Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Beth McMullen and her middle grade novel POWER PLAY: MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS #2
Title: Power Play: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls #2
Age Range: 9-14
Launch Date: July 3, 2018
Please tell us a little bit about your book.
Abby and the rest of her friends go international as they embark on their first “official” Center mission in this second book in the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series.
After discovering the truth about her spy school/boarding school—and her super-spy mom—Abby Hunter is ready for her next adventure, but what’s about to happen is something she never would have guessed…
Everyone at The Smith School is obsessed with Monster Mayhem, the latest reality video game craze. But when Drexel Caine, the mastermind behind the game is suddenly kidnapped, it becomes clear that the kidnappers are playing for more than just special badges.
After Drexel’s son—who is Abby’s friend, Toby—receives a cryptic message, Abby and her friends discover the kidnapping is part of a bigger scheme that could take down The Center for good.
With the help of Abby’s frenemy (and reluctant mentor), Veronica Brooks, the group tackles their first official Center Mission. They tangle with the world’s most notorious hacker, get in trouble for the possible theft of the Mona Lisa, and prepare for the ultimate showdown in London. But not before they have to contend with one more hurdle: the agonizing Smith School Spring Formal. Along the way, they discover they are much stronger as a team they can ever be alone.
And with a little luck, they might just save the world.
What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?
I went to boarding school as a kid and always thought it would make a great setting for a novel. I was writing for adults at the time so I tried it as an adult mystery but it was really bad. It wasn’t until I hit on a twelve year old as my main character that all the pieces fell into place.
Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?
My process is messy and inefficient! I wish I could make a beautiful, detailed outline and stick to it but I’m definitely a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of author. I just jump in and start writing. It’s not uncommon for me to rewrite the first 50 pages ten times. Mostly I’m trying to find the voice of the character and somewhere in that write/rewrite process I get it and then I’m off to the races.
We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?
When I was in high school, my history teacher read a story I’d written about brothers on opposing sides of the civil war aloud to the class. Naturally, I was mortified (teenagers!) but I distinctly remember how the students hung on every word. I was hooked!
What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?
I want students to understand that making mistakes is okay, this is how we learn, and that sometimes we have to quiet the internal voice of doubt that keeps us from taking action and just embrace the risk of something new or unknown. Abby is a girl who doesn’t claim to know what she’s doing but is willing to try anyway. My message is: get off the sidelines, get into the game and don’t worry if you mess up. Keep trying.
It’s a message I dearly wish someone had offered me when I was young.
I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?
I just wrote a dog into an adult thriller screenplay I’m working on! He’s a tiny little thing – probably some kind of toy poodle/scrappy mutt mix and his job is to give the main character something to cling to (in her case, literally) when things get way ugly in the third act. His names is Oscar and he’s loosely based on my brother’s dog.
Beth McMullen is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series and several adult mysteries. Her books have heroes and bad guys, action and messy situations. An avid reader, she once missed her subway stop and rode the train all the way to Brooklyn because the book she was reading was that good. She lives in Northern California with her family, two cats and a parakeet named Zeus, who is sick of the cats eye-balling him like he’s dinner.
You can find Beth at her website or on social media at: