An Indies Introduce New Voices Q&A With Marcia Wells

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Marcia Wells is the author of Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile (HMH Books for Young Readers), a Spring 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices title for middle-graders and a Kids’ Indie Next List pick. Wells holds a master’s degree in Spanish Literature and has worked as a writing, Spanish, and math teacher in high schools and middle schools. She lives in Vermont with her husband and children.

Eddie Red, secret weapon of the NYPD, has a photographic memory, a talent for drawing anything he sees … and is in sixth grade. To solve a case involving art thefts, he must go deeper into NYC’s famous Museum Mile to draw ever closer to the infamous Picasso Gang. Wells’ debut is “fast paced, funny, and action packed,” said Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas. “Readers are going to love Eddie Red, Undercover. I laughed, and I know readers will as well.”

What inspired you to write Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile?

Marcia Wells: Four years ago, I’d just finished writing my first (and very terrible) manuscript. I had no idea what to start next, so I was reading a lot of industry articles, things like “What are editors looking for?” (The answer was Middle Grade boy books.) I was also teaching a high school Spanish class where we studied a lot of mystery stories from South America. One day, I woke up and Eddie was there in my brain. He wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote his story.

What were your favorite books as a child? Did you read a lot of detective stories?

MW: I loved the Ramona Quimby series and Judy Blume’s books. As for detective books, I read my mom’s old Nancy Drew mysteries about a million times.

Museums and art are central to your debut work. Do you have a favorite artist or piece of art? (Picasso, perhaps?)

MW: I was lucky enough to work and study in Spain for two years after college. I took a Spanish art history class and fell in love with Picasso’s work … along with that of Velázquez, Goya, and Dalí. It was so cool to study their paintings, and then go see them in real life at the various museums.

What advice would you give to a young reader interested in writing?

MW: Read and write, and read and write some more! It takes a lot of practice, but the journey is so rewarding as you discover new characters and stories in your head. Never, NEVER give up. Rejections will come, but keep at it and enjoy!

Did a particular teacher foster your interest in writing?

MW:  I’ve had a lot of wonderful teachers who pushed me to write better and discover a passion for literature, both in English and Spanish classes. I’d say the people who have taught me the most are the two amazing women in my writers group (they’ve been so influential, I dedicated Eddie to them!). Together we examine each sentence, each chapter to create the best possible story. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

Are you working on anything now?

MW: I am! I just finished a MG/YA fantasy, this time with a girl protagonist. Fingers crossed, I hope to sell it this spring. I’m also in the process of editing Eddie’s second adventure, Mystery in Mayan Mexico.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three titles would you want to have with you?

MW: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and anything YA written by Barry Lyga.

If you were a bookseller, is there a book you would say every child just has to read?

MW: The Harry Potter series. Those books have turned more reluctant readers into voracious readers (including a lot of adults in my family!).

If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be?

MW: J.K. Rowling. Her books were what got me hooked on kids’ literature, and inspired me to pen my own stories.

Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells (HMH Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780544238336). Publication Date: April 1, 2014.

To learn more about Marcia Wells, visit

ABA member stores are invited to use this interview or any others in our series of Q&As With Indies Introduce Debut Authors in newsletters and social media and in online and in-store promotions. Please let us know if you do.