About Sarah Rubin

Sarah Rubin is the author of "Dreamer Ballerina", the story of Casey Quinn a South Carolina girl who dreams of being a dancer in New York City, and the "Alice Jones Mysteries", about a girl who uses her love of numbers and logical mind to solve some truly tricky mysteries. Sarah grew up in the United States, but now she lives in Hampshire with her husband, two children and an action-cat named Hamish.

Alice Jones: The Ghost Light

The second Alice Jones book is finished. Well, sort of.  Writing is a long process that involves A LOT of rewriting, editing, tinkering and back and forth between me (the writer) and my editors (the lovely Rachel and Kesia from Chicken House). I wrote about the many (many, many to the power of ten) stages of the editing process here.

BUT, the biggest hurdle for me is getting that first complete draft and making all the major changes to make sure the plot works, all the clues are there and no characters fall out of the book at the halfway point. And THAT task is done. Now it is on to the fun tweaking and tidying and adding more spooky bits and all the math analogies Alice loves to use.

image002It also has a glorious cover, designed by Helen Crawford-White.

Alice Jones: The Ghost Light is all about the mysterious goings-on at The Beryl Theater. Della is convinced an evil spirit is haunting the show: Alice doesn’t believe in ghosts and sets out to find the human behind the disturbances. As Alice investigates The Beryl’s past, she discovers another unsolved mystery, the disappearance of a fabulous diamond. Could the two cases be connected?

Alice Jones:The Ghost Light will be published January 2017. (So I better get back to fixing up all the details!)

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The Impossible Clue gets an American Cover

I love getting new covers for my books!!!

One of the most exciting things for me when my first book, Dreamer Ballerina, was published was seeing all of the different covers it got in different countries. (You can see them all here.) And now it’s Alice’s turn.

Alice Jones: The Impossible Clue will be published in the US January 2017. It’s still a long ways off (I wrote about the lengthy publishing process here and here), but I’m excited to share the fab American Hardcover illustration. It was designed by Melissa Manwill (you can see more of her work here) who did an amazing job capturing the story.

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Isn’t it stunning?!

If you’ve read the book, you’ll see all sorts of clues in the illustration. If you haven’t you can pre-order your copy of the American edition  OR if you can’t wait, you can get the UK edition right now! (What’s the difference? Well the UK edition has a lot more U’s in it, and a lift instead of an elevator, and pavements instead of sidewalks, but the story and the solution are the same!)

Derian Dreams Bedtime Story Collection

Audiobookcover

Last year my friend Mark Lowery got in touch with me and a bunch of other children’s authors. He was writing a short story for children’s charity Derian House to record as a bedtime audiobook and wanted to know if we wanted in. We did!

Derian House is a wonderful charity, providing palliative and respite care for children with life shortening conditions. This audiobook is part of their 2016 Great Derian Dream Campaign, aiming to give each family with a child in their care an extra night of respite care.

 

Here’s the full line up of stories and authors and amazing readers!

1-Rotten Robbin And The Crooked Cutlass written by George Kirk, read by Ted Robbins
2-Dizzy Dog written by Alan Durant, read by Dave Spikey
3-The Smelly Unicorn written by Natasha Desborough, read by Julie Hesmondalgh
4-Rosie And The Tooth Fairy written by Sarah Rubin, read by Jenny Platt
5-Pickles First Flight written by Jo Dearden, read by Jane Horrocks
6-Scaredy Bat written and read by Jonathan Meres
7-Keep An Eye On The Baby written by Mark Lowery, read by Steve Pemberton
8-Amy Warburton’s Most Unusual Pet written by Steve Hartley, read by Connie Hartley
9-Poems written and read by Ian Bland
10-Siegfried And The Snoring Snarflebeast Of Sevenoaks written by Mo O’hara, read by Susie Poppitt

11-He Should Have Listened To Granddad written by Steve Hartley, read by Danny Cipriani & Mark Cueto

AND the beautiful cover illustration was donated by Nick Sharratt (that’s right, I’m in a book illustrated by Nick Sharratt…shhh, let me bask)


I had so much fun writing my short story, Rosie and the Tooth Fairy, about a girl who wants to know what the Tooth Fairy actually does with all those teeth anyway? It’s narrated by the wonderful actress Jenny Platt (best known as Violet Wilson from Coronation Street) who is a blast to listen to.

You can get a copy of just my story OR the whole lot from amazon or itunes. All proceeds go to Derian House.

Alice Jones’ Cryptic Quip

One of Alice Jones’ favorite pastimes is doing the Cryptic Quip in the Philadelphia Daily News (where her dad is the top Crime Reporter). I made up the name of the newspaper and the puzzle, but it is based on the Cryptoquote from the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the summers, I used to try to sneak the paper so I could get to it before my dad (although crosswords are my real favorite).

In honor of Alice, here is a Cryptic Quip for you to try your hand at:

 

“JAGM’L DU PGKVCRMF MARBI MV WV? R XREF LVXKRBI NYTTXFL, FLNFHRGXXU DGMAFDGMRHGX VBFL. MAFU’CF MAF QFLM!” – GXRHF OVBFL

Alphabet
The puzzle is based on a replacement cipher. I’ve taken the alphabet and scrambled it, assigning each letter in the alphabet a new random replacement letter.  I’ve given you two letters to get you started (A=G and M=D). Your job is to crack the code and unscramble the message.

