Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interview with children's author Janet Carey

Today, my guest is children's author, Janet Carey.

1.     Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
How long? Since I first picked up a crayon, but matters didn’t get serious for another thirty years when I tried my first novel. I’d wanted to write fantasy novels since childhood. Stories streamed through my head. I had to do something with the story-stream, so I finally dove in and wrote.

2.     Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write full-time. Candle burning by the computer, I go into the story and if it’s a good day, I get lost there for hours and hours. I keep organized with a Writing Log and a Goal Calendar when I’m on deadline. It helps me stay on task. I can be pretty hard on myself when I’m revising to deadline. Once I send the manuscript in, I celebrate and move on to a new tale. That’s when I ease up the writing schedule a little and let myself write a bit more slowly so I can be in flow. I’m always working. I have more trouble organizing the rest of my life when I’m intensely writing .

3.     What influences your writing?
Books from authors like Ursula K. LeGuin, Patricia McKillip, Megan Whalen Turner (the Attolia books), and more. Great stories inspire me. So do the classic fairytales, which are strange indeed.

4.     Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?
The Dragons of Noor is my seventh published book. You can see the full list here at The first three were realistic fiction novels. My book Wenny Has Wings was also made into a feature film in Japan in 2008. We flew to Tokyo for the opening and that was a blast! The rest of my novels are Tween and YA fantasy. I’m in the midst of a few trilogies now that take place in quite different worlds (world juggling can be a challenge!). I’ll be writing fantasy for a while.

5.     Why did you choose to write a children's story?
I read fantastic children’s adventure novels growing up. Reading C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, and J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings inspired me to become a fantasy author. Children and teens are discerning readers. They’re honest and still into “what ifs.” Their openness allows me to try something new like Stealing Death. The seed for that novel came from a haunting fairytale, but the novel grew much wilder than expected.

6.     What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
First idea for The Dragons of Noor came from a daydream. I saw a storm wind blow in and steal young children. It tore the children into the sky and across the sea. The image got me asking a lot of questions. What’s happening here? Why steal children? Is it a kind or malevolent wind? Dragons flew in and the novel took off. If this all sounds too magical and easy, it can begin that way in the early stages. The hard work comes as I write the story to its end, revise it again and again, then dig into intensive rewrites with editors.

7.     What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
I faced ten years of rejection before my first book came out. I think it was worth the wait, but I understand self-publishing works better for some authors. We all want our stories in the readers’ hands.  

8.     What is your marketing strategy?
My strategy is celebratory. I always throw a huge book party for friends and colleagues. We eat, dance, sing, celebrate, and people usually come to the bookstore in costume. Fun photos of my book launch parties are here at LitArtPhotography ( )

I also link my book launch with a charity relating to the story theme. Since The Dragons of Noor deals with saving a threatened forest, we donated funds raised at the book launch party to The Nature Conservancy’s Plant A Billion Trees ( ) whose goal is to restore the endangered rainforest in Brazil One Dollar One Tree at a Time. 10% of my author school visit funds are also going to Plant A Billion Trees as a part of the ongoing celebration for my new book. More about that on my Giving Back page ( )

Finally generous blogs like this one also help to spread the word.
I also use Facebook and have two blogs (see more on that in question 10 below).

9.     What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
It’s good to have an agent so you can focus on writing instead of selling. That said it’s tough to get one. Joining SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) ( ) really helps. Members can get regular updates on agents looking for children’s and YA books.

10.  Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
~Google Janet Lee Carey for info on books, interviews, reviews etc.
            ~Author Facebook page:
~Dreamwalks Blog about the writing life: ( )  
~Library Lions Blog ( ) showcasing amazing Library Programs for youth and teens across the U.S.  

RAVE: Libraries should be lauded for getting our books out there to readers for free. The cost of a book doesn’t ever have to keep a child or a teen from holding and reading a book they love. It’s still a revolutionary idea.

11.  Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
Dream. Read. Write daily. Walk. Keep a Journal. Join SCBWI. Believe in your stories.

12.  Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be

The Dragons of Noor Oct 2010, Egmont USA available in bookstores and libraries.
The Dragons of Noor Sequel to The Best of Noor
Synopsis: Miles, Hanna, and Taunier join with the dragons to save the last ancient forest of Noor. If they fail, they will never find the children stolen by the wind.
“Young teens with a burgeoning taste for high fantasy should be satisfied . . . The first blushes of romance provide an added potential appeal” – Kirkus

“starts with a bang–well, a crash–and never lets up” --  School Library Journal

Excerpt from Chapter One:

Children fly when worlds are shaken,
Now the children are Wind-taken.
Seek them there, seek them here, before the children disappear.
The first lines of the Blind Seer game haunted her as she circled the ridge. They seemed to foretell what had happened down in town. Blind Seer was only a game they’d played when they were younger, skipping off to hide from the seer who stumbled about wearing his blindfold. Back then they’d thought nothing of the rhyme.
 Snap. Hanna spun around. Who was following her? She slipped into the foliage. 
Another snap. “Tymm? What are you doing here?”
“I sneaked away from Mother. You can’t make me stay inside for always.” His short blond curls bobbed as he ripped the leaves off a slender twig.
 Hanna pricked her ears, listening for a breeze. “Come on. I’ll take you home.” She thrust out her hand. 
Tymm brushed her away. “I want to stay with you. You’re going to see Taunier, aren’t you? I know you like him.”
“I’m not going to see Taunier.” Impossible that her little brother could make her blush, but there it was.
“Then why’d you come up here?”
“Why should I tell you? And anyway, there’s no time to argue. I’ve got to get you home before the wind blows in.” She tugged him more forcefully.
He thrust out his chin. “I won’t go. I’m not afraid of no wind.”
Tymm was too young to understand the horror of what had happened down in town. Everyone shouting, running after the wind-blown children, mothers and fathers crying out. One of the children was Tymm’s friend Cilla, a beautiful girl with red curls and a singing laugh. Hanna and Taunier had fought the gusts, climbed a tree, tried to grab Cilla’s flailing skirt as she blew higher and higher. In the end she and the others were no more than three black dots sweeping east over the sea.
“Listen to me. The wind came after children and no one else, Tymm. It scoured through the crowd, knocking everyone but three young ones flat. With the wind stealing children like that, you know you have to stay inside.”
Tymm resisted a little longer but when she tried to pick him up and carry him back, he said, “I’m no baby!”
His footfall was heavy as they made their way along the rim of the gorge. If Tymm hadn’t come along, she could have found the deyas in another ten minutes. He was always getting in the way, always . . .
A little breeze stirred her hair. Hanna trembled. No one knew where the Wind-taken
children had gone. Not the grieving parents nor the rest of the terrified villagers who’d sworn to keep their young children indoors or tethered to their sides if they had to step out.

1 comment:

  1. I thought your readers might enjoy this Interview with Children's Author Carolyn Marsden

    Take a trip to the beaches of San Diego to meet children's author, Carolyn Marsden.

    The award- winning author talks about her books and the art of collaboration and how she learned to write with others. She offers good writing tips for writers both young and old.

    MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual FIeld Trips for Kids is a series of free kid-friendly educational video podcasts for children ages 5-13. Each episode comes with a list of recommended books, a list of fun websites and a Learning Corner of questions and extended activities.