For the last part of Tell An Author You Care... well, Week, I am posting my MotherReader Standard Interview of a dynamic new author, Caroline Hickey. Her book Cassie Was Here was my first recommendation to my county’s 2008 summer reading program. In fact, I entered my suggestion a mere ten minutes ago.
I may be doing a disservice by not doing a full review of this book, but I wanted to get this post up right now. Some plot basics are covered in the interview below, and I can confidently give it the official Thumbs-Up from MotherReader. Cassie Was Here is interesting and engaging and a particularly good summer read. As a promotion for this smart, fun book the author is giving away a free signed copy. Simply comment below with one idea of something fun to do in the summer, and I’ll pick a winner at random. It’s likely I’ll throw in a little something myself. Now, let’s talk to Miss Caroline.
When did you start writing?
I started writing poems when I was in grade school and considered myself quite the little poet (I wasn’t!). I moved on to short fiction in middle and high school, then back to poetry in college, where I took an amazing poetry seminar and was introduced to the workshopping process. I didn’t start writing for children until my twenties and when I did I couldn’t believe I’d ever done anything else! It’s funny how some things just click.
Where do you do your best thinking?
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of great thinking on the subway. It’s one place you can’t multi-task (unless you have a BlackBerry, which I thankfully don’t), so if I’m trying to figure out a thorny plot or character problem, I stare at the ceiling and just mull, mull, mull. I can’t think at my desk because it’s overflowing with revisions and bills and folders and manuscripts and a stack of books I want to read.
Who inspires you personally and/or professionally?
My writing group, The Longstockings, inspires me and keeps me motivated. We started writing and workshopping together in graduate school, and we’ve supported each other through every step of the book process, from first chapters to first acceptance letters to first book parties! When I feel frustrated with my own work, I read something another Longstocking is working on. It helps me remember how much fun writing is and how I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
Why did you need to write this book?
I wrote Cassie Was Here because I wanted to capture the effect a new influence can have on someone, particularly an older girl on a younger one. My main character, Bree, is eleven and whiling away a lonely summer in a new neighborhood when she meets thirteen-year-old Cassie. There’s nothing more intriguing to an eleven-year-old than a girl who’s a little older and a lot more sophisticated even when she’s a bully and that relationship is what I wanted to explore.
How does Cassie Was Here reflect your own life experience?
Since Bree has an imaginary friend (at age 11!), I often get asked if I did as well. The answer is yes, but I was only about 3 at the time. So I’m afraid that Bree is not me, nor much like me, really. However, the book does take place in a small suburb of Baltimore where I grew up, in my old neighborhood, and in my old house. I don’t think I’d do very well writing characters and plot taken literally from my life, because I’d be so constrained by what really happened that I wouldn’t be able to listen to the story and let it tell me where it needs to go.
What’s next for you?
Next up is a tween/YA novel called Isabelle’s Boyfriend, coming out with Roaring Brook next fall. It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl who goes bananas for another girl’s guy and tries to steal him. The problem is, she’s too nice to really do it, so she ends up botching the whole thing and making another guy fall for her!