If you get stuck, check out Puzzle Corner for some tips and tricks for solving Cryptic Quips. OR if you get really stuck, click here for a walkthrough…

Happy sleuthing!

North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards

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Last week, I got the news that Alice Jones: The Impossible Clue had been longlisted for the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards in the ‘Moving On’ category. The longlist is packed with great titles, and I’m on there with them. How exciting!
MovingOnExI’m super proud to be a part of this new category. I didn’t start reading for fun until I was eight, but took off like a rocket when I did. I was always looking for a challenge, a book with a bit more meat. But I had NO interest in teen themes. (If I’m honest, I didn’t really have any interest in ‘teen themes’ until I was almost halfway through them myself). I wanted a good read about family and friendship, adventure and mystery.

I’d never really put it together before, but the books I write now I write for the 10-year-old version of me.Books starring smart, self-assured girls full of bravery and determination having amazing adventures and making their dreams come true. And it’s an honor that the North Somerset Teachers who put The Impossible Clue on the longlist would recommend it to another reader in my shoes.

What My Characters Get From Me

I often get asked where my characters come from. To be honest, I’m not always completely sure. In my first book, Casey Quinn leapt (or jetéd) out of nowhere when I was doing a writing prompt. Alice Jones came from my desire to write a detective story, but almost all of my characters have a little bit of me in them-things I like, bad habits, interests, fears, and other odd quirks.

Here are a few examples of the things I share with some of the characters from my latest book.


 

Alice Jones: My hardboiled detective gets her love of math from me. I was no genius, but I found geometry and algebra so satisfying. I especially loved factoring equations. Alice’s interests have given me an excuse to brush up on my math skills.

Kevin Jordan: Charming enough to get out of most of the trouble he makes for himself, I have very little in common with Kevin (I was the good kid with a guilty conscience, even though I never did anything wrong). But he has a sensible streak I’m happy to take credit for.

Sammy Delgado Jr: Sammy gets his relentless optimism from me, but I hope I manage to keep mine from being quite so annoying.

Arthur Jones: Alice’s Dad and a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News. He likes to chug water from a sports bottle while he writes, like he’s running a marathon. My friends used to tease me about this in college, and I still do it today.

Delores Jones (AKA Della Lynn): Alice’s twin sister and rising theater star. Alice might not share Della’s love of the stage, but I did! I was an active drama club member in elementary and high school. Alice Jones:Book 2 is set in a theater and I’m having so much fun writing all about life backstage.

Dr. Adrian Learner: The scientist who disappears is based on my time interning at The Jackson Laboratory when I was 17.

Virginia Lynn: Alice’s mom. We don’t see much of her in The Impossible Clue but we do know she’s a costume designer. She gets that from me. I love sewing big elaborate dresses. I once went dumpster diving at a hardware store so I could get the metal strapping they use to tie planks of wood together so I could make my own hoop skirts and bustles.

 

Let Books be Books

I grew up in the eighties, which was a great time to be a kid. I wore bright colors and ran around in the woods, loved dressing up my barbies (both new and hand-me-downs from my mom), dressing up myself, playing in my tree-fort and riding bikes around the block (well, cul-de-sac…I had no sense of direction and got lost the one time I tried to do round the block for real).

 

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Flannel lined jeans-a Maine fashion staple

I can’t remember once thinking that there was anything I couldn’t do because I was a girl or that there were things that were meant for boys and not for me.

 

Is this because the eighties was a better time? Or because my parents made sure I had non-gendered toys? Or because I had that special kind of dense self-confidence that meant it simply never occurred to me that I couldn’t be anything I wanted to be and anyone who said different was so much white noise? I don’t know.

Now it’s 2016. I have a son, and I’m worried because I keep seeing lists of ‘books for boys’ and they seem to be saying that if a book is about a girl, it isn’t for him. Like the girls have a secret club and he’s not allowed!

If someone had told me I couldn’t read books about boys when I was a kid, I would have looked at them like they had two heads. I mean The Hobbit, The Phantom Tollbooth, Where the Wild Things Are, The Book of Three, I loved ALL of those books. Will my son have to miss out on Matilda or Harriet the Spy or Ruby Redfort?

I’m being a bit tongue in cheek, because he’s only five and currently loves reading anything he can get his hands on. And I hope he’ll continue to read widely as he grows up. But I do worry that the people who market books are putting up walls between boys and girls  without really thinking about it and the harm it can do.

Reading about people different from ourselves is a huge part of building compassion, empathy and understanding. I remember reading Melvin Burgess’s Doing It when I was in my early 20s and just going ‘ah ha’ so that’s what the boys were going through in high school! It was a revelation, and I wish I’d read it as a teen. AND I hope that my son is that age he’ll read books about what girls are going through so he can understand them.

So this is me, as a writer, reader and a parent adding my little voice to the crowd asking publishers and marketers and everyone building lists of books for boys to Let Books Be Books. Let kids find the stories that interest them without narrowing their choices by adding labels that really don’t need to be there.


If you are interested in reading more about this subject, here are a few links:

Let Books Be Books

Unsuitable for Boys by Tamsyn Murray

My Boy and His Books by Tessa

Boys Could Enjoy Stories About Girls and Vice Versa If We’d Only Let Them by Robin Stevens

How Do We Get More Boys Reading (Clue: Boy Books Aren’t the Answer) by Tricia

 

Boys vs Girls by Shannon Marie Jones