Stephan Lee
November 22, 2013 AT 05:00 AM EST

Given her lifelong love of whodunits, it makes sense that Oscar winner Octavia Spencer has written one herself. “If you can believe it, I loved and read all the mysteries: Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, Jupiter Jones, the Boxcar gang…. Who was a nerd and didn’t get out much?” she says with a laugh. Her debut children’s novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit, introduces a flame-haired, tae kwon do-trained sleuth who tracks down a small-town treasure. (Spencer will play an amateur detective herself on NBC’s planned Murder, She Wrote reboot.) The actress, who’s dyslexic, had been dreaming up Randi for a decade. Even if it takes her longer to write, at least she’s comfortable doing it. “My bed is my desk, and I usually have my feet up and my computer on my belly,” she says. “I’m trying to be responsible and write at a desk. I bought a beautiful desk, but it’s just not the same!”

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