Guest Edition

Caroline Carlson–What Was on Her . . .



Caroline Carlson by Amy Rose Capetta

Caroline Carlson

Welcome to the newest guest edition of What Was on Her . . . This time with Caroline Carlson!

Caroline is the creator of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates trilogy, the first of which—Magic Marks the Spot—came out last month as Caroline’s debut. And what a debut it has been! Magic Marks the Spot has grabbed attention from every imaginable quarter: A starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, a Great Summer Read pick from Huffington Post, a Junior Library Guild Selection! Even the American Booksellers Association has sat up and taken notice, naming Magic Marks the Spot as one of five ‘New Voices’ to watch this fall.

So, with all of these successes, what has Caroline been up to?

In her own words, here is What Was on Caroline Carlson’s . . .

Agenda: Writing the first draft of a new book. Giving a talk to students at a local MFA program. Packing for the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. Visiting a 40-foot-tall rubber duck. Video-chatting with a writer buddy. And all the usual stuff of life: going to the gym, getting a haircut, half-heartedly vacuuming.

Nightstand: I’m reading the excellent Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America by Dan Balz. And I just finished Marisha Pessl’s Night Film—very different but equally excellent.

Stovetop: I’ve done a ton of cooking recently. In the past few days, I’ve made pear and chocolate chip scones, braised green cabbage, a butternut squash tart, spiced plum and port jam, and an apple crisp.

Bulletin Board: Preliminary sketches of the cover of my second book! I grin every time I see them.

TV Screen: Sunday night is appointment TV night in our house; we are slightly addicted to The Mentalist and The Amazing Race. I’m also really hoping for another season of the brilliant Web show Burning Love.

Mind: Now that my first book is on store and library shelves, I’m trying to figure out how to re-balance my life as a published author. In these first few weeks after publication, I’ve been traveling, meeting awesome young readers, answering lots of e-mails and writing lots of blog posts. It’s been a huge amount of fun. Still, I have to admit that I’m craving an everyday routine, one that will let me handle the publicity tasks that come along with promoting a new book while still allowing me to write, spend time with my husband, and do all the non-writing-related things I enjoy. I love my new book, and it’s a huge part of my life—but it’s not the only part of my life. If it were, I’m pretty sure I’d go crazy.

As soon as I came home from visiting schools and bookstores in Washington, DC, I made a batch of jam. I’d never actually attempted jam-making before, and I didn’t really know what I was doing; it was a pretty weird way to relax. But cooking is one of the things that helps me balance out my writing life. Unlike writing a novel, making a batch of jam is hands-on, there are specific instructions to follow, and you end up with a delicious and tangible final product in only a few hours.

This week, I’ve been letting myself write slowly. I’ve just started working on a new book, and so far I’ve written about ten pages in ten days. I’m not breaking any speed records, that’s for sure. But I’m also trying to let myself focus on some of the other things I love, because when all the parts of my life are in balance, the writing ends up going a lot better.

To keep up to date with Caroline, follow her at and on twitter at @carolinetc. If you haven’t read Magic Marks the Spot yet, don’t miss out. You can order by clicking below: 

And be sure to stop by again on November 10, when Gabi Swiatkowska, the illustrator of Infinity and Me, A New York Times 2012 Best Illustrated Book, will be joining us as our first illustrator on What Was on Her . . .

2 thoughts on “Caroline Carlson–What Was on Her . . .

  1. When making jam and “half-heartedly vacuuming” give way to pirating the open seas, listen for that rousing “ARRRGH!” and look out your window for the flying Jolly Roger we VCFAers have hoisted for you! Huzzah Caroline!

  2. This interview made me chuckle. I’m definitely a half-hearted vacuumer as well as a half-hearted baker. So Caroline, my hat is off to you. Congrats on all that you have going on. I’m looking forward to book 2!
    Sandra, I’m loving these interviews!

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