Boys, Ball Gowns, and Murder

Author Sarah MacLean talks about her new teen novel of murder and intrigue

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Boys, ball gowns, and murder are words used to describe The Season, a new young adult novel by first-time author Sarah MacLean.  The Season is a mystery novel with a bright and spunky young heroine—Alexandra (Alex)—who must solve a murder with the help of her friends, Vivi, and Ella. The catch? This novel of rebellious upper-class teens is set in Regency England, where nice, well-bred ladies do not solve murders!
MacLean's inspiration came from reading Jane Austen, she told Scholastic News. As a teenager, she fell in love with the Regency time period.

The Regency period lasted from 1811 to 1820, during the time that the Prince of Wales (the future King George IV) acted as regent, or stand-in, for King George III. George III needed a regent because he was insane and not fit to rule. The time period is known for its elegance among the upper class and scandal in the Royal Family.  It also marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
"I always knew that if I ever wrote a book it would be set in a Regency time period," said MacLean, who is a big fan of romance and historic novels.

Even though the American author's book takes place in England, the only real research she had to do was in respect to the time period. Her mother is from England and she spent summers growing up in England.

"I knew the English countryside well, which made it easy to write about Alex's country house in Essex," she said.
London is her favorite city.

"I've been there a number of times and spent time in the places and streets where the girls live and shop and play, like Hyde Park and Bond Street and Almack's," she said.

sarah maclean
Sarah Maclean, author of The Season. (Photo: Rupert Whiteley)

Writing a book is something that MacLean has always wanted to do—a lifelong dream. Although at times she had doubts, she learned that if she put all her passion and energy into the book, it would succeed.
"Finally reaching that goal has been an amazing experience," she said, as she begins her rounds of book signings, readings, and interviews.
One of MacLean's many writing talents is her ability to make dialogue come alive. MacLean recommended that writers wanting to strengthen their dialogue writing skills pay attention to great dialogue on TV and in films and plays. More importantly is to analyze both the verbal and non-verbal things that happen in real conversations.
"This will help your dialogue seem more natural and interesting," she said.
In The Season many lovable characters make their debut. Choosing a favorite is hard, especially for the author!

 "They're like my children," she said. "I really don't have one favorite." She then admitted that she personally identifies with Ella, the academic dreamer.

The Season is an exciting new novel that will keep you guessing (and rooting for Alex and her friends) until the very end.

And for those soon-to-be fab fans of the snooping girls in ball gowns, don't worry—this is only the beginning of a planned trilogy of books, each focusing on a different member of the trio.


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