Sunday, January 8, 2012

Debut Writers of the Class of 2k12: Caroline Starr Rose

Welcome to 2012! 

I'm delighted to be able to introduce readers to authors from my sister Class of 2k12, just as I did for previous 2k classes. I continue to be impressed by how many of our class members have crafted novels that have won awards, garnered fabulous reviews, and won devoted readers to their great books.

That is certainly true of the first of the 2k12 novels, MAY B. Rave reviews have accompanied the launch of this wonderful story. I'm so pleased that Caroline Starr Rose is here today.

Congratulations on the publication of your novel, MAY B. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?

MAY B. is the story of twelve-year-old May Betterly, who must survive a blizzard -- alone -- on the Kansas frontier.

I’ve always had an interest in the women of the frontier, stemming from my love for The Little House on the Prairie collection. As a child, I’d talk about Laura as if she were someone I personally knew. I’d devote a lot of time wondering about her world: how she’d never seen a town until she was five, how she didn’t go to school until she was seven, how a penny in her Christmas stocking was such a big deal.

Looking back, it seems inevitable I’d develop my own strong prairie girl.

How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?

I started writing in 1998, during summer vacation (I was teaching at the time). By the time MAY B. sold, I’d written four novels and seven picture books.

Four novels! That just shows the importance of experience. Can you describe your path to the publication of MAY B?

I made the crazy decision to stop teaching at the end of the 2008-2009 school year and write full time (crazy because I had no agent, no book offer, and no real prospects). MAY B. had just won first place for a novel excerpt at a local writing conference, and I decided it was the time to take a chance.

I queried frantically and signed with my agent, Michelle Humphrey of ICM, at the end of September 2009. MAY B. sold at auction in March 2010. Lest this journey sounds easy, here are my stats:

200+ direct rejections from editors over 11 years
75+ agent rejections
10 or so more rejections once on submission with my agent
3 bids
1 sale

I love those stats, because they show the value of persistence. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Read broadly, remember you have something unique to say, be willing to fail.

Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?

I’ve just started running again after many injuries in the last few years. I’m not fast, and I can’t cover more than a few miles, but it feels so wonderful to be able to come back to something I love. Hopefully I have a race or two in my future.

Since Caroline sent me her interview answers, she added this: "I've run three half marathons since then -- slow and steady, but my gosh, 13.1 miles is nothing to sneeze at."  Clearly Caroline knows about persistence.

My family has just moved back to my hometown, Albuquerque, NM, so my husband can start a new Presbyterian Church (PCA). I’d love to see this beautiful city loved on and bolstered by this future congregation.

Do you have any new writing ventures underway?

My picture book, OVER IN THE WETLANDS, focuses on the animals and plants of Southern Louisiana. If it sells, I’d like to donate a portion of sales to wetlands restoration.

I’m in the process of researching for an eventual verse novel about a Gitano (Spanish Gypsy) girl.

Do you have a website where readers can learn more about MAY B? 

Please stop by!

Thanks, Caroline!


Annie said...

Great interview, Janet! A wonderful tribute to the value of perseverance. Welcome to the 2k classes, Caroline! I can't wait to read MAY B.

Janet Fox said...

Hi Ann!! It's so great to have you stop by. Yes, I'm very proud of my 2k family. :)

Jeannine Atkins said...

Love the story of taking a chance! As well as holding on. Thanks for the thoughtful interview!

Janet Fox said...

Thanks, Jeannine! I agree - perseverance is key!

Hardygirl said...

I am so excited about this book and I love the cover.

Thanks so much for posting your stats. I often tell people that I could wallpaper my house with rejection letters (and they think I'm kidding!!).


Janet Fox said...

I had a desk drawer about 4 inches deep into which I threw rejection letters, and swore I'd keep writing and sending until I couldn't close the drawer.

Paper is really thin! I never counted, but papering the walls sounds about right.

mima said...

Thanks for sharing your journey with MAY B, Caroline; your perseverance is inspiring!