My Writer's Journal

Behind the Books: The True Adventures of Charley Darwin

August 23, 2013

I knew it was a risk, for several reasons. I had taken a break from writing about royalty with books about a dancer who modeled for a well-known painter (MARIE, DANCING), the wife of the most famous playwright in the English language (LOVING WILL SHAKESPEARE), and the sister of one of the world best-known composers (IN MOZART'S SHADOW). So--why not a book about a male character and a scientist whose theories are still for some reason controversial? What about a novel about that scientist--not as an old man with a long, white beard, but as a boy interested in rocks and birds' eggs who discovers his passion and becomes a great natural scientist?

Why not write a book about CHARLEY DARWIN?

And what a character Charley turned out to be! He was bored silly with school but curious about the world. His father despaired that he would ever amount to anything and would be a lasting disgrace to his family. He fell hopelessly in love with a girl who had other things was not much interested in a man with no profession in mind. He embarked on a sea voyage that was supposed to last for two years and went on for five. He collected so much stuff that nobody knew what to do with it all.

I visited the Darwin home in Shrewsbury, England, the school that he disliked so much, and the home of the girl who wouldn't wait for him. I wish I could have followed his sea route around the world, but that was beyond me. I think I fell a little bit in love with Charley, and I certainly loved writing about him.

Behind the Books: In Mozart's Shadow

August 10, 2013

In Mozart's Shadow
Imagine being a young girl, an enormously talented musician, with the bad luck of being the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! That was the fate of Nannerl, growing up in Salzburg in the shadow of a bratty kid brother, a snotty little genius who got all the attention. Add to that a domineering father bent on promoting his amazing son, and a mother willing to sacrifice everything.

Fortunately for this 21st century writer, when the Mozart family went on the road to showcase their musical children and to gain fame and fortune, they wrote lots and lots of letters, and I am forever grateful to the scholar who collected them and translated them from German to English, because those letters provided the basis for the story.

A trip to Austria and to everything Mozart--of which there is plenty--didn't hurt, either. And I do love wienerschnitzel.

Behind the Books: Loving Will Shakespeare

August 4, 2013

Loving Will Shakespeare
Interesting, how one thing leads to another. I so much enjoyed researching and writing about a young dancer in 19th century Paris that I wanted to write another story about a relatively unknown figure associated with a great one. Anne Hathaway, wife of Will Shakespeare, was a natural. I already knew something about the Tudor world, and who doesn't recognize the name of Shakespeare!

There has been much ado about Will for centuries, but the amazing thing is how little is actually known about Will's life. I chased down whatever I could find out about his parents, his siblings, the church the family attended, the kind of schooling Will likely had. I researched a glove-making, ale-brewing, sheep-shearing, and the effects of the plague that swept through the countryside and killed so many people. I investigated the dances people enjoyed, the songs they sang, the food they ate, the crops they grew, the clothes they wore, the houses they lived in, the things they bought and sold at the weekly market.

I explored Anne Hathaway's cottage outside of Stratford-on-Avon, and stayed at a house across from Will's grandmother's farm in Wilmcote, a few miles away. The house existed in Will's time. I'm sure Will used to warm himself by that fireplace and gaze out of those windows. I dreamed the fictional dream and tried to bring it to life in the book. And I wish I could do it all over again.

Fiction for Young Adults

Three gutsy girls go looking for adventure in the West in the 1920's
Anastasia and her three sisters are the privileged daughters of the richest man in the world, until their world begins to crumble.
YA Historical Fiction
What's it like to be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world? When Helen of Troy elopes with Paris, her daughter, Hermione, stows away on a Greek ship in search of her mother, hoping to bring her home--and perhaps to find a love of her own.
The future queen of England lives a life of privilege, but privilege comes with a steep price of isolation and loneliness--until she meets Albert.
She leaves Scotland as a child, is sent to France to marry the future king, returns to Scotland as a young woman to rule; a wild queen in a wild country.
First published in 1992, my first historical novel, has been reissued with a new cover.
Cleopatra has been chosen to be the next queen of Egypt, but she faces ruthless competition from her sisters. (Watch a video of Carolyn on this page)
The dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France. Young Royals series
Who would not fall in love with--or at least have a mad crush on--young Will!
Marie van Goethen was a dancer in 19th century Paris and modeled for Degas's famous sculpture.
A fictionalized account of the early life of Charles Darwin, narrated by Charley himself.
Mozart's talented sister, Nannerl, struggles to achieve life she deserves--in music as well as in love.
Contemporary YA
Four characters, four big issues, four compelling stories: BECAUSE OF LISSA; THE PROBLEM WITH SIDNEY; GILLIAN'S CHOICE; THE TWO FACES OF ADAM

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