YA Writer Wednesdays welcomes Carol Larese Millward, author of STAR IN THE MIDDLE! Comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of STAR IN THE MIDDLE! I'll draw a winner at random this coming Tuesday!
What’s your book about? Star in the Middle is a story about teen parents. One of my favorite comments about the book was from a reader who said, “I think that this is a really important story to tell, but you managed to tell it without sounding preachy. It managed to not be an issue novel like so many YA books out there, but a novel about a girl and her life that covers important issues.” She went on to say that she was glad I didn’t let the teen father off the hook—and shared that at times she hated this young father, but in the end she had sympathy for him. My goal as a writer is to create characters that tell their own stories—even if they are unlikable at times.
What inspired you to write this book? I worked with teen parents through family centers for several years and found that they all had stories to tell. I wanted to explore some of the issues they faced through my fictional characters. It is gratifying to talk to teens during school visits and hear the dialogue the book has generated about the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy.
When did it release? Star in the Middle was published by WestSide Books in October 2009.
The book trailer for Star in the Middle was a Shelf Awareness Book Trailer of the Day selection! View it here.
Has the reality of being published been different than you thought it would be? To be honest, I’m not sure what I expected. I definitely have learned so much from the experience—and since it has always been my dream to be published, it is gratifying in more ways than I imagined.
Check out the Star in the Middle fanpage on Facebook.
What is the best part of being published? The best part of being published is my contact with teen groups. Young adults are such savvy readers and bring so much to discussions about issues facing teens. It is good to hear the thoughts and ideas they share, and I am often struck by their genuine empathy for others. I’ve also enjoyed talking to adult groups and hearing their perspective on teen parenting issues. I wanted to raise awareness about the importance of teen pregnancy prevention programs and hope that Star in the Middle does that.
Who is your publisher? Tell us your story—how’d you become a published author? I signed up for a critique session during an SCBWI conference several years ago. Beckie Weinheimer, Converting Kate (Viking Juvenile/March 2007), did my critique that day, and we kept in touch. When Beckie heard about a new publisher who was looking for submissions, she suggested I send my manuscript. WestSide Books didn’t publish that submission, but they did publish my next novel, Star in the Middle.
Do you write from an outline, or are you a “pantser”? I start out with an outline, but my characters are not very cooperative at times. I find that writing fairly detailed character sketches works well as preparation for a WIP, and that’s what ultimately drives the story.
Who is your favorite author? What is it about his or her writing that has made you a fan? I admire Anne Tyler. She has remained my favorite author for many years. Ms. Tyler’s characters are quirky and entertaining and she tells their stories with so much heart. She is a skilled writer, a unique storyteller, and a beloved author. I am so inspired to write after reading one of her books.
Why YA as opposed to some other genre? First came teen writing. When I tested and tutored GED students, I was drawn to their practice essays. The issues they addressed were so interesting. They seemed to, at least through their writings, grab at the world with a fierce enthusiasm. I write picture book manuscripts as well, but I love teen voices.
Email Carol Larese Millward at: email@example.com