Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Meet the award winning author - Carolyn Mackler

Today we have the delightful pleasure of talking to Carolyn Mackler. She won the Printz Honor award in 2004 for her book The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. Oh how I love that cover!

About the book:

Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex. She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and follows the "Fat Girl Code of Conduct." Her stuttering best friend has just moved to Walla Walla (of all places). Her new companion, Froggy Welsh the Fourth (real name), has just succeeded in getting his hand up her shirt, and she lives in fear that he’ll look underneath. Then there are the other Shreves: Mom, the successful psychologist and exercise fiend; Dad, a top executive who ogles thin women on TV; and older siblings Anaïs and rugby god Byron, both of them slim and brilliant. Delete Virginia, and the Shreves would be a picture-perfect family. Or so she’s convinced. And then a shocking phone call changes everything.

About the author:

Carolyn Mackler is the author of the award-winning teen novels, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (A Michael L. Printz Honor Book), Vegan Virgin Valentine, Love and Other Four-Letter Words, and Guyaholic. Carolyn’s novels have been published in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Israel, and Indonesia. Carolyn lives with her husband and young son in New York City. A graduate of Vassar College, she is currently working on her fifth novel for teenagers. You can visit her on the web at

The interview:

2k8: Can you tell us about "the call," when the Printz committee called you, and what transpired afterward on that special day?

Carolyn: On the morning the awards were announced, I had my ringer off on my phone. That's what I used to do when I wrote, before I had a child and needed to be more in touch with the world. Also, that shows how much I had NO CLUE that The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things was being considered for Printz Honor. But then, mid-morning, I decided to check my messages. And there it was - the chair of the Printz Committee, congratulating me on getting a Printz Honor. I flipped! I started screaming, shouting, jumping around my apartment. I called my husband, my agent, my parents - and basically couldn't stop hyperventilating. And then, throughout the rest of the day, calls and emails poured in from writer-friends all around the country. Sort of like my birthday, only less expected and with a shiny silver sticker involved.

2k8: Has winning a prestigious award affected your writing in any way? Is it harder now, or easier?

Carolyn: For a while after, I struggled a bit with my writing. I had this idea that a Printz Honor-winner should have a certain type of book - not that I had any clue what that book was. So after a few months I ignored that voice in my head and got back to the business of telling stories and enjoying the writing process. I wouldn't say it's easier or harder now because of the award. Writing is always a blend for me - hard with a dash of easy. Or, on the good days, easy with a pinch of hard.

2k8: If your current writer self could travel back in time to talk to your debut novelist self, what advice would you give him/her?

Carolyn: Stay true to myself. Try hard not to compare myself to others. Enjoy the process. Make an attempt to show up at the computer almost every day. Though be sure to take time off, too! I didn't take much time off in the early days.

2k8: And to end on a light note - what fun things do you have planned for this summer?

Carolyn: I'm currently a judge for the National Book Award - young people's literature. So I'm reading all summer - more than 250 books total. It's intense. Other than that, spending lots of time with my family. We're going up to the Adirondacks in a few weeks and I'm counting the seconds until that. Lots of swimming and hiking and - you guessed it - reading.

Wow, I'll say you'll be doing some reading. Thank you so much for joining us, Carolyn.


courtneywrites said...

Awesome interview -- have a great vacation, Carolyn!

Jody Feldman said...

I love the part about next-book expectations, something I know a lot of people struggle with. Thanks, Carolyn!

PJ Hoover said...

Wow! Very cool interview! And I love the cover, too!

Mrs. V said...

You had a great idea for this week. I have enjoyed reading about the Printz authors. I had never heard about this book before, but I also love the cover and as soon as I read the title it cracked me up. I can't wait to read it someday!

Ellen Booraem said...

Great advice about not comparing yourself to others, which can be the high road to paralysis. Loved the story about the ringer being turned off!!

Anonymous said...


What a treat to hear your story about winning the award. I recently finished your book, it's wonderful! Best, Zu

Barrie said...

I really enjoyed this interview. Thank you. And, uh, good luck with 250 books!