Today I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour to celebrate the final book in the Taylor and Rose Secret Agents series written by Katherine Woodfine and illustrated by Karl James Mountford. We are going back to the beginning and visiting, ‘Peril in Paris,’ on the blog today and I have a special guest post and Q & A with Katherine. Without further ado, let’s see the sights of Paris…
PARIS – KATHERINE WOODFINE
Bonjour Paris! With the final book, Nightfall in New York, being published on 8th July, what better moment to revisit the previous books in the Taylor & Rose Secret Agents series — beginning with Peril in Paris?
This first book in the series sees young detectives Sophie Taylor and Lil Rose leaving London behind, on an exciting mission for the mysterious Secret Service Bureau. In Paris, they must go undercover to investigate a murder and a sinister plot. It was great fun to write about Sophie and Lil (who also appear in previous series The Sinclair’s Mysteries) settling into their thrilling new role as secret agents for the British government, facing all kinds of dangers along the way.
I loved writing this story, which is set in one of my very favourite cities. I was able to draw on lots of my own special memories of visiting Paris, as well as to indulge myself in researching the city as it would have been in 1911. Sophie and Lil’s adventures take them everywhere from the streets of Montmartre, to sophisticated night-club La Lune Bleue — inspired by the legendary Moulin Rouge.
Of course, I couldn’t resist a visit to Paris to help me research the book — and if that wasn’t enough, I also took a little day-trip there to celebrate its publication. That seems incredibly decadent now (and it’s certainly the fanciest way I’ve ever celebrated a new book!) but it’s so lovely to be able to look back on a memorable day of lunch in the sunshine, a boat trip on the Seine and of course a visit to wonderful bookshop Shakespeare & Co. I’m looking forward to being able to go back to Paris again soon — which is now even more special to me, as the setting for the first Taylor & Rose adventure.
Why did you decide to use Paris for the setting of the first book?
Paris is not only one of my favourite cities, it’s also one I know reasonably well. I can navigate the Métro, I understand the layout of the city, and I speak some French. For that reason, it felt like a good, solid place to start — and the ideal city for Sophie and Lil to begin their travels.
What’s more, I knew it would be interesting to explore the Paris of this period. 1911 is towards the end of what we now call the ‘Belle Époque’, which saw the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the Paris Métro, grand exhibitions like the Universal Exposition of 1900 which showcased the latest innovations in everything from art to technology, the birth of cinema, the Ballets Russes, the Impressionists… I could go on! This was a moment at which Paris was hugely influential in terms of art, culture and fashion, and I knew it would offer lots for me to write about — and of course, lots of scope for adventure.
What inspired you to have Sophie and Lil recruited to the Secret Service Bureau?
While I was writing the final book in the Sinclair’s Mysteries series, The Midnight Peacock, I learned that the real-life British Secret Service Bureau (which would later become MI5 and MI6) was established at around the time this book was set. That caught my attention at once — and in fact, there’s a hint at the end of that book that Sophie and Lil may find themselves working for a mysterious new government organisation in the future.
The idea of Sophie and Lil turning their detective talents to becoming secret agents was really intriguing to me, and I soon found myself reading more about the early days of the Secret Service Bureau, as well as exploring some of the stories of spies and espionage that were so popular in the years running up to the First World War. From this research, the idea for Taylor & Rose Secret Agents soon evolved.
When writing Peril in Paris, what kind of research did you do?
I read a lot — both fiction and non-fiction, and consulted maps, travel guides and even railway timetables from the period! As always, I looked at lots of images for inspiration, from fashion illustrations to 1900s photographs of Paris. Of course, writing the book was also a great excuse for a trip to Paris to scout out some of the key locations that appear in the book. I also wanted to take the time to absorb all the small details which are so important when you’re trying to evoke the atmosphere of a place — the colours, smells, sounds, and of course, the food (especially essential in France!) While I couldn’t visit Paris in 1911, I could mooch about the present-day city streets, trying to imagine myself back in time — and stopping for a few all-important patisserie breaks along the way…
Thank you to Katherine for this really insightful guest post and a wonderful trip to Paris, it’s really making me want to hop on the Eurostar and visit my favourite city. If you want to listen to Katherine read from, ‘Peril in Paris,’ click here or have a sneak peek of her Pinterest click here. ‘Nightfall in New York,’ is published on the 8th July and you can pre-order online or at your local bookshop.
The next step on the blog tour is St.Petersburg with Miss Cleveland is Reading next week…