The Unofficial Book Reviewer is proud to present an exclusive interview with Alan Bradley, author of the much acclaimed Flavia de Luce mystery series. Click here to read a review of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Flavia’s first appearance in print.
Unofficial Book Reviewer: Flavia’s lab experiments are extremely convincing. Do you have a background in chemistry?
Alan Bradley: No, my background in chemistry was very limited, which means that I have to do intensive research to keep up with Flavia!
UBR: Has Flavia ever attended school before being sent to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto?
AB: Flavia has referred several times to the unfortunate Miss Gurdy, a former governess who seems to have fled Buckshaw and since been expunged from its history.
UBR: Where in England do you picture Bishop’s Lacey being located?
AB: Bishop’s Lacey is located everywhere in England simultaneously, although I have been assured with great authority by various readers that it is in Somerset, and in Oxfordshire, and in Yorkshire.
UBR: How did you choose the obscure Saint Tancred as patron of the village church?
AB: Saint Tancred is not one of those overworked saints. He was a cozy fit for Bishop’s Lacey, and seemed quite content and at home there—or at least he was until someone dug him up.
UBR: My favorite passage in the whole series is Dieter’s account of how he came to be captured during the war [in The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag]. Does this story have any basis in fact?
AB: Only in that there were a few German prisoners of war who chose to remain in England after the cessation of hostilities. The chapter about Dieter’s passion for the Brontës was originally twice the length of the printed version, but was cut after concerns about its interrupting the flow of the story. Some day, perhaps, the whole tale will be told.
UBR: Can we expect to see Flavia on the screen?
AB: The Flavia series is presently in production by the fine people who are responsible for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and The Man Who Invented Christmas. I can’t wait to see it on the screen.
UBR: What authors do you particularly enjoy?
AB: Dickens, Doyle, Joyce, Robert Graves. Among the moderns, Ann Wroe, Sarah Dunant, John Banville . . . the list goes on and on. I enjoy any book that’s beautifully written, no matter the topic or genre. Reading is a consoling business, and everyone loves to be consoled.
More books by Alan Bradley: