Welcome to week two of Mystery May! Each week, we will be interviewing Mystery authors of middle grade and young adult books. Today we are talking with Sherrill Joseph, author of The Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series.
Q: Who are you? What genres do you like to write?
A: I am Sherrill Joseph, a retired literacy teacher and the author of the cozy Middle Grade (ages 9-12) series The Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries. You can find me online at http://sherrilljoseph.com and all over social media. My third book releases on November 9, 2021. The mystery genre is my favorite because I like to see if I can solve the case before the end of the book.
Q: Tell us about your book series The Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries?
A: The Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series is an updated Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys remix. There are two girl and two boy detectives, all aged thirteen. They are smart, respectful, tech-savvy, resourceful teens who value doing good deeds within their community. They take on cases involving serious crimes that have stumped law enforcement. Some of their mysteries, however, are just emerging but take on serious aspects as the case progresses.
I am currently writing Book 4 in the series that, I hope, will eventually contain twenty-six books. Botanic Hill is a charming neighborhood in the fictional resort town of Las Palmitas on the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. The streets on the Hill are named, A-Z, after botanicals, e.g., Nutmeg Street, Eucalyptus Street, Walnut Street, and so on. Some stories happen in the town, but the detectives also travel to solve mysteries.
Q: Who is your favorite character in your book?
A: Aw, gee! I can’t play favorites. They all have part of my DNA, so I love them equally.
Q: Why do you like to write Cozy Mysteries?
A: I love cozy mysteries because they offer readers a safe place to try on problems and work out solutions. There is crime, but minus the gore and dark peril, so squeamish readers won’t be turned off. Instead, readers can focus on the actions of likable, role-model amateur sleuths who want to help right wrongs. There are often intriguing twists and turns in cozies, lots of clues, and a believable solution to wrap things up with a smile.
Q: What is your biggest tip for teen writers?
A: Just write! Get your ideas down. Believe in yourself. It can be scary putting your heart and soul out there for others to see, but do it, anyway. Writing helps build courage and your character. Don’t try to make your writing perfect with the first draft; there will be time for that later.
Q: What do you do to get inspired?
A: I read other mysteries, watch movies, take walks with my dog, and observe what‘s going on around myself for idea gems.
Q: What is your favorite thing about writing?
A: I love escaping into a world of my own creation, on my own terms. Time flies when I write because I leave this planet and enter some other space. Once I have a product, I jet back to Earth and feel so fortunate to be able to share my story and characters with others.
Q: What is your favorite Cozy Mystery book?
A: I really enjoy Steven K. Smith’s Virginia Mysteries series. They are nine cozies wrapped in historical fiction.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What was a big challenge you overcame to become the writer you are today?
A: I started writing mini adventures for Nancy Drew in the fourth grade when I discovered her mysteries. She’s still my hero who inspired me to become a published mystery writer someday. My biggest challenge was finding time as an adult since I was raising a daughter and teaching elementary school full-time. Once I retired in 2013 after thirty-five years in the classroom, my characters and their stories started bubbling to the surface. They haven’t stopped. Sometimes, they wake me up in the night, insisting that I tell their tale.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish?
A: One of my female detective characters, Rani Kumar, and I share a fascinating mental ability. We are both lexical-gustatory synesthetes! Have you ever heard of that? Perhaps you are a synesthete and don’t know it! I invite you to do some research about synesthesia if you’d like to learn more.