Children's Writer of the Week: Caroline Adderson

Caroline Adderson was well established as a fiction writer before she turned her hand to children's books, but her wry humour and unique sensibility have served her well in writing for young readers.  You can learn more about her children's books at her website, but I will mention her two most recent publications: a wonderful young adult novel, Middle of Nowhere (Groundwood) and primary novel, Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week (KidsCan Press) which is to be the first in a new series.  

* Caroline's publisher has generously donated a copy of Middle of Nowhere for one lucky winner (sorry, Canadian mailing addresses only).  Just leave a comment below and I will draw a name next week.  You can read an excellent review of the book by Sarah Ellis for Quill & Quire here.

My absolute favourite of all Caroline's books is Very Serious Children (Scholastic) which has the most ludicrously wonderful of premises - two little boys run away from the circus to join the real world.  I was also fortunate to get a sneak peek of Caroline's latest effort, a picture book, and can promise that it is going to be wonderful.  

Much as I admire Caroline's writing for adults (check out her latest novel The Sky is Falling), I am grateful that she is writing for children as well.  Hers is just the kind of moral intelligence and wit that young readers are lucky to find.
Caroline kindly submitted to my latest blog feature, an email question and answer session.  Suggestions for other victims kindly welcomed.

What surprised you most about your most recently published book?

Once upon upon a time (almost 25 years ago!), I worked for a year on a novel I wasn’t skilled enough to finish.  It was partially set in a logging town in the 1930s and required hours of research.  All those notes about how logging was done before clear cutting got packed into a box.  I forgot all about it until Mrs. Burt started telling her story to Curtis and Artie.  A bindle stiff, a mulligan mixer, a barber’s chair?  The old logging jargon just popped out of her mouth.  I couldn’t believe it.  So you see?  Nothing’s ever wasted. 

the author (aged six)
What was the hardest thing about writing it? 

Getting the voice of a twelve year-old boy right, even though I live with one.

How do you feel about being called a children’s writer?

Wonderful!  The other half of me writes for adults and has done so for much longer.  I first started publishing in my mid-20s.  Back then, when I told people I wrote fiction, they would automatically say, “Children’s books?”  This was because I looked like a child so couldn’t possibly have written anything as difficult as a book for grown ups.  Now that I actually do write children’s books I know the truth: they’re harder.

When (or where) do you write?

Morning is my best time.  I write after I get my son off to school and the dog walked.  My office is upstairs.  It has fir floors, a skylight and the built-in bookcases I’ve wanted all my life.  It is also the only room in the house in which the mess is my fault.

Who do you write for?

My characters.  I feel it’s my responsibility to reveal the truth of their lives to the best of my ability.

Did you want to be a writer when you were a child?

It never occurred to me.  I didn’t seem to be a real job.  I wanted to be an archeologist.

If you could live in a book, which book would it be?
This is such a wonderful question, one I could answer in so many different ways.  For example, if by “live in” you mean “share the adventure of” From the Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler comes to mind because hiding in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, bathing in its fountain, and sleeping in its displays at night is right up my alley.  If you are talking about the specific world of the book, I immediately think “small” (rather than, say, “dangerous” or “run by wizards”).  The small world you and Julie Morstad created in your three Henry books (When You Were Small, Where You Came From, When I Was Small) makes me shiver with delight – sleeping in a slipper!  Ditto The Borrowers and The Indian in the Cupboard.  And then there are all those books in which we can be animals (Frog and Toad, The Wind in the Willows) and books we would live in because we want to be friends with the characters (all the Beverly Cleary books, Harriet the Spy)… Sorry, it’s impossible to answer this one.

What is the question you would most like to be asked?

What’s it like to travel the world intrepidly, speak eight languages fluently, and sing like an angel? 

I wonder why no one asks.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I know Caroline.  I met her in Vancouver where I also met any number of other wonderful people, many of them writers and many of those writers very good writers indeed.  Caroline is one of these.  I reserve the right to use this blog to talk about people whose work I admire whether these people are strangers or dear to me.


m said…
Ooh! Pick me!

I just read her short story in The New Quarterly and loved it. I haven't had the pleasure to read any of her work for younger people yet.
Carrie Snyder said…
I would love to be chosen! Yes, please!
Sara O'Leary said…
Congratulations "m" - you'll need to email me your address and I'll get your copy sent out to you. Sorry, Carrie and better luck next time. Watch this space for future giveaways!

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