It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a weekly blog…
3 Little Known or Interesting Things About You
- My mother followed a guru and I was born on an ashram in San Francisco. There was a lot of incense and the color orange.
- I am double-jointed and can bend my fingers back against my hand in a way some people find alarming. I recently read about a fascinating study that found a link between double-jointedness and anxiety—and I am definitely also prone to being anxious!
- I was a late bloomer when it came to reading and I definitely struggled at first. But starting from the time I could talk, I always loved hearing and telling stories. Being able to write down my own stories was a huge motivator for me when I was learning to read and write as a kid.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Sleep deprivation. I am the mother of a toddler who wakes up at dawn every day, and sometimes I stay up much too late in the evenings. It’s hard for me to focus when I am very tired.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I am lucky to have made some lovely friends among other children’s writers with debut middle grade books coming out this spring and the months beyond. I highly recommend checking their books, especially my fellow March 2020 debuts How to Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero and My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner.
I’m also very fortunate to have a dear friend, Mai Wang, who is currently studying for her Phd. in English at Stanford while finishing up her first novel (she writes literary fiction). She understands so much about writing as a calling, and she’s hilarious and down-to-earth. We have been cheering each other on for years.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Great question! I could give you pages and pages of excited answers, but I will try to contain myself. In elementary and middle school I was a huge fan of the gothic mystery writer John Bellairs. He’s best known for The House with a Clock in its Walls, but most of his other middle grade books are now out of print, which is so sad. My favorite among his various works is the Johnny Dixon series, and I especially love The Chessmen of Doom. Crumbling New England mansions, grumpy English professors, lots of creepy antiques and dangerous magicians and Anglophile details—it hits all the high notes. Plus, the original Bellairs hardcovers all sported amazing wraparound Edward Gorey illustrations. Those were definitely what initially caught my eye about the books when I was a kid, and they introduced me to Gorey’s wider body of work, which I really loved as a child.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot or avatar?
Well, my first book, COO, is about pigeons, and my work-in-progress is about bees…but I think I would choose a tree of some kind. Maybe a large, ancient oak. I feel a great kinship with trees and immense gratitude for what they do. Since I was a child, I have felt that trees are like people, just a different kind of person from us humans.
About Your Books
Tell us about your book(s)-length of time it took to write, journey, publishing, release dates, etc.
COO took many, many years to write. The reason it took such a long time was because I was learning how to write a novel as I went along. In between working on it, I also did a lot of living! I went to college, traveled, worked lots of different jobs, and read all the time. I also tried writing other novels and short stories. But I always came back to COO, and kept working on it even when I felt stuck. It was published by Greenwillow on March 3, 2020.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
If you want to be a better writer, my first suggestion is always to read, read, read! Make sure you are reading widely and with attention to what’s on the page. You can do things like notice where in the book you feel like you can’t put it down (and try to figure out, why? How did the author do that?!). Similarly, you can also think about where in a narrative your interest starts to wane. But even if you aren’t asking critical questions about what you read, just reading on its own will help expand your vocabulary and understanding of the craft of writing. You can never read too much!
Leave us with some wise words. What advice would you give the readers of this interview?
You can never read too much! Be kind to others and to the earth and all that lives on it.
Leave some links for us to follow you and buy your books:
My website: www.kaelanoel.com
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/coo-kaela-noel/1130698118#/