There were three big influences in my growing up to become a writer: My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Richter, who gave me endless encouragement, my literary hero Mark Twain, and Harriet M. Welsch.

If you don’t know who Harriet M. Welsch is, she’s the precocious protagonist of the young adult novels Harriet the Spy and The Long Secret, by Louise Fitzhough.

Harriet was fearless. She literally spied on people. She didn’t just eavesdrop or play pretend spy. She carried a freaking notebook, snuck into people’s homes if she had too, and took down notes about them. She was a daring…