I am delighted to welcome Sarah Baker to the blog today for a special guest post. Author of the intriguing and beautiful, ‘Through the Mirror Door,’ she is back with a new gripping mystery ‘Eloise Undercover’ which follows brave 12-year-old Eloise as she tries to find her father during the German occupation of France during World War Two. What secrets will she discover in the search for her father?
ELOISE UNDERCOVER Monsieur X – Sarah Baker
My very favourite types of books to read are books about books. Add to that a childhood love of adventure stories and you have the inspiration for the Monsieur X books that Eloise in Eloise Undercover loves.
We moved, on average, every 3.5 years during my childhood and it was usually to somewhere rather remote. Once we moved to a farm with a stream running right through it, another time to a topsy-turvy house where the living rooms and kitchen were upstairs, the bedrooms downstairs, and the building almost completely surrounded by a forest. It was usually a long car trip to the nearest town so my library card became my best friend. We visited the library at least once a week and I remember the moment the Librarian told me I could take out a maximum of eight books. Eight whole books! I would try to make them last.
If I’d been particularly good (I came second in a gymkhana once and made a convincing singing robin in the local panto chorus another year) then I’d get a book present. This was amazing. I’ve loved bookshops since I can remember. The smell, the sheer volume of all those books; all those stories! The idea that I could take one of them home and it would be mine forever. I don’t think I’ve lost that. I still get a bit overexcited in a bookshop.
My absolute childhood favourites were the Famous Five and Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton. Oh and Malory Towers and St. Clare’s. In fact the latter are entirely responsible for my successful campaign to go to boarding school aged 10. The former are the inspiration behind the Monsieur X books that Eloise loves so much.
Eloise’s love of detective/adventure books is something we share, though while she longs to be a detective, I simply loved stories. What better way to be anything you ever wanted to be than by reading a book and experiencing it? There’s this bit in The Never Ending Story where the grumpy bookshop owner asks Bastian, “Have you ever been Captain Nemo, trapped inside your submarine while the giant squid is attacking you?” That’s what I love. Being Captain Nemo, Darrell Waters in Malory Towers, George in The Famous Five or Dinah in the Castle of Adventure.
The Monsieur X books are a homage to those adventure stories I loved so much as a child. The ones that let me expose spies, foil burglaries and have midnight feasts and lacrosse matches. They took me on fantastic adventures and I hope El (and Monsieur X) will take new readers on adventures too.
Thank you to Sarah for her fascinating guest post and to Laura and Catnip for inviting me to host this blog post. ‘Eloise Undercover’ is available to buy now online and from all good bookshops.