Meet the Author: Carmella Van Vleet
Have you ever wondered who writes our books? Find out in our Meet the Author blog series!
Nomad authors are the foundation on which our house is built, the soil in which our garden grows, the scaffolding on which we balance to hang our wallpaper, and any other metaphor you can think of that means indispensable.
Each week, we'll highlight one of our amazing authors and find out what makes them tick. These interviews are perfect for classrooms and homeschools! Do you know kids who want to be writers? Here's a way to show them how it's done.
Introducing Carmella Van Vleet!
Carmella's books:Aviation: Cool Women Who Fly
Explore Electricity! With 25 Great Projects
Seven Wonders of the World: Discover Amazing Monuments to Civilization with 20 Projects
Explore Ancient Greece! 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments
Explore Ancient Rome! 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments
Amazing Ben Franklin Inventions You Can Build Yourself
Explore Ancient Egypt! 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments
Great Ancient Egypt Projects You Can Build Yourself
Why become a writer?
I became a writer because I love to read! When I was younger, I loved how authors could “see into my world.” It was a special kind of magic. And now I get to spend my days writing books for the kid in me and other kids - it’s the best job I can think of and the only one I’ve wanted to do since I was seven. (When I was seven, my teacher gave everyone an old book jacket and told us to write a story based on the cover. I was like, “What? I GET to write a story? Cool!”)
What is your researching process?
When I’m writing a non-fiction book, I usually start by reading books that other children’s authors have written. They tend to give me a great, basic understanding about my subject. Next, I begin taking notes. It’s kind of like making your way into a forest. Once I get going, I always find other paths I want to explore. I figure if I find something interesting, then other people probably will, too.
What is your writing process?
My writing process depends on whether or not I’m writing fiction or non-fiction. With non-fiction, I start with a general outline. I spend the first part of the week researching and the last part of the week writing. I tend to do more research while writing, too. This is because questions will come up or I’ll wonder about something and want to explore it more. I begin each day by re-reading and revising the pages from the day before.
When I’m writing non-fiction I can have music on or people all around me and still be focused. But when I’m writing fiction, I have to have a quiet space. And I often work without an outline at first. Once I get to know my characters and a little bit about the trouble they’re going to get into, I’ll put together an outline. I always know how a book will end before I start it.
What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
I had LOTS of favorites! But if I have to narrow it down, I pick these: The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone (the first book I remember my mom reading to me), Ramona The Pest by Beverly Cleary (the first book I read all by myself), and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. (My fourth grade class listened to this book on tape and I fell absolutely in love - who doesn't secretly wish they could hide out in a museum?)
What problem of the world would you most like to see solved?
It sure would be nice if we could eliminate bullying. It hurts an awful lot of people.
If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
My superpower would be flying!
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be a writer?
Read, read, and then read some more. Next, sit down and WRITE. Like anything worthwhile, you need a lot of practice. When the voice inside your head tells you that your story is terrible, shrug and tell it, “Yo. Be quiet. I’m working here.”
Talk to other kids who like to write or find a teacher who can give you constructive feedback. (Writers must be open to critiques; they’re part of the business.) Write to authors or check out their websites; many of them offer advice for young people. For example, I have some book suggestions for kids who want to be writers on my website, www.CarmellaVanVleet.com.