Blog Tour: Also Known As by Robin Benway
Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.
Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.
Tell me FIVE things that you LOVED about writing Also Known As!
1. Discovering the character of Roux. I had met her once before, so to speak, but she really came to life in AKA.
2. Imagining Angelo’s suits. I’ve never had such a well-dressed character before!
3. Setting the book in New York and researching locations. All of my previous books have been set in Southern California, so it was wonderful to shake it up a bit and set AKA in Manhattan. Discovering the pagoda birdhouse in Gramercy Park was particularly awesome.
4. Jesse started off as a very different, bad boy-esque character, and I felt like I was discovering his actual nature at the same time Maggie did. He was such a pleasant discovery. These characters, always surprising me!
5. The major scene at the end. No spoilers, but from the first day I started thinking about writing AKA, I couldn’t wait to write that scene. And it was worth the wait! My heart was pounding right along with Maggie’s!
What can fans of your previous books expect in Also Known As?
One of my favorite things to write is dialogue and that’s definitely the case for AKA. Maggie has to do a lot of fast talking, but this time, she has friends that can keep up with her. I also try to write realistic parents, too. At least, as realistic as spy parents can be! I always like books where the parents are secondary characters but still involved in their kid’s life.
Although Also Known As is fictional (I mean as far as we know!) did you have any fun research moments?
I got to research safecracking and lock picking, which was more difficult than I thought it would be! I tried to contact several locksmiths and safecrackers for information, not to find out how they do their job, but how it feels to do their job. Unfortunately, no one got back to me! I also discovered that it’s a lot easier to portray safecracking in movies than it is in books. In movies, you can just plug the doohickey into the whatchamacallit and two seconds later, the code is cracked! In books, you have to describe each piece of equipment, what it does, how it works, etc. It’s a lot more laborious.
A lot of people ask me if I’m now able to break locks and the answer is a resounding no. I’m a terrible safecracker. Just the worst. Maggie would be ashamed.
Tell us about your audiobook experience!
It was one of my all-time dreams to record my own audiobook, so the fact that I got to do it was so amazing! I had to submit several mp3s of me reading for the audition, and when I heard that they had chosen me as the narrator, I just freaked out, I was so excited. I flew to Michigan to the Brilliance Audio offices to record, and once I got into the booth, I found it was lot easier than I thought it would be. My nerves got the best of me in the beginning, but I think it’s easier to narrate your own book than someone else’s because you already know what your characters sound like. If I was doing someone else’s book, the challenge would be a lot bigger. I don’t think I could do it!
If you could have any narrator in the world do your audio books, who would you want?
Such a good question. I would have to say someone British just to shake things up. Maybe Helen Mirren or Benedict Cumberbatch? Stephen Fry, perhaps? OR OPRAH! I’m sure they all have plenty of free time and would love to do this! Call me, you guys!
Also Known As has a sequel!?!?! Was this something you planned on while writing the first book, or did this come later?
I’ve always planned on at least a few books in the series, but the plot of the sequel didn’t happen until the first book was finished. The stakes are definitely higher in the sequel and involve international travel, but that’s all I can say! Eek!
Which books are you most excited for this year?
I don’t read fiction when I’m writing, so I’m always at least a few years behind with books. I really want to read the new Deb Caletti book, as well as Aaron Hartzler’s “Rapture Practice” and “Out of the Easy” by Ruta Sepetys. But they have to write until I’m done with my next round of edits!