Ask the Author

What is your favourite kids' book now?

I love Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole. The illustrations are charming and it has an original and feminist take on the traditional plotline of a princess who must choose among her suitors.

A reader in Port Coquitlam asked:
Do you carry a notebook around with you to write down your ideas?

I don't carry a notebook around with me during the day, although know writers that do. But I do have a notebook and pens beside my bed in case I get some ideas from my dreams.

Bridgette from Port Coquitlam asked:
Who is your favourite writer?

My favourite writer of children's books would have to be A.A. Milne, the writer of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. I love how he creates a whole world in which it is natural for stuffed animals to talk, and in which they have distinct personalities and lives.

In teen fiction, I really like Philip Pullman. His stories are frightening, but wonderful. I also like the first Harry Potter book. I'm not such a fan of the later ones.

In terms of adult fiction, I love so many writers and books that it's hard to list them all. One of my favourites is Jane Austen. I love all her books. I re-read Pride and Prejudice and Persuasian at least once a year. There is an Irish writer I recently discovered called Colum McCann who is wonderful. I have read his books Dancer, and Zoli. Both are amazing, in my opinion. Dancer is an fictionalized biography of Nureyev (I hope I'm spelling it correctly), the Russian dancer, and Zoli is about a Roma/Gypsy community in Europe and the discrimination they face. One of my favourite books of all time is Middlemarch, by George Eliot. I've probably read that book 20 times. And there is a non-fiction book by Jonathan Kozol called Death at an Early Age about teaching in the Boston public schools in the 1960s which influenced me greatly and persuaded me to become a teacher. And one of my colleagues at school recently loaned me an amazing novel called Fugitive Pieces (Canadian) by Anne Michaels, which I thought beautiful.

I also like poetry a lot. I've been reading a lot of poets from Wales recently, Menna Elfyn among them. She is brilliant. Among Canadian poets, I really like Tom Wayman, who lives in B.C. And among classical poets my favourites are Shakespeare and John Donne. I've memorized a few of Shakespeare's sonnets. I don't know anyone who writes about love the way he does.

A reader in Vancouver asked:
Where did you get the idea for Theodora Bear?

My grandmother grew up as the youngest of 13 children in a Yiddish-speaking immigrant family in New York City one hundred years ago. She used to tell me stories about growing up in a large household whose members talk constantly, squabble sometimes, and love each other deeply.

Carolyn's sister asked:
Do you have any special qualifications for writing this book?

I have a large collection of stuffed animals.

Carolyn's publisher asked:
Do you have a favourite quote about writing?

"Personally, I would sooner have written Alice in Wonderland than the whole Encyclopedia Britannica." (Stephen Leacock, Canadian humourist)

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to read in both Spanish and English. I also sing and belong to the Broadway Chorus, a community choir in Vancouver. I am a volunteer at the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vancouver every summer. If you are twelve or older, check it out. I love travelling to new places. In the last few years I have traveled in Italy, France, Ireland, Wales, and to various places in Canada. I love doing yoga and running when the weather is good.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved the Madeline books because they're about a bunch of little girls who become a family, like the one I grew up in with my two sisters. We three probably made as much trouble as all Miss Clavel's 12 girls put together!


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