Interview with Caroline Starr Rose

Caroline Starr Rose

Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. As a girl she danced ballet, raced through books, composed poetry on an ancient typewriter, and put on magic shows in a homemade cape. She’s taught both social studies and English in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. In her classroom she worked to instill in her students a passion for books, the freedom to experiment with words, and a curiosity about the past.
Caroline has recently returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she lives with her husband and two sons.



May B. (2012) ◆ My Review ❘ GoodreadsAmazonThe Book Depository

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Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions about yourself and your amazing novel May B. on Confessions of a Readaholic. It's great to have you here :)

Thank you, Rabiah. It’s lovely to be here.

Books are like cakes– they have ingredients to make a final product. What's the recipe for MAY B.?

Lots of research, trust, and time.
I’d only read two verse novels before writing May B. and didn’t originally plan to write verse at all. The more research I did, verse felt like the most truthful way to tell the story.
Your book touches on problems which many children and teens alike face today, such as dyslexia. What gave you the idea to write a historical novel about this?
My experience as a teacher. I’ve always wondered how children with learning disabilities would have been treated in an era before their struggles would have been understood. Once I determined May’s ambition to be a teacher, I decided the biggest obstacle I could throw at her to keep her from her goal (authors are mean that way) was to give her a learning disability.
What's the main message you hope readers will take from your book?
The idea that our worth comes from who we are, not what we can or cannot do.
What and/or who were your influences in writing MAY B.?
A number of things!
The book READ THIS ONLY TO YOURSELF: THE PRIVATE WRITINGS OF MIDWESTERN WOMEN showed me how pioneer women wrote of their own lives in very contained, matter-of-fact, spare language. Trying to mirror their voices is what led me to verse.
From the beginning, I wanted to tell a frontier survival story and pictured MAY B. as LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE meets HATCHET. 
The movie CASTAWAY made me curious about telling a story with a character largely on her own. In a lot of ways, MAY B. was an experiment in learning how such a story could be told.

Which books are you currently reading? Which 5 books are your all-time favorites?

Right now I’m reading fellow 2k12 member Sarvenaz Tash’s THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST with my boys. I’m almost finished with NEW FOUND LAND, a verse novel about the Lewis and Clark expedition and am halfway through Rick Bragg’s memoir, ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’.
And here are my all-time favorites (six...I couldn’t resist!)

KATHERINE by Anya Seton
A SEPARATE PEACE by John Knowles
Is there a certain song that you think fits your novel?
The Ludlows from the movie LEGENDS OF THE FALL.

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A Blizzard or a Sandstorm?

Sandstorm, most definitely. I can’t stand the cold.
Cats or Dogs?
I love both.
Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt? (and which flavor? I'm really curious :D)
Ice cream. Anything with peanut butter. I also love peppermint with hot fudge.
Early Bird or Night Owl?
I used to be an early bird before children. Now I’m neither!

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What do you do when you're not writing?

Read, run, cook, work crosswords, laugh at ridiculous things, spend time with my family.
And lastly, do you have any tips for aspiring writers out there?

These two ideas kept me writing for twelve years before making a sale: 
I have something unique to say.
My writing can only improve if I keep working at it.

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Thank you so much to Caroline Starr Rose for answering questions on herself and her debut novel, May B. I seriously loved this book. It's a quick read, in verse, and has a VERY likable heroine– what more do you need?

I've known it since last night:
It's been too long to expect them to return.
Something's happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor's Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it's hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May's memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she's determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose's fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

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