Beth McMullen

I was lucky to feature Beth McMullen’s Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series back in 2019. Her new series, starting with LOLA BENKO, TREASURE HUNTER and now its follow-up LOLA BENKO, TREASURE HUNTER: THE MIDNIGHT MARKET, promises to deliver an archeologic romp that readers are sure to enjoy.


Having a world-traversing archaeologist dad means twelve-year-old Lola Benko is used to moving around not putting down roots anywhere. But every day and every hunt for something hidden is an adventure, and no matter what, she and her dad are an unbeatable team.

Then her father disappears. The official story is that he was caught in a flash flood, but Lola’s research shows the day in question was perfectly pleasant. And it will take more than empty reassurances from suspect strangers for Lola to give up on her dad. She has a feeling his disappearance has to do with a mythical stone he was studying—a stone so powerful, it could control the world. But in the wrong hands, it could end it, too…

With the help of some new friends at her school, it’s up to Lola to go on the most important search of her life.



After saving her father and the world, twelve-year-old Lola Benko and her new best friends, Jin and Hannah, are a true treasure-hunting team. But after botching a huge job, they are looking to redeem themselves.

They decide to try their luck at Camp Timberwood, where teams will compete to join the legendary Task Force, a group that gets plumb assignments around the globe. When their former nemesis, Lipstick, shows up unexpectedly, she makes an offer they can’t refuse: help her find the legendary Helm of Darkness and she will help them come out on top in the competition—and be the first team in line for the Task Force.

They just have to go to the mysterious Midnight Market, where the Helm is rumored to be. But Lola, Jin, and Hannah still aren’t fully back in sync after their recent failure. Can they prove to the Task Force—and themselves—that they still have what it takes?


In our last interview, you first introduced us to Lola Benko as being part of a story called “How to Find Lost Things.” Can you tell us about the title change to this series, and how the kernel of Lola’s story originally came to you?

This is a great question! Title changes are common in publishing. While an author may have assigned a title to a work, it is very likely that the publisher’s sales and marketing team will want to change it to help position the book more successfully in the marketplace. The feeling was ‘How to Find Lost Things’ sounded a little more Young Adult than Middle Grade so we made the change. When I was writing the manuscript, the document title was simply ‘Lola’ which made it easy to start thinking about it as ‘Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter’.

On the other hand, I have a Middle Grade fantasy series launching in March 2022. The official title of that series is The Secret of the Storm but my manuscript document title was Cats & Dragons and I still can’t stop calling it that!

At the end of the day, I’m pretty awful at coming up with titles so I’m always grateful when the publisher does the hard work for me.

Okay, so I want the Cats & Dragons story like now (meow)! The sequel in the Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter series takes Lola to a mysterious place called the Midnight Market. Without giving away spoilers, in what ways did Lola’s world expand in ways you didn’t expect?

I fell in love with the Midnight Market! I want to go there! I can SEE it so clearly in my head, a wild, slightly lawless place full of unusual people and magical things. It has such a great vibe!

Sequels are always harder for me than origin stories. I wanted Lola to push up against new and different obstacles in her desire to become a real treasure hunter. This meant I needed to take her further afield. Having to unravel the mystery of the Midnight Market, having to find it in the first place, launched her and her friends into the core adventure of this story. What surprised me is how much Lola came into her own along the way. I purposely started the novel right after a massive treasure hunting failure so the kids had to work through the ramifications of that while also trying to successfully hunt down the Helm of Darkness. Lola had multiple challenges to face in this second installation of the series, and she managed to pull it off.

Sounds like a fun adventure! I love the creative writing mini-lessons you have on your website. What is one of your favorite writing exercises and why?

I had so much fun with those lessons! When my kids were in elementary school, I ran a creative writing club after school for interested students. The kids were funny and smart and so creative, it was really a great experience to take a peek into their thoughts.

Because I write fiction, I like to sometimes just sit down and write a personal piece. It’s not journaling exactly because I don’t do it regularly and the writing is usually about something specific. For example, I wrote something over the summer about the incredibly ridiculous things parents shout to their children from the sidelines of the soccer field. Stuff like ‘run faster’. What? I think they know that.

Anyway, the piece is funny and was fun to write but this sort of stuff is just for me and not likely to see the light of day.

“Run faster!” Ha! If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?

Buy Apple! Just kidding.

I’ve only very recently figured out that ‘success’ is fluid and does not travel in a linear trajectory. Some days, success is writing a few thousand words. Other days, it is making sure my kids have stuff to put in their lunch boxes. If there is balance between those kinds of days, I am doing fine. We are all only human and being less hard on ourselves and accepting that low points will happen can be a great act of kindness.


Buy: ~ Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound



Buy: ~ Book Passage ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Indiebound


For Beth McMullen’s other books, go to

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