Janet Lee Carey is the award-winning author of nine Young Adult novels including her newest release, In the Time of Dragon Moon, book three of the Wilde Island Chronicles, ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Winner of the Mark Twain Award and finalist for the Washington State Book Award, her books highlight the courage of children and teens, and explore the challenges of staying true to your values while following your dreams. School Library Journal starred review calls her work, “fantasy at its best-original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving.” Statistics have shown that children who read are more compassionate. Janet links each new book with a charitable organization empowering youth to read and reach out. She tours the U.S. and abroad presenting at schools, book festivals and conferences for writers, teachers, and librarians. Janet and her family live near Seattle by a lake where rising morning mist forms into the shape of dragons.
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Some early indications are:
1) An overactive imagination: ask them what they’re thinking about and you might hear a discourse on the possibility of hidden life forms on the moon. Or they may wonder what it would be like to shrink down very small and sail across the pond in a walnut shell.
2) Library fines: many future authors have a hard time parting with books even after they’ve read them.
3) The inordinate amount of time spent staring out the window. If this sounds like you or anyone else you know, beware, these are sure signs of a writer in the making.
Given the three warning signs above, I would have been easily spotted. My overactive imagination often got me into trouble, as did my library fines. And of course, I spent hours in school staring out the window. I’d imagine gigantic vines growing up the walls. Over hundreds of years they’d wrap their great green arms around every building at Old Mill School. They’d creep silently thorough the windows, and hug the desks until they turned to dust. Eventually there’d be nothing left of my school but a wild jungle and a few oddly shaped stones. Imagining a silent war between greenery and architecture was one of my favorite ways to waste time in school and I blame any holes in my early education on this particular day-dream.
My fifth grade teacher once told my mother that I was a square peg (people are supposed to be round pegs for some reason). Anyway, she said I was definitely different, but that I might turn out all right. I loved that teacher because she understood the power and pleasure of books. She read Johnny Tremain to the class. And she introduced me to The Hobbit.
I always loved reading. After school, I’d rush home and settle myself in the high branches of a tree to read all about Narnia or Middle-earth. Every book was a secret door to another world and I wanted in. I firmly believed if I was very good and very observant, I’d find that special secret door which led to a magic world. After all, Alice found her way to wonderland and Lucy discovered Narnia, and they weren’t any smarter or nicer than I was. Well, I’m grown up now, and I’ve never found a hidden door inside a wardrobe, fallen down a rabbit hole, or had a tornado blow my house into the land of OZ but I’ve found the next best thing and that’s writing stories.
Writing is my own secret doorway into other worlds. Some days I sit at my computer and fall so deeply into my story world that I leave my desk to eat breakfast and discover it’s way past lunch time. (My husband has gotten used to seeing me stagger into the kitchen to attack a bowl of cornflakes at about 12:45.) If you ever lose track of time while you’re doing something fun, whether it’s playing your favorite sport, playing with clay, singing, dancing, drawing, or writing a story, then you know what I’m talking about.
I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love. I think if I didn’t write books, I’d go nuts. I mean how much time can you sit around imagining huge jungle vines swallowing up buildings? By the way, I visited my old elementary school in Mill Valley California last month, and there’s no sign of any creepers yet, but I did notice a clump of redwoods huddled near my sixth grade classroom, and I could swear they were whispering.
P.S. I’d better tell you some biographical information in case you’re writing a book report (although you could get some of this stuff off the dust jacket). I was born in New York, raised in Mill Valley, California, and now live near Seattle, Washington. I’m married and have three terrific sons. When I’m not writing books or articles, I’m off somewhere teaching a writing workshop. Of course I do ordinary things too like clean house, cook dinner and walk in the rain (it’s almost always raining here). Well, that’s about it. If you have any more questions, send me an e-mail . I’d like to know the kind of things you imagine when you stare out the window.