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How Eye Spy came to be written
Over the course of ten days, the lives of thirteen-year-old Alex Macintyre and his twin sister Donna will change forever.
Alex and Donna live in the seaside town of Holcombe Bay with their father, a reclusive inventor, and their grandmother, a school dinner lady. When the twins set up Eye Spy Investigations in an attempt to earn some money, they become involved in the case of Kiki, a missing lap dog. On the trail of a potential dog-napping gang, they are soon investigating three suspects: a bag lady; a mysterious man in a fur hat; and the bikers who hang out at the Starship Café. But as they pursue their suspects, Alex begins to realise that there is a mystery in his own family involving the mother they never knew.
When the twins attempt to help their father market his latest invention, a robot, things go horribly wrong and they uncover a devastating family secret. As events spiral out of control, can Alex find out the truth about their mother, save Donna from imminent danger, and return Kiki to her rightful owner?
Ever since I was very young, I’ve read voraciously. and I’ve always loved writing stories and illustrating them. My friend Lyndsay shared my interest in drawing and writing. We’d show each other our latest stories and drawings and speculate on who would be the writer and who the illustrator when we grew up. My father, who had recently published a very highly-regarded (but to me incomprehensible) book on mathematics, offered to send one of my stories to his publisher to see what he thought of it. When the reply finally arrived, the Editor told me that although I was not yet quite ready for publication. I should keep on writing and perhaps, after a few more years practice, I would write a story that would be good enough to be published.
I persevered, but as I progressed through my teens and became distracted by exams, boys, college and my first job, my writing dwindled into a journal full of teenage angst and soul searching. Then, when I was seventeen, Lyndsay died in a car accident. Now there was nobody to compare notes with, and to urge me on when I was stuck. I decided to channel my creativity into art instead of writing. I went to art college to study Interior Design, and for the next few years I worked in the offices of Architects and Designers and forgot all about telling stories.
Eventually I got married and had two children, Louise and Patrick. Like me, Louise loved reading. When she was about ten she told me she couldn’t find any books that appealed in the library. She enjoyed the stories of Enid Blyton, but found the books old-fashioned. What she really wanted were contemporary adventure stories. I thought I’m sure I can do that. And so I wrote my first children’s novel. According to the publishers and agents I sent it to, it had a lot of faults. First books usually do. So I wrote another book in which I tried very hard to correct all the mistakes I’d made in the first book. It was a mystery story about child detectives, and I felt that at last I had written something that was good enough to publish.
I set Eye Spy in a seaside town because we live by the sea, and writers are always told to ‘write what you know’. But Holcombe Bay isn’t like Southend, where we live. I imagined it as a small town on the South coast where visitors flock in the summer, but which is quiet and sleepy in winter. It’s a combination of all the holiday resorts we took our children to when they were small: Morecombe Bay, Great Yarmouth, Hastings, Sandown on the Isle of Wight. And it’s no secret that the twins’ eccentric inventor father was inspired by my husband Gwyn, who loves to shut himself away in his workshop and invent useful gadgets. I must point out, however, in fairness to him, that he’s not nearly as eccentric as Ian Macintyre! The rest of the characters appeared out of nowhere, and owe nothing to any living person, although Nan Macintyre was perhaps inspired by the rather dour Scottish lady who cooked our school dinners when I was a child.
I feel very much at home in Holcombe Bay and hope to write more stories about the families who live there, the pupils of Lea Green school, and, of course, those intrepid investigators – Alex and Donna Macintyre.
To read the first three chapters of Eye Spy, click on this link: