Robin’s books have many fantastic things about them, but a particularly striking element of Death in the Spotlight is that, as well as having a significant queer main character, that character is not isolated. Daisy gets to see multiple examples of adults and peers, like Miss Crompton and her partner, living fully formed, complex, emotional queer lives. The importance of role models for the young queer community cannot be overstated, and is something that is not shown enough.
The hints that Robin has peppered through her stories about Daisy’s sexuality have been fun to spot. In previous books, Daisy’s hero worship has focused on the Big Girls she admires at school, teachers, and young women that demand respect. It is in Death in the Spotlight where these hints blossom into something more. Reading the first draft meant I got to help Robin paint a more colourful picture. I suggested moments where she’d be distracted by Martita, moments that might cause her pause, distress or simple admiration. I helped give Daisy the chance to have butterflies, and become the worried young romantic she’s so scorned in others.
Our young readers are keen to see themselves and their peers in the stories that they read. They’re perceptive, curious, interested, open-minded and they want to understand and be understood. In Death in The Spotlight, Robin has given her readers the power to say, without question, that Daisy is queer, and that her friend Hazel supports her and loves her no matter what. Daisy gets to say the words, gets to feel what she feels for Martita, and gets to experience the first flutters of love, just as any other young character growing up would do. Robin said she cried when she wrote the scene, and I cried when reading it, because finally, a much-loved character gets to be strong-willed, fiercely intelligent, independent and yet also a child, figuring herself out, and realising she is gay. And that’s wonderful.’