Author Spotlight: Carrie Finison
August 7, 2020
Today we are excited to feature author Carrie Finison and her debut picture book, DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS, illustrated by Brianne Farley (G.P. Putnam's Sons for Young Readers, July 2020). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I began as a small zygote… No? Too far back?
In high school, I worked in the library, breathing in the smell of books… No? Still too far?
After college, I thought I’d be journalist but I’m not great at chatting up strangers… No, that’s not it.
In truth, I feel like most of my life has been pointing in this general direction. I’ve always been a reader. I’ve always loved words. And I’ve always been a fairly visual thinker. After my son was born in 2005 and we spent LOTS of time reading together and checking books out from the library, I thought I’d try my hand at writing for children. Actually, I was already doing that on a work-for-hire basis. I had worked full time for over 10 years in educational software as a producer, and continued doing content development for educational publishers on a freelance basis. When I didn’t have an assignment, working on my own creative stories seemed like a great thing to do during my son’s 3-hour naps, and things grew from there.
Congrats on your debut picture book, DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS. Tell us about it and what inspired you (and did you have to do a lot doughnut-eating for research?).
I’m not sorry to say that MANY doughnuts were harmed in the making of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS. (But I won’t say exactly how many!) In fact, not only did we buy plenty of doughnuts, but I learned to make doughnuts, as I developed a recipe to go with the book. That recipe didn’t make it into the final version due to page constraints, unfortunately, but I was able to use it as a fun giveaway for people who pre-ordered the book, and I have it up on my website.
The title came to me as I played around with the words in the title of another story, Double the Dinosaurs, that a friend was working on. Double the Dinosaurs became Double the Doughnuts, which then became DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS.
The story itself is harder to track. How did I come up with a bear making doughnuts in the woods? I’m not sure. It might have to do with an illustration that stuck in my head from a long-ago book – an image of a pig making pie and leaving it to cool on the windowsill, while animals outside snuck up, ready to steal it. In the first draft of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS, the bear left the fresh doughnuts outside to cool and they were stolen by other animals. Later, that storyline evolved into what it is today -- friends coming over and asking for a share.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I’d say it was somewhere in between. I started the story in June 2015 – so it’s been five years from beginning to publication. Maybe I’ve drunk too much publishing Kool-Aid, but that doesn’t sound too terrible! I recently counted the drafts and there were 89 from start to finish. That sounds like a lot, but not every draft represents substantial change. I save a new version every day that I work on a story, whether I change it drastically, or only one line. So that number really represents 89 different days when I did some amount of work on it.
What projects are you working on?
I feel very lucky to have four more picture books in the works (two of them as-yet unannounced). Here are the ones I can tell you about *without* having to kill you.
My second book is DON’T HUG DOUG, coming from Putnam in January, 2021, and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman. It’s a humorous book about consent and bodily autonomy. (I know that sounds like a hard topic to make humorous, but I promise it’s funny!) After that, HURRY, LITTLE TORTOISE is coming from Random House in 2022, illustrated by Erin Balzer. It’s about a cute little tortoise who thinks she is super fast, but her illusions of grandeur are blown away by her classmates who keep passing her on the way to school. It has a twist at the end that I hope will leave readers smiling.
In terms of the writing I’m doing right now, I have a couple of all-dialogue picture books that I’m focused on, which is new for me. I’m trying to figure out if they have potential as graphic novels, so I’ve been reading a LOT of graphic novels!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same as you would give to aspiring authors?
Well, the first thing that came to mind was “learn to draw so you can illustrate, too!” I’m not sure if that’s advice I would hand out, though! It’s easy to say in retrospect, but I don’t know that my younger self would have had the passion for making visual art that illustrators need.
I would also encourage my younger self (any my current self!) to soak in more new things and experiences…throw caution to the wind a little more. Besides being fun, these experiences, whether good or bad, can become fodder for your writing.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I’m listed in the Internet Movie Database for an appearance on Ask This Old House. The team came to our house and installed a shut-off valve on our clothes washer. Exciting times! That’s about as close as I’ve come – and probably as close as I’ll ever get – to television fame.
Where can people find you online?
The best way to stay on top of news, and also get access to special members-only sneak-peeks and giveaways and offers is to subscribe to my newsletter: https://www.carriefinison.com/newsletter
You can also find me on social media:
Carrie Finison began her literary career at the age of seven with an idea, a box of markers, and her father’s typewriter. She has been writing off and on ever since, though she has (somewhat regretfully) traded in the typewriter for a laptop. Her debut picture book is DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS (July, 2020), and a second picture book, DON’T HUG DOUG, will follow in January, 2021. She also writes for children's magazines including Babybug, Ladybug, High Five, and Highlights. When she’s not writing, Carrie enjoys reading mystery novels, trying new recipes, and curling up on the couch for family movie nights. She lives outside Boston with her husband, son, daughter, and two cats who permit her to write in their cozy attic office. Find her online at www.carriefinison.com or on Twitter @CarrieFinison.