Author Interview & Review: The Scoop on Carol Weston

by Veronica Vivona
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Author Carol Weston has accomplished so much throughout her life! As a writer, she has written multiple books and regularly contributes to major magazines and newspapers. She’s the voice behind Girls’ Life’s “Dear Carol” and loves being able to help girls with their problems.

Carol’s latest novel, Speed of Life, came out just about a year ago. Since then, it has become a major hit! We were able to get our hands on a copy of this lovely novel and read it ourselves! You can check out our review of Speed of Life below:

Review of Speed of Life by Carol Weston

Speed of Life is one of those books that will make you laugh… and then immediately make you cry. (In a good way!) I love a novel that shows middle-schoolers that it’s okay to be sad or upset. Too often, we shove kids down for simply feeling or for being too overwhelmed with whatever is going on in their life. This novel shows that it’s okay to feel things. Not only is it okay, but it’s natural.

Sofia, the protagonist of the novel, is in grief because her mom recently died and she just can’t seem to move on from the traumatic event. Sofia then starts writing to an advice columnist called “Dear Kate.” The novel follows Sofia for a year as she gains knowledge from Dear Kate and continues to adjust to her new life without her mom. Although Dear Kate helps Sofia, things are not always as they seem. This novel continuously shows that life isn’t always the easiest thing to figure out. Sofia learns though that just because bad things happen, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the road.

This novel is the perfect must-read for anyone in their pre-teens or teens. Beyond that though, I personally loved the novel and I’m certainly not in that age group anymore! This story is incredible, enlightening, and encouraging. Like I said before, it’s somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster, but that’s what makes it so wonderful! I think Speed of Life is simply just one of those books that everyone needs to read for themselves.

Q&A with Carol Weston

After reading Speed of Life, we were able to sit down and chat with Carol Weston herself! We learned more about her novels, her love for her family, and what advice she would give to aspiring writers. Check it out here:

Just to start, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what it is that you do?

I’m an advice columnist and have written 16 books, half fiction, half nonfiction, for kids, teens, and adults. I like cats, walks, art museums, dark chocolate…

What were you up to before you became an author?

My first book came out when I was 28. Before that? Hmmm. I was a kid in Armonk, New York. I was a high school senior in France with a program called SYA. I studied literature at Yale and attended grad school with Middlebury in Spain. I married young, and Rob and I lived in Ohio and Illinois before moving to New York’s Upper West Side, where we’ve lived ever since.

What inspired you to become a writer?

My mom was a magazine editor who yearned to write a novel, so I think I picked up on her dream. As a kid, I wasn’t a bookworm, but I always had a diary. My pencils had teeth marks! Becoming a writer wasn’t a decision. Making a go of it, that took persistence.

GIRLTALK: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You was your first novel. What inspired you to write that book and how did it help you start your career as an author?

I started writing for Seventeen Magazine in college and knew I wanted to Write a Book. But about what? All I’d done was grow up… Suddenly I realized I could write a friendly and helpful guide for girls. There wasn’t anything like it on the shelves and I was lucky that Girltalk was soon translated into a dozen languages. In 1994, Girls’ Life asked me to be “Dear Carol.” I’ve been writing that advice column ever since that magazine’s first issue.

You have also written the Ava Wren series. What inspired you? How would you describe your relationship with Ava now?

I love Ava! She’s in fifth grade and is a great speller and knows a pile of palindromes, but poor kid, she feels invisible in her own family. There are three books in that series (Taco Cat is based on our rescue cat), and I wrote the Melanie Martin four-book series for Knopf before that. Melanie’s mom is an art teacher . She was my alter-ego.

Your most recent novel, Speed of Life, has become a hit! You say that you poured your heart and soul into it. What is this novel about and how did you become so passionate about it?

Speed of Life took ten years to ripen. Can you imagine?? I just kept rewriting and revising. So yes, it was mighty nice when it received critical acclaim. It’s about a 14-year-old girl who thinks her life is over when really, it’s just beginning. More specifically, it’s a year in the life of Sofia, whose mother died. Her friends are there for her, but after many months, they expect her to “move on.” Yet you can’t rush grief. (I know this because I lost my beloved dad too young.) That said, Sofia does find new love. And an advice columnist, Dear Kate, is part of a plot twist…

You write in other spaces, including for The New York Times. You also are the mastermind behind “Dear Carol” at Girls’ Life. What do you enjoy most about writing these types of things?

I’ve had nearly 50 Letters to the Editor published in The New York Times, and yep, it’s gratifying to opine in print. And faster than writing a book! I enjoy being “Dear Carol” for many reasons. 1. I can do good deeds in my pajamas. 2. Answering mail also helps me stay in touch with what girls think about. 3. How often do people want you to meddle in their personal lives?

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

If I have an idea, I don’t just hope I will remember it. I email myself, or scribble it on a napkin and stuff it in my purse; but I get it down. After I’ve written a first draft of a book, I revise it and tighten it for months, and then have friends and family offer feedback, gentlest person first. (The first reader should say, “This is amazing!” The next can tear it to pieces.)

Is there a fun fact about yourself that might surprise our readers?

I was never a jock and I used to hate winter. But now I’m a fearless skier!

Bonus fun facts: My daughter Lizzi and her husband founded Birch Benders Micro-Pancakery. My daughter Emme (a palindrome!) works for NBC. My husband Rob is a playwright and works for SNL.

Final fun fact: I speak four languages! (I’m a word nerd, and Italian was on my bucket list.)

Who inspires you the most to write?

Hard question. Deadlines? For my new book, maybe a promise I made to a girl in a painting?

What do you want kids to gain the most from your novels?

I could say “empathy,” but really, I want kids to enjoy my books, and I love helping reluctant readers turn into readers.

What advice would you give to struggling writers out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?

Keep at it. Rejection is part of this business. I still get rejected. I still don’t like it. But if you believe in your project, keep working. Take breaks too so you can approach your pages with a fresh point of view. Even taking my draft to the library or printing it out on colorful paper gives me new energy.

Your career seems boundless. Where do you see yourself going from here?

Don’t know about boundless, but I love Diego Velazquez, the great Spanish painter, and I want to share that love. I’m now working on a novel that’s set in Spain in the 1600s. It’s my first historical fiction, so it’s been a departure.

Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with our readers?

Keep reading and writing. Be kind. Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. And have fun!

To learn more about Carol Weston, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

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