Double Vision by Colorado Springs author F.T. Bradley is at the center of Campus Middle School’s “1 Book 1 Campus.” Photos by Peter Jones
BY PETER JONES
The Mona Lisa’s double. The intrigue of Paris. A lost pre-teen spy.
They are all part of Double Vision, the paperback at the center of Campus Middle School’s annual “1 Book 1 Campus” program, in which the entire school is encouraged to read the same novel, and a guest appearance from the author helps bring the story to life.
“We wanted to do a Colorado author this year, and once we heard the premise [of Double Vision], we were like, that’s great for middle school,” said Derek Phelan, Campus’s teacher-librarian. “We really try to find books that appeal to everyone, especially reluctant boys who don’t like to read. This had action and spy thriller all over it.”
Colorado Springs-based author F.T. Bradley is well qualified to spin a yarn about an American kid causing trouble and intrigue in Europe. Born and raised in the Netherlands, her accent has weathered the storms of France, Mississippi and now the Rocky Mountain state.
Author Fleur Bradley was encouraged to use her initials, so as not to scare off boys.
Author F.T. Bradley encourages aspiring authors with her personal mantra: “I can totally do that.
Her 244-page 2012 tome, Double Vision, was the first in a series about the adventures of pre-teen spy Linc Baker. With its European backdrop and classic-art mysteries, the book has been likened to a Da Vinci Code for kids.
“Obviously, it’s kind of a crazy story for a kid to be a spy, but I got to have some fun with it and that was pretty cool,” she told a library full of middle-schoolers last week. “They said they wanted James Bond for kids, [but] one of the things I don’t like about all the spy movies is the girls are kind of damsels in distress or they’re just there to be pretty—so the girls in the book, they kick some butt.”
Bradley later took some time to talk with The Villager about her “1 Book” and the “1 Campus” that has temporarily turned its school into a mysterious City of Lights.
Villager: Is this your first event of this kind?
Bradley: Yes, it’s really cool and I love that they totally get it. You have to make it a community thing where they’re talking about the book. It’s a social connection.
Villager: What do you learn about your own work by talking about it with young readers?
Bradley: They are so excited about the gadgets and they come up with all these ideas. They love the story and they all get caught up into it. I get a lot of fan mail from kids, like “You need to write another book and I figured out what you should write,” and they’re super creative. I like that it sparks their own imaginations.
Villager: What are the challenges of writing for this audience? You have a lot of competition—not just from other authors, when you consider the lure of electronic devices.
Greenwood Village’s Campus Middle School goes Paris.
Bradley: The thing about boys is they tend to not want to read anything with a girl on the cover. Girls will read the other way around, but to appeal to boys is very difficult. As a writer, I like action. I like mystery. My writing has always been on that side anyway, so it was easy for me to write for kids that are reluctant readers because I’m kind of a reluctant reader myself. It’s really important to capture boys, particularly at this age. If you can keep them reading now and associate reading with fun like TV and everything else, that’s what you really need.
Villager: You put a lot of historical backdrop into your books. Is that a subliminal way to teach history?
Bradley: It’s nice to connect a historical figure like George Washington [in a previous book], who looks super boring and kids fall asleep just looking at him. I want to show that he was a really cool guy in his day. That’s what I want to connect kids with, to think of those periods of history and those people as exciting figures that can be like them.
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