Alan Bradley received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, his first novel, which went on to win the Agatha Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Macavity Award and the Spotted Owl Award. He is the author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. He co-authored Ms. Holmes of Baker Street with the late William A.S. Sarjeant. Bradley lives in Malta with his wife and two calculating cats. His seventh Flavia de Luce mystery, “As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust” will be published in the US and Canada on January 6, 2015, and in the UK on April 23.
The first-ever Flavia short story, “The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse” has recently been published in eBook format, as has his 2006 memoir, “The Shoebox Bible”.
This is your 9th Flavia de Luce novel. What stuck out to you as you were writing this one?
Flavia’s always buoyant enthusiasm and (dare I say it?) lust for life always impresses me. She goes on from strength to strength no matter what. Even though she’s growing older, her irrepressible spirit is never quenched. I think there might be a message in it somewhere.
I love the titles of all your books. Describe how you came up with this one.
Most of the books’ titles reflect Flavia’s enthusiasm for tombs and graves, and what lies within. This one, of course, came from one of my favourite poets, Andrew Marvell. “The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace”. What else is there to say?
During this book, what motivates Flavia at this point in her life?
Flavia is motivated primarily by Chemistry, and the knowledge of what it can achieve, including power. She is beginning to think about her future, too, and what lies beyond Buckshaw.
As your 9th Flavia de Luce novel what’s it like to write about her as a person?
I am in awe of Flavia. She is a constant surprise and delight. It is a great honour and a privilege to be allowed to sit quietly in her presence and write down what she’s thinking and doing. Does she frighten me? Yes, definitely. Those around her are not really aware of how dangerous she is – or could be.
If you were to meet Flavia in person what would you say to her?
“Thank you, Flavia.”
Tell us a little about the setting where the story takes place.
The setting is a crumbling country house somewhere in England a few years after the end of WWII. Buckshaw has been handed down in the de Luce family for many generations, and contains echoes and memories of everyone who has ever lived in it. For most of its occupants, the past coexists with the present, and sometimes, the only reality is Death. Nearby is the village of Bishop’s Lacey, which provides almost everything that one could ever want in life, including a ready supply of victims.
Can’t wait for the audiobook! What is your role in the audiobook process?
The lovely folks at Random House Audio are always kind enough to allow me to point them towards interpretations which might be somewhat obscure in today’s world. We always have a lively exchange before and during the production of every audiobook. I must say that it was only recently that I had the opportunity to speak, live, to Jayne Entwistle, and I think both of us were in tears to discover the commonality of writing and becoming Flavia de Luce. We could have, as the saying goes, talked all night.
- A Flavia de Luce Novel
- Narrated by: Jayne Entwistle
- Series: Flavia de Luce Mysteries, Book 9
- Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 01-30-18
- Language: English
- Publisher: Random House Audio
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The world’s greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth” (The Seattle Times), Flavia de Luce, returns in a twisty mystery novel from award-winning author Alan Bradley.
In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly something grazes her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia’s grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia’s mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder—although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.