It’s time to Kick Back with Kick-butt!
Today we’re chatting with Katryn Bury, the author of
DREW LECLAIR GETS A CLUE
Drew Leclair knows what it takes to be a great detective. She’s pored over the cases solved by her hero, criminal profiler Lita Miyamoto. She tracked down the graffiti artist at school, and even solved the mystery of her neighbor’s missing rabbit. But when her mother runs off to Hawaii with the school guidance counselor, Drew is shocked. How did she miss all of the clues?
Drew is determined to keep her family life a secret, even from her best friend. But when a cyberbully starts posting embarrassing rumors about other students at school, it’s only a matter of time before Drew’s secret is out.
Armed with her notebooks full of observations about her classmates, Drew knows what she has to do: profile all of the bullies in her grade to find the culprit. But being a detective is more complicated when the suspects can be your friends. Will Drew crack the case if it means losing the people she cares about most?
Let’s talk to this phenomenal author about her terrific book!
This is Katryn. Everyone say, “Hi, Katryn!”
Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Katryn! Tell us about yourself!
Hi! Thanks so much for inviting me to interview. My name is Katryn Bury, and I’m the author of Drew Leclair Gets a Clue, a middle grade mystery. My favorite pastimes (other than reading or writing, of course!) is hanging out with my amazing family in our hometown–Oakland, CA.
What was the inspiration behind DREW LECLAIR GETS A CLUE?
I’m a longtime true crime fan (much like my main character, Drew) and I was taking long walks while listening to Michelle McNamera’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark audiobook. In another life, I wanted to be a criminal profiler or a true crime writer. Listening to that book, I wondered what could have been different if I’d had a role model like Michelle McNamera. Thus, Drew Leclair was born, and her hero (based on Michelle), Lita Miyamoto. Once I had that idea, it was so fun to create a character that “profiles” her classmates.
We love hearing stories about ‘The Call’ here on Kick-butt Kidlit. What were you doing when you found out your book had sold?
It was a fantastic day. It was November 2020, and we had just found out the day before that Joe Biden officially won the election. I live in Oakland, so there was a lot of celebration in our neighborhood and we were riding high after lots of stress from the pandemic and the election season. The morning after, I woke up to a call from my agent. We had a pre-empt two book offer from the fantastic Emilia Rhodes. So, another day of celebration commenced!
Sounds like an awesome good news WEEK!
What were three interesting things you discovered while working on DREW LECLAIR GETS A CLUE?
I think the first thing I realized writing this book was that I still felt the impact of my years of bullying as a kid. Even as a fun mystery, the bullying really stands out in this book. I think that’s because I was working through something really personal to me. Second, I discovered that mysteries are my favorite genre to write. I love forming clues and red herrings, like Drew does on her crime boards! Lastly, I realized that it’s really hard to talk about true crime in a book for kids without any of the gory details you’d normally get. It was hard to walk that line!
Mystery books are truly one of the best genres. 😀
If you could transport your characters across book dimensions, which book would you most like them to end up in and why?
Oh, Nancy Drew for sure! Drew Leclair is named after Nancy Drew, the mystery queen herself. I’d love to see Drew join that famous mystery solving trio to solve a crime.
Why were you drawn to writing middle grade?
I think there’s something really special that happens in that “between” age. You’re really figuring out who you are, as well as who you want to be. For me, it’s the true coming of age space and I find that time so compelling to write about.
Any hints about your next book project?
Yes! There should be an official announcement forthcoming, but I’ve been told it’s not a secret. Drew Leclair has a second book coming next spring! I really love the character, so getting the honor of revisiting her for a second story was just incredible.
Oh, yay! Congrats!
What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?
I think the most surprising part has been the fits and starts. I was writing for 30 years before I got an agent, but it was a very slow process. I would write books, send out a handful of query letters, and then give up. I started to pursue it more vigorously in 2017 and that process was slow as well. I probably racked up around 250 rejections. However, when I pitched Drew Leclair Gets a Clue on Twitter for #DvPit (a fantastic program I highly recommend, founded by Beth Phelan), everything happened very fast. I got five offers and, after only two weeks on sub, made a sale. Of course, after that, the wait for pub day was agonizing!
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello Universe. I’ve read almost all of her other books but somehow never got to the Newbery winner. I just love her writing. Next up I’m extremely excited to read Tae Keller’s newest book, Jennifer Chan is Not Alone. I’m a big alien person, and this is one I truly can’t wait for.
What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?
I give this advice frequently, but here it is: don’t feel bad if you’re sensitive. All along this process, I was advised to “grow a thick skin.” The thing is, that’s hard for sensitive people. And our sensitivity comes out in all sorts of fantastic ways (including really authentic characters!) so I would never suggest you change yourself. Getting rejected is really hard and it’s okay to feel all of your feelings as long as you don’t give up!
So, so, so true and a great reminder.
Thank you so much for joining us, Katryn!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out DREW LECLAIR GETS A CLUE!
It’s on shelves now!
Click here to enter to win a copy of DREW LECLAIR GETS A CLUE!
Contest closes Friday, June 10th at 11:59 pm EST
Thanks for reading!