Thursday, July 6, 2017

Interview with Beth McMullen, author of MRS. SMITH'S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS

Today we're celebrating the release of Beth McMullen's MRS. SMITH'S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS! Spies, a boarding school that isn't exactly what it seems, and a missing mother. This is the perfect middle grade novel for kids who love a little adventure in their books.

MRS. SMITH made its way onto shelves this past Tuesday, and the book's author, Beth McMullen, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. But first, a little about the book . . .



A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut.

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut. After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…



Makes you want to dress all in black and borrow some of Inspector Gadget's best gadgets, no? But if you prefer to stay put on your comfy couch, read on to learn more about the book and about Beth:

1. Can you describe Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls in three words?

Life gone sideways.

2. I love books about spies! Nifty gadgets (okay, I'm a little obsessed with the gadgets!), disguises, danger -- what's not to love, right? What was your inspiration?

I’m fairly obsessed with themes of things not being as they seem. This idea takes over my books, even if I don’t want it to. Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls began as a story about a girl in boarding school, based on my own experiences in a similar place as a kid. But before I knew it, there were spies and lies and adventure and the boarding school was definitely not normal. So I just gave in and went with it.

3. Abigail sounds like someone I'd love to be friends with. (I mean, check out that cover! You'd definitely want Abby in your corner.) I've found that characters are either really easy to write or their personalities take longer to develop, almost as if they're hiding from me in the first draft. Was Abby's character one that came to you quickly, or did she develop more slowly through your drafts?

Abby was easy. She seemed to arrive fully formed in my head – smart, funny and not afraid. But I struggled with the story. My first draft sat for a year while I worked on other projects and it was only after I came back to it that I was able to work out the mechanics of the plot.

4. Without giving too much away, can you tell us about your favorite scene in the book?

There’s a scene toward the end where it is up to Abby to save her friends and, you know, the world and she gives it her absolute all. She throws every ounce of smarts and strength she has at the problem. I love that willingness to charge forward, even if the outcome is not guaranteed. To me, that’s brave.

5. Since we're in the middle of summer, what other great MG books out there would you recommend for kids this summer?

There are so many amazing MG books out right now! And I’m really into the action/adventure stories featuring mighty girls! I’d recommend Holly Farb and The Princess of the Galaxy, by Gareth Wronski; My Diary From The Edge Of The World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson; Prisoner of Ice and Snow, by Ruth Lauren; and, A Dash of Dragon, by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski (this one releases July 11th)

6. And now for the really deep, introspective questions:
Target or Walmart? Target
Fall or spring? Spring
Cats or dogs? cats
Coffee or tea? coffee
Toilet paper roll over or under? OVER and I refuse to argue with my children about this ever again :)

Thanks, Beth! MRS. SMITH'S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS snuck its way onto bookshelves this past Tuesday. So put on your best fake mustache and break out that lipstick that turns into a nightlight, and get ready for a spy-rific read!


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 eyeballing him like he’s dinner. Find her at:

Twitter: @bvam

Instagram: bethmcmullenbooks

FB: @BethMcMullenBooks

Website: BethMcMullenBooks.com




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