John Gaspard is author of the Eli Marks mystery series and the Como Lake Players mystery series. His most recent fiction book is a prequel to his Eli Marks series, The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks. The Middle Grade book introduces us to thirteen-year-old Eli and explores how he came to the world of magic and magicians.
Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write it?
The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks is a middle-grade book that’s actually a prequel to my nine-book Eli Marks cozy mystery series; in that series, Eli is a working magician in his thirties.
In The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks, we meet Eli at age thirteen, just as he is getting into magic. During the course of the book, Eli solves ten mysteries (and, like the Encyclopedia Brown books, the reader can solve the mystery along with Eli). And then, in the back of the book, the reader can learn the ten magic tricks that Eli learned over the course of the story.
I wrote this book with the hope of creating a middle-grade series that would help kids get interested in magic while also having the fun of solving mysteries.
Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Because I’m not actually a magician in real life, I needed to spend considerable time learning about the ins and outs of being a magician when I wrote the Eli Marks series. However, for The Curious Mysteries of Eli Marks, I really only needed to remember what it was like being thirteen and being a new kid in a new school.
Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing?
I’m a big fan of Lawrence Block; his Burglar series of mysteries was a big influence on the Eli Marks series. More recently, I’ve been very impressed by Anthony Horowitz and his various mystery series.
Has a library or librarian impacted your life or your writing life?
The Linden Hills library was like a second home when I was growing up—easily accessible by foot or by bike. And they had all the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown books to boot!
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
My wife I and enjoy walking and biking, as well as watching British mysteries about murders in small, quaint villages.
Favorite place to go to in Minnesota (i.e., restaurant, park, museum, etc.)?
I’m a big fan of all the bike trails that crisscross the Twin Cities and all of its suburbs.
Do you have a website or social media channels (X, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?
For my Eli Marks series, I do a podcast where you can listen to audiobook versions of several of the books for free. It’s called “Behind the Page: The Eli Marks Podcast,” and you can find it wherever you get your podcasts. We’re in our fourth season and have had amazing guests, like Dick Cavett, The Amazing Kreskin, and Teller (of Penn & Teller).