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Writing Alice Miranda

June 12, 2018

Jacqueline Harvey worked in schools for many years but has had a passion for storytelling since she was a child. Here she talks about creating the character of Alice-Miranda.

Words | Jacqueline Harvey

When I first began writing the character of Alice-Miranda, my pint-sized, perpetually positive heroine, I imagined that she would occupy 32 pages in a picture book. However, as I delved further into her personality and what I wanted her to get up to I realised that she was going to need quite a bit more space than that. Not for one second though did I think I’d write 17 novels, which started at 44,000 words and now sit around 64,000 with another three contracted.

Alice-Miranda has been a huge part of my life for a decade now. It took me over two and a half years to write the first book – given I had no contract and no real prospects I decided that I wanted to write the sort of story I would have loved as a child. Something full of mystery and adventure with friends and foes, animals, fantastic locations, food, family and of course lots of trouble. It didn’t matter how long it took – I just wanted it to be as good as I was capable of. The character came first, and I happily admit that in the beginning she was a combination of three little girls I had taught – in terms of her looks and personality. Over time, she grew to take on the best traits of many children I’ve known (girls and boys) and right from the start I have absolutely relished writing these stories, meeting her friends, coming up with the plots and ensuring that every book is different. I tell children all the time that one of the most important things is to fall in love with your characters – the good guys and the baddies and I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve never found myself bored or frustrated by the series. I really do adore spending time with this cast. Writing the books has been and continues to be an absolute joy.

Children and parents often ask me if I’ve been to all of the places where I set the stories. It’s a yes to most of them and I have travelled to do research and make sure that there is an authenticity about the locations. Of course, there are places I haven’t been and that’s when Google really is an author’s best friend. Barcelona features at the beginning of the fourth book, Alice-Miranda at Seaand I spent hours researching the city and using Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View to get a better feel for things, having never set foot in Spain.

Alice-Miranda’s newest adventure is set in Scotland, a country I fell in love with a few years ago when I was there on a book tour. We’ve been back several times since and even experienced six sunny days in a row in October while on a golf tour (apparently unheard of). There’s something about the countryside, the beautiful architecture and the people. Scots have a great sense of humour and their accents are wonderful too. After seventeen books and considerable travels Alice-Miranda has made friends all over the world and so I thought this story was a fantastic opportunity to bring many of the children back together for a new adventure. As always there’s mystery and intrigue, some interesting new characters and fabulous locations. I’ve already had emails from children who have finished the book and can’t wait for the next. I’m looking forward to writing it – I think perhaps Alice-Miranda is due to spend some time back at school but after that, who knows where life will take her next. And that’s all part of the fun!

Read our review of Alice Miranda in Scotland | Start reading now | Purchase a copy 

Jacqueline Harvey worked in schools for many years but has had a passion for storytelling since she was a child. She is the author of the popular Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series, which have sold over one million copies in Australia alone. Her books have received numerous short-listings and awards while her picture book, The Sound of the Sea, was a CBCA Honour Book.

Jacqueline speaks to thousands of young people at schools and festivals around the world, and says the characters in her books are often made up of the best bits of children she’s met over the years. While she is not a twin, like Kensy and Max she does have excellent powers of observation and has always thought she’d make a great spy.

Jacqueline lives in Sydney and is currently working on more Kensy and Max, Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose adventures.


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