Last week’s round of interviews with our main characters ended tragically, with Steven Dos Santos possibly abducted as he attempted to tease out some information from his protagonist Lucian Spark. How will we possibly fare as we go up against our novels’ villains this week? Let’s hope the Lucky 13s live up to their name.
At least my injuries are likely to be only psychological: I’m interviewing Dr. Charlotte Agford, PhD, a guidance counselor at Luna Vista Middle School in Southern California and the antagonist of my comic middle-grade mystery, THE WIG IN THE WINDOW. While we do know Dr. Agford is an infamously indiscreet school counselor who’s guilty of many crimes against fashion, whether or not she's truly villainous is something tween sleuths Sophie Young and Grace Yang risk their lives — and their friendship — to find out.
Kristen Kittscher: You give a great deal of thought to your appearance. While some might not share your love of Southwestern jewelry, you are always perfectly coiffed and have a particular fondness for color co-ordination. What do you say to the rumors that you've also undergone some serious plastic surgery?
Dr. Charlotte Agford: How interesting, Kristen, that you would pose such an inappropriate question — and choose it as your very first question. I see you have trouble maintaining professional boundaries. Perhaps you’d better look inward and ask yourself why – after I’ve generously granted you my time and opened my home to you —you’re choosing to take advantage of the situation to ask such personal questions.
Kristen: My apologies, Dr. Agford. I thought…
Agford: Please — call me “Dr. A.” Everybody does. [Interviewer's note: by "everyone," Dr. Agford means "only the kids in the club I advise."]
KK: Okay, Dr. A, I thought you might like the opportunity to set the record straight. You see, there’ve been some rumors, too, that you might not be a middle school counselor at all, but rather a dangerous fugitive…
Dr. A: (snort-laughs) Kids and their imaginations! The pre-teen brain is truly a fascinating specimen. Did you know that when presented with a picture a frightened person, 9 out of 10 kids will identify that person’s emotion as anger? It’s not an easy job dealing daily with a population who experiences such a distorted sense of reality. While this is the first time I’ve been accused of murder, I’m not especially surprised. Kids will be kids. I’m here to help them through all the ups and downs, whether they think I’m a fugitive or not.
KK: It sounds like a thankless job. Did you work as a school counselor before you came to Luna Vista Middle School, as well?
Dr. A: Your preoccupation with the past is troubling, Kristen. I think it’s preventing you from living fully in the present moment. I think Eckhart Tolle said it best: “Make the NOW the primary purpose of your life.”
KK: Thank you, I’ll give that some thought. Tell us, how do you make the most of the present?
Dr. A: I enjoy making preserves and pickling root vegetables — especially to give as gifts. Also, I don’t think you’ll find a house better decorated than mine for any holiday. That keeps me busy much of the year. I’ve had a few electrical mishaps with my Christmas lights this season. I’m hoping to sort them out soon. I may need to bring in an extra generator.
KK: Sounds dangerous.
Dr. A: It isn’t. I have experience with electricity.
KK: So I’ve heard. Listen, I thought it might be fitting to play a little word association to close out our interview. I’ll say a word, and you tell me your favorite thing in that category.
Dr. A: I think word association is very helpful in revealing character, Kristen, but I’m afraid that’s not how it works at all. You see, what you should do is —
KK: You know, maybe it’s best we leave it at that, Dr. Agford. Thanks again so much for your time. I wish I could say it’s been a pleasure.
Dr. A: Likewise, Kristen. Likewise.
Kristen Kittscher's debut mystery THE WIG IN THE WINDOW (Harper Children's 2013) follows the comic misadventures of two tween sleuths who suspect their school counselor is a dangerous fugitive -- and just might be right! A former middle school English teacher, Kristen lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband, Kai. When she's not writing, you'll find her running her after-school tutoring business or taking orders from her hopelessly spoiled pets. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or at Sleuths, Spies & Alibis, where she blogs with other YA & MG mystery authors.