About Ying


Y S Lee was born in Singapore, raised in Vancouver and Toronto, and lived for a spell in England. As she completed her PhD in Victorian literature and culture, she began to research a story about a girl detective in 1850s London. The result was her debut novel, The Agency: A Spy in the House. This won the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s inaugural John Spray Mystery Award in 2011.

The Agency quartet continues with The Body at the Tower and The Traitor and the Tunnel, both of which were nominated for awards. Ying’s most recent novel, Rivals in the City, is the final book in the Agency series. All four books are published by Candlewick Press (US/Canada) and Walker Books (UK/Australia). The novels have also been translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean and Turkish.

In her previous life as an academic, Ying wrote Masculinity and the English Working Class (Routledge). She now lives in Kingston, Ontario.

She blogs here every Wednesday and her email address is ying@yslee.com.

The above is all true, of course – but it leaves so much unsaid.

Things I love:
Nattering with Nick, bitter chocolate, ashtanga yoga, making my children laugh, the colour red, unbreakfasty things for breakfast, crisp clean sheets, blank notebooks, the tock of an old-fashioned metronome, the sonnet form, wood-burning stoves, Edward Burtynsky’s photographs, Melissa Doherty’s paintings, laughing until I cry

Things I dislike:
Pomposity (great word, though), cleaning the bathroom, soggy veg

Things I’m learning to like, out of self-defense:
Early mornings (see children, above)

My favourite books of all time, in no particular order:

The Emily Starr trilogy, L. M. Montgomery (yes, I’m cheating because it’s 3 books, not one)

Middlemarch, George Eliot

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (and the rest of the Time Quintet)

Do you have other questions for me? The answers may already be in my FAQ.

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