Monday, January 2, 2012

Class of 2K12 Interview with Caroline Starr Rose -- Debut Author of MAY B. -- AND a giveaway!

Happy New Year, Everyone! 

And welcome back. Today, I'm doing something a little different for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

I'm thrilled to be interviewing Caroline Starr Rose. You may remember my review of her debut novel-in-verse, MAY B. from November, 2011 (if not, you can find it via my own blog and actually also here at Random Acts of Reading).  This lovely novel is being pubbed by Schwartz & Wade (for ages 9 to 12) and it launches on January 10, 2012.  Only a little over a week!  YAY!  Congrats, Caroline! 

Caroline Starr Rose

Q.   Do you outline before you write?  If so, does it end up changing before you finish the first draft?  What change surprised you the most?

A.  I don’t really outline, but I do try to plot some key moments/turning points in the storyline, knowing things will probably change. When I started May B., I had a sense how it would end, but I wasn’t sure exactly how the story would get there. I have this weird belief that the story itself will answer all questions I have about it, if I just dig deep enough. When I get to a rough patch, I go back and ask questions about a character’s motivation, limitations, etc., trusting the answers are there for me to unearth, that the one logical way the character and her story will play out will come to me somehow. Sometimes I need an outsider’s perspective to see the answers, but so far, this has worked for me.

Q. How long did it take to go from the idea for the book to the draft your editor accepted?  Was it months or years?  Did you go through endless revisions, beta readers, etc, before starting the submission process?  Did you ever want to pull out your hair?

A.  I started May B. the summer of 2007 and finished the first draft the following summer (I was teaching at the time and found any sort of creative work outside the classroom virtually impossible during the school year). Really, from the start I had the sense that it was the strongest thing I’d ever written because it felt so honest. While drafting, I shared it with my critique group, two adult writers who’d never even heard of a verse novel but were nonetheless able to help me move forward.

I taught another year, doing some revision while school was in session. In the spring of 2009, I entered May B. in a novel excerpt contest at the Jambalaya Writer’s Conference, a local event sponsored by a nearby university. May won first place, and part of the prize was to meet with an editor one-on-one. After taking one look at my work, she asked why I didn’t have an agent yet. As crazy as it sounds, I decided -- without any prospects -- to stop teaching and write full time. I met writer Natalie Bahm through her blog and asked her to read my manuscript. She asked me one simple question that completely changed the ending of the book, making it stronger. In October, I signed with my agent, Michelle Humphrey. We did one more round of revisions, and May B. sold, at auction, in March 2010.

May started with Random House Children’s Books imprint, Tricycle Press. I went through 4-5 vigorous rounds of edits with my editor and was weeks from the ARC printing when I discovered Random House had decided to close Tricycle. All titles slated for Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 were put on hold. For six weeks, none of us knew if our books would stay with Random House or if we’d have to shop them elsewhere. Let’s call this my hair-pulling stage! It was a really painful time for me, not only to (possibly) lose my book but to see my editor lose her job and watch this beloved imprint close. May was one of five Tricycle titles kept on with Random House. I moved to the imprint Schwartz and Wade, and my publication date switched from September 2011 to January 2012. My new editor and I went through three more intense rounds of edits.

For a book of 15,000 words, that’s a lot of editing! As stressful as it was to have my book in jeopardy, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with two talented editors who challenged me and drew out my writing in different ways.

A few weeks ago I got a call from the woman who heads up the Jambalaya Writer’s Conference. She’s asked me to come speak next spring. I never would have guessed three years ago of this full-circle way things have played out.

Wow!  That's quite a journey!  And I'm so glad Random House kept you on when Tricycle closed.  

Q.  How much of your main character is you in disguise?

A. Very little of May is me in disguise. She’s much braver than I, and I’ve drawn a lot of strength from her, especially those weeks when I wasn’t sure what would ultimately happen to my book. As silly as it sounds, while running half marathons (something I do not with a lot of speed or grace but with a lot of heart) I often think of May for inspiration during those hard miles at the end.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Caroline!  I'm looking forward to handselling your book next week!

(Please note that most of the other Class of 2K12 interviews I have coming up will be for YA books, so I'll be posting them on FRIDAYS, as part of my semi-regular YA Friday posts!  This Friday, January 6, I'm interviewing Robin Bridges, author of The Gathering Storm! All my interviews will come under the heading of Class of 2K12 so you'll be able to find them easily. Thanks.)


