Career Builder & Giveaway: Caroline B. Cooney

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

What memories of your debut author experience stand out?

In my twenties, I wrote eight full-length adult historical novels set in ancient Rome, none of which were ever published. You’d think I would have noticed prior to writing eight of them that nobody wanted them.

I started writing short stories instead; one was accepted in Seventeen Magazine, and out of that, eventually, came the invitation from a YA editor to write teen paperback romances.

I had found my voice. I loved writing for teens. As to the unsuccessful books,I learned so much writing them. I learned not to give up and I learned to tell a good story fast.

If you could offer advice to the new voice you once were, what would you say?

If you want to write, don’t follow my footsteps! That’s a lot of failure. The best thing for a new writer is practice. Practice writing the way you’d practice the piano or basketball.

Fifteen minutes a day is fine. You don’t have to finish anything. You’re trying to become fluid at this difficult skill.

Did you ever consider giving up? What happened? What kept you going?

I did not ever consider giving up. For reasons I can’t identify, the rejections toughened me rather than weakened me. It became a battle: me versus publishing. Now publishing is my ally.

Although the years of failure were hard, my path since then has been a delightful upward route. There haven’t been valleys and there haven’t been rapids. I was blessed with brilliant editors and good publishers. YA readers embrace every kind of book – mystery, romance, suspense, time travel, family saga, historical fiction – and my editors have allowed me to try all those.

What can your readers expect next?

I’m working on my third historical novel – out of 91 books!

I’ve put a full year into research and travel so that I can tell the story of the English children who will eventually sail on the Mayflower.

I am riveted by their lives – such drama and tragedy. It’s a privilege to write about their courage and determination. I am so excited that my readers will soon see who these amazing children are.

I’m not sure what I’ll write then. Will I return to suspense novels? Experiment with something entirely different? A different age reader or a different kind of story?

There’s still so much out there. And it’s exciting suddenly to be in a new publishing age: digital books and e-short stories.

Cynsational Screening Room

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Janie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney (Delacorte/Random House). Publisher sponsored. U.S. only.

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2 thoughts on “Career Builder & Giveaway: Caroline B. Cooney

  1. I'm a fan of Cooney's books, but out of 91 books I've only read may 4 or five. I'm excited that there's going to be another Janie novel, because that series made me realize how much I love reading!

    Thanks for sharing. This will be a great article for me to refer back to later 🙂

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