Sherrill Joseph tells us about the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries


Welcome to author and former teacher Sherrill Joseph!

Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

She has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries with children and adult characters of various abilities, races, cultures, and interests. Sherrill strongly believes that children need to find not only themselves in books but others from different races and social situations if all are to become accepting, anti-racist world citizens. She also feels that kids are amazing human beings who don’t tend to get enough credit from some adults for their blossoming insights and intelligence.

The author created her detectives—patterned after her own fifth-grade students and twelve-year-old twin cousins—to be mature, smart, polite role models that will appeal to parents, teachers, but especially to kids who seek the courage and self-respect needed to realize their greatest potential.

Joseph and her book Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets are the recent recipients of the Gold Award from Mom’s Choice Awards for Juvenile Fiction, and the Gold Award from Moonbeams Children’s Book Awards for Pre-Teen Fiction in Mystery. She is a member of SCBWI and the Authors Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.

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Tell us about your life outside of writing.

Pre-pandemic, I enjoyed playing tennis, working out and taking yoga, going to movies, and walking on the beach and lunching with friends. Now, I mostly stay home and read, watch old movies, putz around the house and garden, and snuggle or walk my adorable poodle-bichon rescue Jimmy Lambchop. I try to work out with weights in a nearby park with some neighbors while socially distancing. I actually like the alone time. What writer doesn't?

Do you have a work in progress?

Book 4, Saffron Street: Island Danger, in the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries. (Book 3, Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, is completed and up next for publishing.)

What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote?

What made it difficult? In Book 4, when a character who is usually the comedian of the squad shares his heartbreak over his mother's death in a car accident. I am working on it currently. I have to break down his happy-go-lucky facade to allow him to let his feelings out.

What type of research do you do for your books?

Research tends to involve reading books or articles I find and taking notes. Sometimes, I interview experts such as a snake venom evolutionist at an Australian university for Book 1. For Book 2, I had to read up on gemstones of antiquity. In Book 3, I did much research on the first Black American sheriff Bass Reeves, and information about gold mining. For Book 4, I am continuing to research about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, pearls, and Japanese culture, language, and folklore.

Which books and authors do you read for pleasure?

Is there an author that inspires you? I read a wide variety of genres and authors--but mostly the classics like the Bronte sisters, Conan Doyle, duMaurier, and Wilkie Collins (hey, I was an English major!), mysteries, memoir, biographies, and historical fiction. I am currently enjoying Erica Ruth Neubauer, Victoria Price, George Takei, and Hazel Gaynor. I am very awed by Gaynor's use of figurative language and description and want to imitate that in my work.

Was there a person who encouraged you to write?

I had a series of wonderful English teachers throughout school and into college. Two who stand out were my English professors at San Diego State University: the late Harold Kahler, Ph.D, who was an Edgar Allan Poe fan, and the late Elizabeth Chater, who was also a SCI-FI, romance published author. 



 Kids, get ready to meet your four new heroes and role models.

Come help them solve their first case!

World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Winston Thornsley died suddenly two months ago in disgrace. His widow, Ida Thornsley, remains convinced her husband was falsely accused of stealing an ancient burial urn he discovered in Egypt last summer, but local and federal law enforcement officers are stumped.

Mrs. Thornsley, desperate for answers, calls in her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Moki Kalani, and Rani Kumar. Their exciting mission? To find the urn and its real thief, bring the criminal to justice, and exonerate Dr. Thornsley so his spotless reputation can be restored.

A roomful of venomous snakes, the poisoned Egyptian pond, and Dragon Pit Man are just a few of the tests awaiting the four tech-savvy teenagers. As the detectives begin to unravel the sinister plot, the mystery takes a dangerous turn. Answers are at their fingertips—if they can only convince their parents to let them solve the case.

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In 1945, Isabela de Cordoba’s great-grandfather, the famous silent movie actor Lorenzo de Cordoba, mysteriously hid a legendary, multimillion-dollar emerald somewhere on the family’s sprawling Eucalyptus Street estate. Seventy years later, the gem remains concealed. Nicknamed the “Green Curse,” the emerald is blamed for the Southern California familia’s numerous, untimely deaths.

On her twenty-first birthday, Isabela receives a secret letter with a cryptic poem. These documents from the long-deceased Lorenzo invite her to hunt for the gemstone. But first, she must decipher the poem’s six stanzas for clues.

To assist, Isabela hires her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the four Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, and their best friends, Moki Kalani and Rani Kumar. Eerie footsteps inside the mansion, unexplained occurrences in the adjacent cemetery, and the mysterious tenant in the backyard casita challenge them. But they ingeniously make progress on the poem’s meaning with startling discoveries. Sliding wall panels, a secret room, and hidden passages reveal much. The detectives aren’t the only ones looking for the emerald. The perilous race for the de Cordoba treasure is on! 

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