I had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline Starr Rose, author of the upcoming May B. a Novel. Caroline is a member of the Class of 2k12 and May B. is her debut novel that is scheduled to release January 10, 2012.
This is the first book that I have read written in verse and I really enjoyed how it flowed. What made you write May B. in verse?
May B. didn’t start as verse, and I was frustrated by the distance I felt between what I was writing and what I was truly trying to convey. It was when I went back over some first-hand accounts of frontier women that I realized a spare, matter of fact style would best suit the story and the character and best represent the women of the era.
How did your experience as a teacher influence the development of your main character? Did she remind you of any former students?
My teaching did influence the development of May’s character, but not in ways that would be obvious. Writing for me always forces deep self-examination. In creating a character whose needs aren’t fully understood or met by her teachers, I had to face my own shortcomings in the classroom. It’s not easy to admit you’ve not done all you could for a child, whether those limitations came from time constraints, lack of skills or knowledge, or some other barrier. In understanding this aspect of my teaching, I was able to more honestly examine May’s struggles and feelings of frustration, hurt, and confusion. I hope, too, that what I’ve written offers hope to those who feel inadequate or misunderstood, whether in or out of school.
May doesn’t remind me of any students specifically, but I had several in mind when developing her storyline.
I too love the Little House books! How challenging or enlightening was the research for this book? Did it change any thoughts or ideas you had about that time period?
I loved researching for this book! In my mind, there is no one stronger than those who daily faced the loneliness, uncertainty, and back-breaking work required of frontier living.
What would you have done if you were in May B.’s situation?
Nothing half as brave as May is ultimately able to do! I think I would have done a lot of crying and would probably have not been able to move beyond despair.
I know this is your debut book, are you working on anything else that you can share at this time?
I’m working on a picture book about the Louisiana Wetlands, a contemporary middle grade novel about a girls’ club, and another historical verse novel set early on in American history.
I always like to ask a random, non-book related question. With the holiday season upon us, what is your favorite family tradition and favorite food to indulge in this time of year?
One of my favorite things growing up was to drive around my hometown, Albuquerque, NM, on Christmas Eve to see the luminarias -- paper bags filled with sand and a candle -- lined along sidewalks and rooftops. Traditionally, luminarias are lit on December 24 and 25 to light the way for the Christ child. They’re gorgeous in their simplicity and speak to a culture I love.
We moved back to town last year, and I was thrilled to share the Christmas Eve luminaria drive with my boys. Except. We got stuck in a really long viewing line, and both my boys needed to go to the bathroom. There was no turning around. One guy grumbled about “the bags;” the other wailed about the bathroom. The adults in the car vacillated between laughter and frustration -- an interesting memory, to say the least!
This time of year I crave tamales, another New Mexican holiday tradition. It’s good to be home!
Thanks Caroline for the great interview! I featured the trailer for May B. a couple weeks ago, check it out HERE.
Don't forget to check back on December 30th to see my review of May B.
Caroline Starr Rose Online: