I'm happy to welcome another Class of 2k11 author to the blog today! Carole Estby Dagg's debut novel, THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS, releases April 4, 2011 from Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It's Historical Fiction for tweens, ages 11 and up.
Welcome, Carole! Please tell me about your debut novel in 7 words or less:
adventure, 232-day walk, mother-daughter, women’s suffrage
Sounds very unique! Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours and why?
Clara Estby’s mother, Helga (my great-grandmother), because she is such a flawed yet noble character.
Can you tell my readers a little bit more about yourself?
Since childhood I wanted to be a writer, but was afraid to try so I became a librarian instead. My first book finally comes out the year I turn 67. I write in Everett, Washington, and a converted woodshed on San Juan Island. I am a techno-idiot and don’t own a cell phone.
What's the most surprising (and best) thing about your path to publication so far?
I submitted part of my manuscript for critique at the national Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in LA. At the end of my 15 minutes, my critiquer, Candie Moonshower, asked me if I’d like her to submit my work for the Sue Alexander Award. “What’s that?” I asked. It was my ticket out of the slush pile. After winning the award I signed a contract with Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
What a wonderful story! Congratulations! Can you offer any advice to aspiring authors?
If you have a story to tell, keep trying. I had 29 rejections on The Year We Were Famous over a period of 10 years before I signed a contract. I didn’t just keep submitting the same manuscript again and again though. During that time I took 8 college-level writing classes, attended countless writing workshops and conferences, and completely rewrote the book at least a dozen times, going from diary format to third person to first person, sassy voice, more mature voice, adventure focus to character development focus, 400 pages down to 250.
Great advice (and insight!) Can you give us a sentence or two about your current project?
After spending over ten years writing about Clara Estby I couldn’t let her go, so I’m writing a sequel that involves secretarial school and the Klondike Gold Rush.
Excellent. What did you write when you were a teen, Carole?
Very long term papers. Even then I liked the research more than the writing. I read a lot, though, and still read over 100 books a year.
What’s the last book you read that you really loved?
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi. I’m relieved that you phrased that question the last book you really loved; otherwise the list would go on for pages.
Wonderful. Thanks again for visiting, Carole, and if readers want to find out more about you and your writing, where should they look?
My website is www.CaroleEstbyDagg.com
And here's the book trailer for THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS. Enjoy!!