Carrie Pearson lives in Marquette, Michigan on the sandy shore of Lake Superior. She is a former early elementary teacher and nonprofit development officer. Currently, she is the co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI-Michigan. Along with her husband and their three daughters (and two labradoodles), she hikes, bikes, runs, and skis in the woods, windsurfs, kayaks, stand-up paddles, and swims in the chilly water and writes about what she experiences around her. To learn more about Carrie and her writing, visit her website and blog.
What is the last thing you paid money for?
Replacement cheater glasses in the Detroit Metro airport. Aging is a cruel joke.
What do you often make fun of?
Aging. But, it often isn’t funny.
What is one thing you do with determination every day?
I make an essential skinny mocha. My sweet husband, whose body alarm clock goes off just as the sun decides to stretch one infinitesimal beam of light over the horizon, sets out the ingredients in the kitchen — including the mug of the day. All I have to do is heat the water in the pot, toss the stuff in my mug with a splash of skim milk, stir, drink in the heavenly potion, and I’m determinedly on my way for the day.
What healthy habit are you glad you have?
I’m glad I habitually like to be outside. Usually I like to exercise outside, but even if my heart rate isn’t above 120, I need to feel the real temperature, smell the dirt and leaves in the woods, and take in the flora and fauna. If I’m cooped up too long at a conference or a daughter’s volleyball tournament, my teeth grow into pointy fangs.
The Biggest advantage of being short?
Being short [5’3” on a light gravity day] means people often think I am less capable or a bit weak. I love to surprise them by hauling a heavy item – like a bag of groceries or something.
What would you title your autobiography?
Serendipity: How Chance Favored a (Decently) Prepared Mind
What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone?
Their handshake. Firm, but not lingering? Dry, but not scratchy? Confident, but not dominant? Lots to learn about someone here…
If you were a prescription drug, what would be your main side effect?
Sustained, appropriate euphoria. How cool would that be?
What is the worst occupation in the world?
Wherever workers must do the same thing in the same way day after day. That’s my version of hell.
What is your greatest phobia?
Being trapped in a small space without light or air. Jeez, I’m creeped out now. Thanks a lot.
What is the messiest place in your home?
The entryway. It’s the portal from the outer world to our inner happenings. Every day and night (we have three teenagers whose plans with friends all seem to gel at 10:00 PM), five people and two dogs pass through this space hundreds of times sloughing remnants of their experiences OUT THERE. The entryway is always messy and slightly dirty despite my Swiffer sweeper standing at the ready in a corner.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in the field of writing?
Be prepared to never be done. We can always be better at craft, at composition, at being brave. We are works in progress ourselves and therefore, our products will only reflect where we are now. We have to be willing to be okay with that.
Why were you drawn to a career in writing instead of to a job that might offer more stability and security?
Writing offers the ultimate flexibility. We can toil away in private or at a coffee house, among comrades, or in complete solitude. Also, to me, each book is a small business requiring a marketing and operations plan. This appeals to my entrepreneurial side.
Who do you consider a literary genius?
It sounds trite, but I pick J.K. Rowling. I’m not sure if she knew all that she was doing with that series, but the layers and subplots and underlying themes are crazy genius.
What obstacles have you had to deal with in your career?
Learning how to wait for feedback, sales, contracts, etc. It’s not my strong suit, but I had a chance to spend some one-on-one time with Jane Yolen who said she still waits. Right then, I realized I’d better stop being bitter about waiting and just get on with it.
How did you pick your writing genre?
I actually hope I don’t pick a genre. I’d like to explore many and this is happening now. My two published books are nature nonfiction picture books, I have a middle grade historical on submission as well as two other picture books that are fiction but with strong reality underpinnings. My two works in progress are a picture book biography and middle grade animal realistic fantasy with series potential. This may not be good for my career, but it makes me a happy writer and I believe that happiness results in better books.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have compared to people who are not creative?
Creative people are a bit odd, I think. We see things unexpectedly. I know I am creatively odd when I reflect on a topic (“that mushroom would make a great umbrella for a deer mouse”) and my partner will respond with, “What have you been smokin’ today?” Creative people ask, “I wonder what would happen if I did this?” and they try it on. For instance, one of my picture books on submission right now explores how the living environments of city chickens and country chickens are different and it’s told through an a cappella singing contest between the two flocks. That’s a bit odd, right? But, it seems to work okay.
Do you ever feel that you have to censor your creativity because you don’t want to offend anyone?
I do struggle with this a bit. I’m not worried about offending anyone, but I do want the content to be appropriate for my readers. This is part of writing for less mature audiences though and the clever part is finding a way to make it interesting for caregivers who are reading to children, too. They are the gatekeepers after all.
Do you do anything special to get your creative juices flowing?
I’ve always had to clear away obligations before I can enter Happy Writing Brain. But, linking back to that earlier aging thread, I’m finding Happy Writing Brain is becoming much more insistent and downright sassafras about beingfirst. And, that’s a good thing.