1. Why do you write what you do?
I’ve always been drawn to international stories—spy novels and thrillers in particular. But when I was a kid there were no international children’s stories available. So now I write stories that I would have wanted to read when I was ten, eleven, and twelve. My novels are set in international locales because travel has made me feel alive and given me an insatiable curiosity to learn.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
In three big ways. One, it’s realistic fiction. There are no dragons, no magic; it’s just kids solving problems created by adults. Two, with more than 100 geographic terms, the book has a strong travel theme. “It’s like a quick trip to Paris.” Thirdly, the book is kid appropriate—“no sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll,” or guns. It works well for adults reading to kids. #WeNeedDiverseBooks
3. How do you promote your work to the middle grade audience?
Middle grade is challenging since the sales pitch is twofold. Your customers (children) are not necessarily the buyers (parents). So in essence, you have to sell the book twice. To this end, I teach, speak, and read at schools, bookstores, and libraries all over. I also use the usual social media suspects: Twitter: Crime Travelers @paulaertker, Google+ PaulAertker, the website: crimetravelers.com, and of course, Amazon and local bookstores. The full Q&A interview can be found online here.