When I was in grade school and middle school, I wrote all the time. I filled dozens of diaries with ordinary words about whether my crush said hi and what I had for lunch and how much I earned babysitting. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I found my voice and I lost my fear of the blank page.
In college, I majored in French and Spanish comparative literature and reveled in the extraordinary writing of Moliere and Marquez, Sartre and Fuentes. I also wrote my first published essay. In fact, I remember buying a magazine with my byline, clutching it to my chest, and crossing Silliman courtyard at Yale. A professor asked, "Aren’t you a little old to be reading Seventeen?" and I proudly showed him that I wasn’t reading it—I was writing for it.
My first book, GIRLTALK: All The Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (Harper Collins) has been in print ever since 1985 and has been translated into lots of languages. My other advice books include FOR GIRLS ONLY and PRIVATE AND PERSONAL and I’ve been writing the Dear Carol advice column for Girls’ Life since the magazine began in 1994.
I love the privilege of being a self-employed author and advice giver for girls. But in my heart, I knew that I had set out to be a novelist. Why couldn’t I find the courage to write fiction? Finally I gave myself some advice: How about writing for kids?
Out poured THE DIARY OF MELANIE MARTIN: Or How I Survived Matt the Brat, Michelangelo, and the Leaning Tower of Pizza (Knopf). It’s my seventh book, but first novel, and it’s the story of a Manhattan fourth grader who goes to Italy with her art teacher mom, history buff dad, and little brother Matt the Brat. You can find a review of it on this site.
I’m so glad that girls—and boys—have liked Melanie’s adventures, and I’m hoping to "escort" Melanie to other countries as well. MELANIE MARTIN GOES DUTCH, THE PRIVATE DIARY OF MY ALMOST BUMMER SUMMER WITH CECILY, MATT THE BRAT, AND VINCENT VAN GO GO GO will come out in the summer of 2002 and I hope to begin MELANIE MARTIN OLÉ in which the family will trek to Spain.
On a personal note, my husband, playwright Rob Ackerman, and I met in Madrid, Spain, and we live in Manhattan with our two middle school daughters, Elizabeth and Emme, as well as our bunny, mouse, and fish. My daughters inspire me often and when one of them says or does something funny, the other sometimes says, "Mom, write that down!" and tells me how to use it in an episode of a future Melanie novel.
My advice to young writers: Keep writing!
My advice to young readers: Come visit me at carolweston.com.
September 25, 2001
New York City