When you finish reading this post, go straight to Carolyn Crimi’s website, if you will, and take a look at her books, books, books! LOTS of them will be familiar to you, including her Golden Kite winner that many (like me) consider a PERFECT book, There Might Be Lobsters. When I learned that Carolyn had published not one, but TWO middle grade novels recently, I knew she was someone I had to feature here.
JE: Carolyn, when did you know you were meant to write for kids?
CC: I started telling everyone—family, teachers, friends—that I wanted to be a children’s book author as soon as I learned how to read. I remember desperately wanting to crawl right through the pages of Winnie-the-Pooh so that I could live in the 100-acre wood. I soon realized that I couldn’t pull that off, but that I could do the next best thing, which is to write my own book.
JE: And, wow, have you ever! Not only do you have oodles of fabulous trade books, but you’ve done lots of educational writing, too. How’d you get into that, and was it before or after you sold your first pb?
CC: After I decided to go after my dream of becoming a published author, I took a ton of Writing for Children classes. It was the smartest move I could have made. Not only did I learn about publishing, I also met fellow writers. One such friend told me about a job opening at an educational publisher. I still wrote picture books in my spare time, and after about a year of working there I sold my first picture book. I haven’t written for the educational market in quite a while, but it was a great way to start my career. I had tight deadlines, for one thing, and I got to see my name in print!
I still take many, many Writing for Children classes, by the way. I have so much to learn!
JE: Small successes seem to fuel big successes, don’t they? When it comes to writing classes, I hope you’re also teaching a few! Carolyn, which of your picture books has been your best seller, and … did you know it would be?
CC: My best seller so far is Where’s My Mummy? I had no idea it would sell as many copies as it has! If I could replicate its success I would!
JE: So…you’re now the author of two middle grade novels, Weird Little Robots from 2019…
…and the brand new Secondhand Dogs!
JE: Have you always wanted to write for slightly older readers, or is this a more recent passion?
CC: For a long time I believed that I couldn’t write novels. I would start them, get stuck on some plot point, and eventually abandon them. I have many, many half-finished novels in my half-finished manuscript drawer! I had always yearned to write middle grade novels, though, so one day I decided that I would put aside my fears and go after my dream. I had read a book by Carol Dweck, Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential, about fixed versus growth mindsets. It helped me understand my habit of quitting novels when they became challenging. Basically, a person with a growth mindset believes that your talents can grow and develop over time, while a person with a fixed mindset believes that you are born with a certain amount of talent, and that’s it. You’re either a writer or you’re not. I knew after reading this book that I was stuck in a fixed mindset about writing novels. I had convinced myself that I didn’t have what it takes. After reading more about mindsets, I realized that if I just pushed myself a little bit harder, I could absolutely complete a novel. And so I simply made it my goal to finish Weird Little Robots. I couldn’t control whether or not a publisher bought it, but I could definitely control its completion. Making that decision to see it through no matter what changed my career in profound ways. After all, if I could do it once, I could do it again, right? As soon as I finished Weird Little Robots I went to work on Secondhand Dogs, which, I’m proud to say, came out July 6th!
JE: I love that you identified what was holding you back, and then did something about it. That right there shows a strong growth mindset and is likely the step where many others stumble. What’s next for you?
CC: I love everything about theater and have been taking acting classes for over fifteen years. I’ve always been interested in somehow marrying my two passions, acting and writing, and have been working on turning one of my picture books into a play. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, but it’s been great fun!
JE: I don’t doubt it! BEST of luck with the play. How cool to see your characters come to life! Are more picture books in the works?
CC: I have two picture books coming out in the next few years. I haven’t yet signed the contract for one of these books so I can’t tell you about it quite yet, but the other is a Halloween book titled How to Haunt a House, illustrated by Edward Miller. It’ll be coming out this September. I can’t wait to get into the schools again and read this book! Reading my books out loud to kids is one of my favorite things to do in life. It makes all the stress and doubt involved in writing worthwhile!
JE: Amen to that! Well, CONGRATULATIONS on the brand new sale, and we’ll all be looking forward to How to Haunt a House. Thanks so much for joining us today, Carolyn!
The WINNERS of our 3-book, Thunder & Cluck giveaway: Ashley Sierra, Debbie Bruns, and Candy Wellins.