March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Three Quick Questions: Sophie Cleverly on Scarlet and Ivy: The Lost Twin

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Photo by Aeryn Ivy

Photo by Aeryn Ivy

Tell us about your book. What was the inspiration?
The book tells the story of Ivy Grey, whose twin, Scarlet, disappears under mysterious circumstances at the creepy Rookwood boarding school. The day after what would have been their joint 13th birthday, Ivy receives a letter from terrifying teacher Miss Fox, asking her to take her sister’s place. She soon realizes that in order to find the truth, she will have to become Scarlet and hunt down the pieces of her diary that are hidden throughout the school.

The inspiration came from an exercise that I did when I was studying creative writing at university. We were asked to imagine a character returning to a room that they hadn’t set foot in for a very long time. I pictured a girl entering a room with twin beds, and I wondered who owned the other bed…. By the end of the class, I had the idea for a lost twin and a secret diary. I felt like it was a story that needed to be told, that I needed to uncover the truth as much as Ivy did.

Who are your literary idols—especially in children’s literature?
My idols would have to be Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, who are wonderful writers for both adults and children. Pratchett’s “Tiffany Aching” series has been a huge inspiration for me, and Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book are two of my absolute favorite books. I love that their stories are funny, scary, sad, and beautiful all at the same time.

1605-POP-Cleverly-The-Lost-TwinWhat kind of reader were you as a kid?
A very enthusiastic one! I would go to the library in the city and take out as many books as I could carry. At school I was always heading for the older classes’ bookshelves so I could read longer books. I absolutely loved series—“Goosebumps,” “The Baby-Sitters Club,” “Nancy Drew,” “The Famous Five.” I wanted to collect every title and read more about my favorite characters. I couldn’t resist a good mystery, either, and I think those things are what led to me wanting to write a mystery series as a grown-up.

This article was published in School Library Journal's May 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Kiera Parrott About Kiera Parrott

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for School Library Journal and Library Journal and a former children's librarian. Her favorite books are ones that make her cry—or snort—on public transportation.