely a big fan of Agatha Christie! I prefer traditional armchair style mysteries to gritty ones. With mysteries I tend to go with setting and type of crime first, then the suspects come naturally when I think about the possible motives. Of course, different things work for different people, so if something else works for you, keep doing it!
6. Another writing question, this time one I always like to ask writers when I’m lucky enough to do an interview, is what is your writing routine like? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks?
I usually brainstorm in a notepad first, making lots of colourful spider diagrams. After I’ve got the plot, setting and characters sorted out, I write a basic bullet point outline, then break it down into individual chapters. After that, I start writing. I usually type but like Agatha I carry a notebook around with me to jot down any ideas, scenes or dialogue that come to me when I’m out and about.
7. Finally, before a few quickfire questions, can you give us any hints about what you’re working on at the moment/will be releasing next?
At the moment I’m working on polishing my YA fantasy realism adventure series Phoenix Rising. I’m up to Book 5 now with this series! I’m also in the final stages of planning out a more fairytale themed story which I’m very excited about.
And of course, there’s the next Christie and Agatha’s Detective Agency book out in February: Of Mountains and Motors. The twins and their new friend Auguste join a record-breaking attempt to climb Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, by car … but there are those who would rather they didn’t make it to the top at all!
Favourite Christmas film?
Favourite festive food?
Savoury – roast parsnips
Sweet – mince pies (is that cheating?!)
Would you rather go sledging or stay inside in the heat?
I’d be running around outside excitedly with a camera if we actually got even a few centimetres of snow!
Top 3 books of 2021?
That I read this year? That’s difficult but I think:
Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka
Otherside Picnic by Iori Miyazawa
How to be Champion by Sarah Millican
Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of Pip’s books? Are you an Agatha Christie fan? Do you think you’d enjoy Christmas in Tokyo? I’d love to hear in the comments!!