I love Caroline's book so much I'm giving away one hardcover copy!  All you have to do to enter this giveaway is be a follower and leave a comment on this post, although I will give you extra points if you tweet it, blog about it, or mention on facebook -- just let me know.  On Twitter, I'm @booksnbrains.   This giveaway is open internationally and will close at 11:59 pm EST on Saturday, January 14, 2012.  Winner will be announced on Monday January 16, 2012.  Good luck!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger. Other regulars include (but are not limited to):

Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Barbara Watson at her blog
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael G-G at Middle Grade Mafioso
Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty
Ms. Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads
Danika Dinsmore at The Accidental Novelist
Jennifer Rumberger at her blog
Akoss at Nye Louwon--My Spirit
Gabrielle Prendergast at angelhorn

Sheri Larsen at her blog


  1. Welcome back and Happy New Year! Loved this interview and am so looking forward to reading this book!

  2. Great interview. I'm so excited for Caroline and can't wait for my ARC to come. I loved reading how Caroline decided to write full-time. Glad it worked out when she lost her first publisher.

    I'll let someone else win her book since I'm getting an ARC.

  3. I've seen this book mentioned so many times that it's hard to believe it's just coming out. I'll read it regardless, but it would be great to have a copy to put in my school library!

  4. Thanks, Deb! You'll love the book.

    Hi Natalie! Yes, Caroline took a chance and it paid off! I'm thrilled for her.

    Hi Ms. Yingling! The book's gotten great reviews. You should carry it in your library. Good luck!

  5. Thanks for the great interview and giveaway! I'm amazed at how long the editing process is.

  6. Hi Susanna. Yes, it's daunting, isn't it? But I hope we all get a chance to go through it!

  7. Great interview to start off the new year! The more I read about May B and Caroline, the more I want to read the book. How cool that you're giving away a copy! I will also post a link to this post on Facebook.

  8. Great interview!!!
    May B. is on my radar this year, so it would be awesome to win a free copy.

    I'm a follower and I also tweeted about it.!/akossket/status/153869872537935872

  9. Yay! Welcome back and Happy New Year.

    I'm still being a slug and not doing MMGM till next week (there's been too much partyig at Mafioso HQ!)

    What an amazing story--my heart was in my throat when Caroline talked about the Tricycle imprint closing and her book being in limbo. I'm so glad that the story had a happy ending, and that we are going to see May B. on the shelves in just a few days!!

  10. Great interview. It's always interesting to see that perspective. Especially for those that aren't writers.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  11. Hi Jennifer! Facebook shout-out duly noted. Thanks.

    Hi Akoss. Of course I know you're a follower. And thanks for the tweet! Extra point noted.

    Michael, after all the reading you did for the Cybils, you're allowed a couple of weeks to be a slug! Saw your tweet. Thanks. And I love happy endings too.

    Hi Vivien. Sometimes it's easy to forget that not every children's book blogger is a novelist or picture book writer. Glad the interview was still interesting. And I made note of your tweet. Thanks.

  12. Awesome interview. I have a verse novel out on sub right now, so I'm desperate to read this one.

  13. She such a source of encouragement to me because I'm also teaching and trying to write!

    I tweeted the giveaway:!/justkeepreading/status/154000826535378945

  14. I love verse novels and am always looking for new ones to recommend to my elementary school students. Looking forward to checking this one out.

  15. May B is a definite "must read" for me!

  16. I LOVE this book so much! Can't wait to read it again!

  17. That sounds like a wonderful story. I look forward to reading it and making sure our school librarian has a copy :).

  18. Woow, that's one book I must read! Definitely a great way to kick off new year

  19. Gabrielle: Thanks, and how wonderful that you've written a verse novel yourself. Good luck!

    Jill: I saw your tweet. Thanks!

    Cathe: Thanks for entering. Whether or not you win, your students should still read this!

    LJMoz: Welcome. Thanks for entering.

    Hi Jade! Glad to hear you loved it too.

    Kristen: Welcome. Every school library should have a copy of this.

    Reading mind: Hi, and thanks!

  20. GFC Follower and I would like to be entered in your giveaway.

  21. Welcome, LMcLendon, and thanks for the follow. You're officially entered!

  22. I think it's wonderful that she's giving back to the same conference that helped her on her way.

    And it seems like I've been waiting for this one to actually release for a very long time.

    Thanks, Joanne!

  23. Hi Myrna! Yes, a lot of people have been anxiously waiting for this one.

  24. me wanty. hope you had a nice holiday.

  25. I agree with Ms. Yingling! I've seen it promoted so long, it's hard to believe that it just is coming out!

  26. Ahaha, Brooke! Well, you're entered at least. And thanks. I did. Hope you did too.

    Welcome bestbook! And all that advanced promotion is well-deserved in this case!


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