“There are so many places I’d love to take her and loads more adventures to write, so who knows where she might go next…”
We are big fans of the wonderful Alice-Miranda series, and loved chatting with their author, Jacqueline Harvey, before she releases #14: Alice-Miranda in China! You can learn more about what we thought of Alice-Miranda’s latest adventure here, and read on to learn where the inspiration came from, which kids’ books Jacqueline loved growing up, and what excites her the most about the upcoming Alice-Miranda TV series!
BR: Alice-Miranda has had so many adventures already, and she’s only just turned nine! What can readers look forward to in Alice-Miranda in China?
JH: Alice-Miranda and her friends are off on a school trip to Beijing via Hong Kong and Shanghai. On their first night in Hong Kong they get to see the most amazing acrobatics show – The Circus of Golden Destiny and meet the young star, Summer Tan. Jacinta is inspired to rethink giving up gymnastics and decides perhaps a career in acrobatics could be for her. But of course not everything is what it seems and when the girls see Summer in the market and then again at the Shanghai Museum, Alice-Miranda has a feeling all is not well. Throw in some attempted gold fish smuggling, a hilarious trip to the Pearl Tower, a robbery at the Shanghai museum and some interesting home stays and the book is full to the brim with mystery and adventure.
Last year I was fortunate to visit China and I thought it was the perfect place to set a story. A friend of mine was the Headmistress of a school in Beijing so we got to visit her and talk to the students and they were absolutely brimming with ideas. They were a little obsessed with pandas – which don’t actually feature heavily in the story but there was plenty of inspiration for food and day trips and things that Alice-Miranda and her friends just had to see.
BR: She’s been to America, Japan, France, Switzerland – where else in the world would you love to send Alice-Miranda?
My readers often make suggestions about where she should go next. Hawaii is a very popular choice, as is Hollywood, India and Africa. There are so many places I’d love to take her and loads more adventures to write, so who knows where she might go next.
BR: In the book, Alice-Miranda says to Millie: “Can you imagine us all grown up? What will we be doing ten or fifteen years from now?” Millie sees herself as an Olympian, with Alice-Miranda running the Highton’s empire. Is she right? What might the girls be like as adults?
I’m not sure myself yet. I could perhaps see Alice-Miranda taking over the reins of SPLOD (the Secret Protection League of Defence) when Marjorie Plunkett steps down – she is after all an excellent problem solver and brilliant at weeding out the bad guys. Who knows – the girls have still got plenty of time to decide and if they’re anything like most kids, they’ll change their minds lots of times before they grow up.
BR: At the end of the day, Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is the kind of friend who will always have your back. In the book, Summer Tan says Alice-Miranda is almost an “old soul – there was wisdom in her eyes.” Tell us more about the inspiration for Alice-Miranda.
Alice-Miranda was initially inspired by three girls I used to teach. In their own ways they were wise little people too. As I started to work out her character I like to think she became the best bits of so many children I’ve taught over the years. She is a wise soul – beyond her years but still naïve at times, which is a lovely thing.
BR: There’s a TV show in the works! Which character are you most excited to see come to life?
Alice-Miranda and Millie – and I can’t wait to see Myrtle Parker on the screen. I suppose I’m intrigued to see how they all work out. It’s going to be lots of fun.
I loved Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I remember visiting Switzerland for the first time and being on a train in the Alps with my face pressed up against the window, thinking that it was just like I’d imagined in Heidi. I also loved Black Beauty (I was horse obsessed) and anything by Enid Blyton. I was a huge Paddington Bear fan as well.
BR: Give us a small hint – what might Alice-Miranda and her friends be up to in book #15?
Alice-Miranda Holds the Key is another fantastic adventure although I will say that right from the start there are some strange happenings. Alice-Miranda’s father’s grocery empire, Kennington’s is embroiled in a huge food poisoning scare and Alice-Miranda finds herself in hospital too (but for different reasons). Back at home a new neighbour is behaving strangely – what has she got to hide and who does Alice-Miranda find hiding in one of the barns? The lead up to the annual garden party and Open House is filled with mystery and packed with intrigue. Thankfully Alice-Miranda and her friends are there to set things to rights.