Helen Castles talks Scoop McLaren: Waves of Mystery

September 29th, 2020

1.     Tell us about the new Scoop McLaren book, Waves of Mystery. What can we expect?

Readers can expect lots of twists and turns as Scoop and Evie set out to uncover who is trying to stop their friend Fletcher from winning Higgity Harbour's most prestigious junior surfing competition. Just when the girls think they have this mystery all wrapped up, Fletcher disappears, forcing them to reopen the case.
Nothing is really as it appears in Waves of Mystery, and it's a bit of a departure from the first book with its summery surfing theme.

2.     How long did it take you to write the book, and what was the process like?

It took about six months to write the first draft and then around the same amount of time to go through subsequent drafts and edits with my editor. For me, the best part about writing is the editing process where you really get to delve right in and make the story shine.

3.     Do you find your journalistic writing helps or hinders the fiction writing process?

I don't think it helps or hinders but when you write about the news all day, it's nice to come home and write fiction. If anything, it probably makes me appreciate my job as a children's author more, to have that freedom to write about whatever I want as opposed to sticking to the news story of the day, whatever that may be.

4.     Surfing is a big part of Waves of Mystery. Are you a surfer yourself?

No, but I'd like to be! It's a goal, to at least learn how to surf and not drown in the process. I don't have any grand desire to win competitions like Fletcher, it just appeals to me because it looks like a very adventurous and freeing pastime.

5.     What do you like to get up to when you’re not working?

I love nature, I love gardening and seeing things grow. I'd like to be a better cook and am a mad recipe hoarder, so I enjoy being in the kitchen.

I collect vintage jewellery and I'm often scouring the internet and antique shops to find unique treasures.

My father was a great drawer so I'm keen to explore that as well to see if I inherited his talent. I signed up for a drawing class earlier this year but then COVID hit and I  didn't get to go, but I will.

I'll also never say no to a day of shopping or a catch-up over coffee or a nice meal with friends.

6.     Have you been reading anything good recently?

I'm reading The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence and I absolutely love it. It's funny, it's pulling at the heartstrings and you can't help but be drawn in by Alex and his story of growing up different. It's written beautifully and it's a brilliant debut novel by Extence. I'll definitely be looking for more of his books.

7.     Scoop has plenty of young fans! Are you excited to share the new book with them?

Absolutely! I received such great feedback from the first book in the series so I'm extremely anxious to hear what readers think of Waves of  Mystery. It was meant to be released in June but, like so many releases at that time, it got pushed back because of COVID. So while it's been a little while coming, I hope readers find it worth the wait.

8.     What is the most challenging thing about writing the Scoop McLaren books?

I think to keep the books fresh and engaging, to try and put a different spin on each book while still maintaining the same basic winning formula. The challenge lies in not making it predictable.

I also have to be careful not to give Evie all the funny lines! She's such a funny girl.

9.     What’s the most rewarding thing?

Last year I received a message from a mother who took the time to contact me on social media to thank me for writing Scoop because her daughter finds it hard to stay interested in reading but she couldn't put Scoop down. It's amazing to me that something I created can bring so much joy to someone else.

10.  What’s something you’ve learned in the last year?

To live in the moment and never take anything for granted because as we've all seen this year, life can change dramatically in an instant.

Feisty detective editor, Scoop McLaren, is back and this time the mystery has her sailing into uncharted waters! When Fletcher, Scoop's childhood friend enters the Higgity Harbour top surfing competition, strange things start happening... It looks like someone could be out to stop Fletcher from winning! With her roving reporter, Evie, by her side, Scoop investigates all avenues. Can she track down and rescue her friend to solve this monster wave of a mystery once and for all?

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