Quintette of Questions: Jenny Blackford

Today I ask Jenny Blackford five questions about her new book!

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

It’s called The Girl in the Mirror, because it all started with a story of two girls seeing  each other through an oval mirror on the wall of the bedroom that they both live in, in an inner-city terrace house, over 100 years apart. (Even before that, it started with a very old oval mirror in our old terrace house, in which I always half-expected to see something not in the room.)

The working title was Dead Girl in the Mirror, which I changed after some workshopping with helpful SCBWI authors. They thought it might put book-buying gatekeepers off, though probably not the 8 to 12 year old target demographic.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Felicity Kendall at around 12 years old would make a wonderful modern Maddy – sweet, enthusiastic, caring, idealistic, perhaps a little apt to be picked on, but working through that to a spirited defiance.

And I need someone dark-haired, determined and smart, for Clarissa, who is 14 in the 1890s. Someone who will mutter under her breath at her tyrannical Aunt Lily, and jump to the conclusion that Lily is a serial poisoner, and that redback spiders are her evil henchmen. And who will smile indulgently at the ghost of her dead brother Bertie clattering up and down the stairs, laughing. Dare I ask for the young Elizabeth Taylor? She could stamp her feet magnificently as Clarissa.

3. What five words best describe your story?

A spidery, ghostly, suspenseful, middle-grade mystery

4. Who is your favourite fictional team/couple?

Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane (from Dorothy Sayers). Though I also have a soft spot for Morse and Lewis, and Lewis and Hathaway. Also Vera and whatever unfortunate subordinate she is growling at in any series.

5. What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

Given the plague of redback spiders that are evil Aunt Lily’s allies, who could go past Boris the Spider, by The Who?

About The Girl in the Mirror

The Davitt award judges said, “Separated by more than a hundred years, and brought together through a mysterious mirror, Maddy and Clarissa provide comfort and wisdom at a time when they feel desperately alone. The girls band together to defeat a creeping evil that threatens the lives of their families.

The Girl in the Mirror is a refreshingly contemporary time-slip mystery. Maddy and Clarissa are intensely relatable with their shared frustrations at the way in which they are dismissed by the adults in their lives. Jenny Blackford has captured the pains of early adolescence – loneliness, fear, uncertainty – in a gripping mystery that is perfectly pitched to the middle readers who will love it.”

Buy The Girl in the Mirror

About Jenny Blackford

Jenny is a Newcastle-based author and poet. Her middle-grade historical mystery The Girl in the Mirror appeared from Eagle Books in 2019, and won the 2020 Davitt Award for Best Children’s Crime Novel.

Her poems and stories for children are regularly published in the School Magazine, and have appeared in Our Home is Dirt by Sea: Australian Poetry for Australian KidsStories for Nine Year Olds and other great anthologies.

Pitt Street Poetry has published three collections of her poetry: The Loyalty of Chickens and The Duties of a Cat, both suitable for people aged 11+, and The Alpaca Cantos, suitable for adults and Young Adults. Her poetry awards include firsts in the Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Poetry and the Humorous Verse section of the  Henry Lawson awards (twice).

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