Robin Stevens’ series of 1930s murder mysteries featuring schoolgirl detectives Wells and Wong draw inevitable comparisons with Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, but the ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ books have a couple of beguiling heroines in Daisy and Hazel that create a uniquely entertaining series.
Why did you choose to set your Wells and Wong detective stories in the 1930s?
The 1930s are a time period that I love. There’s such an interesting mix of danger and fun in the way people thought and behaved, and the clothes are utterly glamorous. And, of course, the 1930s was boom time for Golden Age crime novels. When we think about the 1930s now we think about Poirot and Miss Marple – so it’s very easy to imagine a murder mystery series then!
How do you ensure the authenticity of your 1930s setting?
I do a lot of research. I mostly read novels and non-fiction written during the years I’m writing about – they show me how people were really thinking and talking, what they were worried about and what they ate. I even find lovely details about how things smelled and so on that aren’t in more recent history books!
Were Daisy and Hazel inspired by real or fictional people or by aspects of either real or
There are two answers to this! First, Daisy and Hazel began life as little girl versions of my two favourite detectives, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Like Holmes, Daisy is brilliant, cold-hearted and very English, and like Poirot, Hazel is a kind, logical and comfort-obsessed immigrant. But they’re also based on real people, my group of friends from boarding school. There’s not a single real person who is Hazel or Daisy, but the girls I knew at school all inspired their characters.
Who are your literary heroes and heroines?
Oh, Agatha Christie, of course! I also love Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey and Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m also very influenced by the books that made me a reader as a child – Diana Wynne Jones, Eva Ibbotson and Terry Pratchett.