Carol Gordon Ekster is a writer who uses her creative abilities to discuss real world problems with kids. From divorce to cleaning up a messy room, Carol finds fun, entertaining ways for kids to deal with the issues in their lives. Ready to learn more? Then on to the interview!
Q: When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author? What made you want to choose this career path?
A: My desire to write surprised me. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I worked with children on their writing as a 4th grade teacher for 35 years. I had writing workshops and conferenced with each child individually to give them feedback on their work. When I started writing, I certainly had empathy for my students. Getting feedback, at first, was not easy.
Writing just came to me one day on the beach when I was fifty years old. I needed to write. I went to the car and got post-its and a pen and started my first story. Until then, I had always found writing a difficult skill. It is difficult…lots of skills are needed to do it well.
I stepped into the life of a writer, joining SCBWI, becoming passionate about the craft, reading many books on writing and joining critique groups. I stuck to my new path and never looked back. It was wonderful to be able to share my journey of becoming an author as well as the writing process with my classes. Now that I’m retired, it is the writing that allows me to continue communicating with children.
Q: Who are some of the authors that greatly influenced your writing style? What were some of your favorite books as a kid?
A: I believe I have my own writing style, but I’ve read so many books and respect and admire countless authors of children’s books and adult books. I found picture books to enhance all areas of the curriculum when I taught. I usually read a few a day to my students…so I was preparing myself for becoming a writer. I knew what I liked…beautiful language and a story well told. When I was a kid, I loved Nancy Drew books best of all. Now I rarely read mysteries.
Q: Did you have a hard time getting your first book published?
A: My first book, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?-A Story of Divorce, Boulden Publishing, 2008, was published about two years after I started sending it out, and less than two years after I started writing. It was bought by the 12th publisher I sent it to. That was the 20th manuscript I had written. My second book, which is expected out this fall, Ruth The Sleuth and The Messy Room, sold the 16th time I sent it out. It was the 30th story I had written. I also sold the 24th manuscript I wrote to a magazine. The second time I sent that out, I got a request for a rewrite. Then the publisher said they were interested in the rewrite, but they ended up changing offices and staff, and I never received a contract. So after about 20 other tries to get it published as a book, I decided I just wanted the story shared with children and accepted that it was time to let it go as a magazine piece. I try to stay focused on working on my craft and enjoying the submitting process, and if something sells, well that’s a bonus. Sometimes, I still get disappointed when I get a rejection, but mostly I prepare to send it out again to another publisher.
Q: Assuming that you write for children or young adults, what made you decide to write for those age groups? Do you still feel connected to your “inner child”?
A: I definitely feel connected to my inner child, but I believe it’s the teacher in me that pushes me to write for children.
Q: What are some of your hobbies, other than writing?
A: I love doing yoga, aerobics, and going bike riding. I love to vacation and be with family. And of course, I love to read. I always have a book on CD that I’m listening to in the car, and one near my bed. I also enjoy cooking healthy meals. When I taught, I spent a lot of time looking for new teaching ideas and web sites to use with my students.
Q: Do you have any sage advice for new authors who are just entering the field?
A: Most importantly, writers must persevere and not get disheartened. Continue working on your craft and submitting your work. You must belong to writing groups or have other writers give you feedback. We do not write alone.
Q: Do you hold any other jobs outside of your writing? If so, do you find that this helps your writing or gets in the way?
A: Being retired now allows me the time I need to write and promote my books.
Q: If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
A: Carolyn Keene, because she made me love reading and understand the power of a good book.
Q: Do you have any other information you would like to share, such as a website, author page, awards won, etc.?