Carol Larese Millward is the author of the YA novel Star in the Middle published by WestSide Books.Carol talks about her book and the impact it has had on her readers.
Just after the birth of her son, Star tries to cope with her new reality as a teenage single parent. Told in alternating points of view between Star and the father, Wil, each try and reconcile choices made and build a road for the future.
What lead you to write this story?
I worked with teen parents through two of Maryland Family Support Centers. I loved working with young families, but I was also struck by the impact an unplanned pregnancy can have on young lives. I wrote Star in the Middle to raise awareness about the difficulties teen parents face and the importance of teen pregnancy prevention programs.
Did alternating points of view make it more or less difficult to write?
Actually, it made it easier to write. Dual voices helped me focus on both parents and how each was dealing with the birth of their baby, how it changed their feelings for each other, and about themselves—and, of course, how they related to the baby in such different ways.
How has the novel been received?
I am so pleased when I visit teen book clubs and classrooms and hear the dialogue the book inspires! It was important to me to start a conversation about the issues my fictional characters face with young adults. I have heard good things from teen readers, educators and people working with teens, and adult readers. For reviews and comments from readers, please visit my website at http://www.carollaresemillward.com
What are the most important things you learned about marketing your book?
It’s important to get the word out early, long before the book is published. It’s an on-going process and it all takes time and energy. I love getting out there and talking about my book. It’s very important to me on so many levels!
Is there anything you wished you had known before you started writing this novel?
What an interesting question. I think Star in the Middle was the novel I was supposed to write. It felt right from the very beginning. I cared so deeply about the young families I worked with, and I continue to be committed to talking to teens about taking care of themselves and their dreams. That said, I wish I had known earlier that my character sketch of Star had the potential to be a novel!
Do you have an agent? How did you find your publisher?
I don’t have an agent. I attended a SCBWI conference and had a manuscript critiqued by author, Beckie Weinheimer (Converting Kate). When information about WestSide Books crossed her computer screen, she encouraged me to send my manuscript. Star in the Middle was actually the second manuscript I submitted to WestSide Books. I am still revising the first!
What are you working on now?
I have several projects going. I’m still revising The Winged Moon, my first YA novel manuscript, and I’m writing another YA manuscript entitled Changing Colors. I have a Halloween picture book manuscript, Mrs. Shimmhog’s Broom, that I’m revising and hope to get in the mail in the next week or two.
Carol, thanks for taking the time to give us a peek behind the scenes.
This novel is a great way to create avenues for discussion about healthy lifestyle choices with the teens in your life. You can find out more about Carol and her debut novel, Star in the Middle at www.carollaresemillward.com. Contact Carol about author visits and book club discussions. The book can be purchased on Amazon.com which, of course, you should do right now.
Are you a children’s or YA author? Let’s tell the world about your hard work! Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.