One day, Clare Havens, Australia-based author of The Bella Street Mysteries, did an online search of Bella Street and found Yours Truly! She reached out to me and we've struck up a three-way, trans-continental friendship--three-way, because my 12 yo daughter just might be her biggest fan!
Clare describes her middle-grade novels as 'tween-noir', which just might be the coolest genre invention EVER. Her books are clever, funny, fast-paced, twisty-turny, noir goodness. The first book in the series, The Secret Formula, was runner up in the Sydney Woollahra Lit Fest!
Now that Book 2 of the Bella Street Mysteries is out, I asked Clare to pop over for an interview.
I coined the term ‘tween noir’ to try and encapsulate the feeling of a gritty, dark, suspenseful thriller for young people where there is a sense of very real danger but where the villains are 1930s style gangsters and so much larger than life that they are not something real tweens would have to worry about. It isn’t ‘noir’ in the true sense of the genre but more of a noirish romp! I am a huge fan of the ‘Thin Man’ series of movies based on the books of Dashiell Hammett and starring William Powell and Myrna Loy – these movies were noirish yet had great humor in them too.
I agree. The books are laugh-out-loud funny!
What kind of girl is Bella Street?
Bella is the 12 year old daughter of a very rich and glamorous woman who has made some dangerous enemies in her position as Editor of Gorgeous Me! Fashion magazine. Bella is a very down to earth, sporty girl who thinks her Mom’s obsession with fashion is ridiculous but who, at the same time, secretly makes her own clothes out of her mom’s vintage home furnishings! Bella is a bit of a loner and only has one true friend, Felix Samson, who is a film noir loving, jazz piano playing, tech genius who wants to be a PI in the manner of Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe. This odd pair has been best friends since Kindergarten and they have a very tight bond. Bella is extremely brave and daring and Felix is clever and loyal.
Felix has helped Bella out of some very tight spots!
How many stories do you have planned in the series? I notice each of the skylines on the book covers represent Bella's latest adventures. I hope you keep 'em coming!
I have three books planned but then only yesterday I started thinking about possibly writing the ’prequel’ to ‘The Secret Formula’ so who knows!
That is so hard as I love all of them! I suppose my favorites are Felix and Emerald. Felix is such a lovely guy, so loyal and completely lost in his noir world! Emerald, Bella’s mom is just so over the top selfish and huge fun to write! There is more to Emerald than meets the eye, however, and I really enjoyed drawing that out of her in ‘Doc Gutson’s Revenge’! I also really love writing about the two henchman, Johnny Sequins, failed fashion designer turned gangster and Pauly Three Toes, former male model turned sadistic killer. I see them so clearly when I am writing and I have a big soft spot for them even though they are dangerous, bad men.
Outside of Bella, who's your favorite character and why? I have to admit mine is Emerald. I wish I WAS her! LOL
You write under Bacon and Eggs Media. What's the Aussie writing/publishing experience?
So that means we Americans need to be buying these book up in bulk! Seriously, if you know of any middle grade readers, get them these books. They're sure to be a hit. Even this mom loved 'em. Hmmm...a new genre 'mom-noir', perchance?
Clare's latest title is Doc Gutson's Revenge, and it's available at
I love this book! My daughter loves this book! If you're looking for quirky, scary-but-charming, middle grade mystery read, grab this book and share with all the kids you know. We need to keep Bella on the streets, solving mysteries and fighting crime!
Thanks, Clare, for stopping by! I'm glad my namesake is such a rockin' chick!
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