Hi Doug! Thank you for stopping by MG Book Village to talk about your upcoming debut novel, FINALLY, SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS, which comes out on April 14th. Can you give us a brief synopsis of it, please?
Sure! Three 11 year old friends, Paul, Shanks, and Peephole, are desperate to solve real mysteries. They even have an official name for their detective team: The One and Onlys (because they’re all only children). But there aren’t really any good mysteries in their small town of Bellwood, until one day a crowd of rubber duckies appears out of nowhere on a neighbor’s lawn. The three friends launch their investigation, but as they track down clues about who is responsible for the duckies, the longer their suspect list becomes. Meanwhile, the biggest event of the year, the Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza, is right around the corner, and the arrival of a new megastore promises to shake things up for Paul’s parents’ little hardware store. To make things more unsettling, a forest fire on the edge of the town is growing, threatening to change their little town forever.
I love a good mystery, and who can resist one that involves rubber duckies! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for it?
Back in the 90s, an ocean liner spilled 28,000 rubber bath toys into the Pacific. The bath toys, many of them rubber duckies, started washing up on shores around the world, and people were perplexed. I read an article about this and was completely captivated with the image of a whole bunch of rubber duckies randomly appearing on somebody’s yard. I started with that image, and then built a town, characters, and ultimately a mystery around it.
Which character in your book is most like you, and why?
I am definitely most like Paul, the main character. He’s usually even-keeled and quiet, but he goes nuts for mysteries. I also grew up in a small town much like Bellwood, and I remember making up mysterious backstories for neighbors and acquaintances. I always suspected as a kid (and still do) that there is a lot of wonderful weirdness hidden just below the surface of the seemingly mundane world. Paul reacts to the duckies in the same way that I would have as a kid: with a sense of adventure and intrigue.
Can you tell us 3 things you’d like readers to know about this book?
First, it’s a lot of fun! I wanted to make sure that the town of Bellwood was filled with wonderfully strange people, so I think there’s a lot of humor in the book. Who says mysteries can’t be funny? Second, I’d like readers to know that it’s a mystery that they can actually solve if they’re paying close enough attention. My favorite mysteries are the ones that I can sleuth out along with the characters. And finally, I want the readers to know that, in addition to rubber duckies, there is bratwurst in this book. Lots and lots of bratwurst.
What’s one thing about your debut journey that has surprised you?
Writing a novel can feel like a solitary effort at times, because you’ll spend an awful lot of time living in your head and typing things onto a screen (or writing them into a notebook). I was surprised at how much this book became a collaborative effort. My agent, my editor, my publishing team, the cover artist…So many people were involved and lent their creative spirit and efforts to this book. It became so much more than just my manuscript!
So many writers have to balance writing with other parts of their lives. How do you fit writing into your daily life?
I wish I were able to say something like “I have a strict 5am writing routine that I adhere to everyday without deviation,” but that wouldn’t be honest. The truth is, with two kids under three and a full time high school teaching job, finding time to write is sometimes a difficult task. I nudge and scrap for moments here and there, and I’m always jotting down ideas for dialogue or for plot twists. I’ve learned that everybody writes differently, and that goes for routines too.
Where can our readers go to find out more information about you and your writing?
They can go to my website, www.dougcornettwrites.com. Or, follow me on social media:
Thanks for spending time with us today, Doug, and I look forward to seeing your book in the hands of young readers very soon!
Thank you so much for having me!!
When he was a kid, Doug Cornett aspired to be an all-star point guard in the NBA. When he realized that probably wasn’t going to happen, he turned his attention to writing and never looked back. Now, in addition to writing middle grade mystery novels, he likes playing ping-pong, noodling on the guitar, and rooting for the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers. He also teaches high school English and History at Northwest Academy. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two children. Finally, Something Mysterious is his debut novel.