Interview sponsored* by J. Peter Clifford.
The Children’s Book Review | May 7, 2015
The Children’s Book Review: Sophie and The Finn: Secret of the Box is the second book in your mystery series about Erica Stafford—a spunky seventh grader who has premonitions and often finds herself embroiled in risky adventures—and her two loyal dogs, Sophie and The Finn. Your story and characters are nicely developed; can you tell us about the inspiration behind Erica and her dogs?
J. Peter Clifford: Sure! Sophie and The Finn are my daughter’s two pups and are a big part of her life and our family as well. I thought that it would be kind of fun to develop a story around them and a young adventurous girl, who has a knack for finding intrigue and a mystery where ever she spends time.
It’s summer break and Erica, along with her best friend Abby, heads to the Jersey Shore to stay with her aunt for two weeks. Upon their arrival, the town is abuzz with news of a gang of jewel thieves that have broken into a museum in New York. What gave you the idea for the gang of jewel thieves?
It actually started with finding a mysterious box and then I had to decide what the box held inside. I thought a rare or famous jewel could be interesting and then built the story around the jewel.
And why did you choose the Jersey Shore for this setting?
Mostly because I’m familiar with the Jersey Shore and Erica originally was from New Jersey prior to her family moving to Vermont, which is the scene for the first book.
When the girls find the mysterious locked box in the sand, they realize that it must be a missing artifact from the New York robbery. The two girls quickly begin piecing snippets of information together—the mystery unfolds in a well-paced manner. What is your process for creating mystery and leading readers on with just the right amount of bait to keep them turning pages?
I’ve always enjoyed mysteries because of the anticipation created. You find a clue and are compelled to seek out the next clue, kind of like putting a puzzle together. My wife is a 5th grade teacher and advised me that a good story is all about, problem—solution, problem—solution.
Erica and Abby enlist the help of Jake, a good-looking eighth grade boy, to help them solve the mystery and lead the FBI to the thieves. Why did you feel Jake was an important character to add to the story?
I felt that adding a boy to the group would make it interesting, since their emotions and thought process are different than girls, and the interaction at that age is pure and honest. Also it could increase the readership.
Sophie and The Finn: Secret of the Box is chock-full of action and suspense. There are thieves hiding in a hotel room with guns, FBI agents, and even a kidnapping. How do you decide on the level of danger to include in your stories?
Great question! I pondered that a great deal and tried to keep it more suspenseful with the threat of danger, but not describing injury or physical harm.
What should we expect to see next from Sophie and The Finn?
Not sure right now, perhaps the further development of Erica’s extra sensory gift, or the inclusion of her two pups deeper into the next mystery.
Do you ever receive feedback from your readers? If so, can you share what they have to say?
Being a new author, I’m still in the process of marketing my books and trying to gain some exposure. I’ve done something that I don’t believe any author has before; on the last page of my book I’ve added a page asking the reader to comment on the story and add it to my website.
Do you have any other books planned that don’t include Erica and her pups?
Haha, actually I do, something that I’ve pondered and developed over the years, growing up shy as a child, I’ve developed a theory/practice that might assist others as they navigate through their life/career.
Finally, is there anything else we should know about your Sophie and The Finn series that we haven’t asked and you wished we had?
Just stay tuned for the next mystery and don’t forget to visit my website: sophieandthefinn.com
Sophie and The Finn: Secret of the Box is Available Here:
About J. Peter Clifford
Peter Clifford currently lives in West Caldwell, New Jersey where he has spent most of his life, attending primary and secondary schools in and around the northern NJ area.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. Francis College in Pennsylvania, which was followed by a three year tour in the United States Marine Corps as an officer.
He is married to his wife, Carol, a 5th grade teacher, whom he met on a blind date, and has three children, Erica, Stephen, and Matthew. Growing up, the family spent many happy summers in Vermont both as a child and later as a parent.
After a successful business career in both operations and human resources, where he further developed his writing skills, he has returned to pursue his lifelong passion—writing.
The inspiration and subject of his books come from his daughter’s two dogs Sophie and Finn, who have been a constant source of enjoyment and companionship. He also draws on his lifetime of personal experiences to inject details and information into the plot of his stories to provide the reader with a sense of anticipation and participation.
In his spare time he enjoys traveling, fly fishing, and spending time with his expanding family.
The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This interview with J. Peter Clifford about “Sophie and The Finn: Secret of the Box” was sponsored*. Learn more about marketing books and finding an Author Showcase book marketing plan that is right for you …