My story, "Train of Clues", which placed second on a fan mystery contest with Armchair Interviews for the coming of Silence of the Loons was my inspiration to develop this series. I realized a few years ago when I flew to New Jersey for job training that kids aren't learning geography in school any more. My daughter assumed New Jersey was west of us and only one or two states over; she had no idea where other states were in relation to South Carolina. I took the original story and sent it to an editor with the SCBWI, not for editing but for advice to make it a series with the states being the mystery destination or the mystery. She sent me back some advice and I kind of just let it sit on the back burner for a couple of years. I had to figure out how to do it as a series.
How did you approach 4RV Publishing about the potential of publishing a series? Not many publishers would consider such a lengthy commitment.
In 2007, there was a call for submission for 5-minute mysteries. I contacted them and they were excited about having something like this but I couldn't make the stories work for what they wanted. I met up with Aidana [Willowraven] about that time and we kind of talked about it. She became my agent and then she got me with one publisher and things started going south rather quickly. She and Vivian [Zabel, publisher at 4RV] had been working on some other projects and she talked to Vivian about my series and it was a matter of time to get out of one contract and into another. Vivian believes in the series because she is a retired school teacher.
What can you tell me about State of Reservations?
State of Reservations is the third in the series. I can't really reveal much and if I tell you what clues are represented on the cover, I think you would know which state it is, and we don't want to give away the state. This one involves Jolene (the girl that both boys like) and Matt, the owner of the game. I'm trying to vary the characters and keep it interesting as well. I can tell you I'm learning about each of the states and I would like to visit the areas I've been writing about.
Do you find that the books get easier to write as you go along?
No. Some are easy but some seem to be stumping me. The hardest part is figuring out what info to use as clues, keeping in mind that I'm trying to make the facts fun, educational and interesting for 10-year-olds. Sometimes I have to step back just so I don't start thinking in terms of adult readers.
What is next in the Junior Geography Detective Squad series?
State of Altitude - see my blog http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com/ - for cover. There will be a surprise character in this one. State #5 has clues but is untitled as of yet due to the fact that my friend who comes up with the titles first hasn't been around lately.
Thank you, Elysabeth, for taking the time to answer some questions for my readers!
To contact Elysabeth:
alternate blog (for non-children's blog tours and other things): http://elysabethsstories.blogspot.com/
The entire Junior Geography Detective Squad series can be purchased from http://www.4rvpublishingllc.com/Store-Books.html