Author Spotlight: Caroline Gertler
January 8, 2021
We are thrilled to feature author Caroline Gertler and her debut middle grade novel, MANY POINTS OF ME (Greenwillow Books) out on January 12, 2021.
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Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I grew up in New York City, the third of four children—a good position in sibling order to become an observer of the world. I always knew I wanted to be a writer. My favorite time as a reader was the middle grade years, eight to twelve. I relished that feeling of being immersed in a story and not wanting it to end. Each book felt like a new discovery—like it had been written just for me to read and enjoy its brilliance.
In college, I got my first internship in publishing, for incredible children’s book editor Christy Ottaviano. I learned so much from her, and that’s when I decided it was the field for me. I got my MA in art history, and worked in children’s publishing for six years. The whole time, I was writing and learning the craft. I left publishing when my first daughter was born, and now, eleven years later, my first book is being published.
Congrats on your debut MG novel, MANY POINTS OF ME! Tell us about the book and what inspired you.
Many Points of Me is about Georgia Rosenbloom, who’s grieving the loss of her father, a famous artist. When Georgia finds a sketch that Dad made of her before he died, she sets out to prove that he intended to paint her for his last, great unfinished painting. Set in New York City, this is a story of creativity, grief, friendship, and finding the many different points of yourself.
I set out to write an art mystery and an ode to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I’ve worked in the bookstore, and am now a volunteer docent. But as I got to know the characters over many years and drafts, it turned into the deeper, more emotional, coming-of-age story that it is now.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
My initial reaction is to say, “long and winding,” but maybe I should actually go with something in between. I spent many, many years writing, honing my craft, and figuring out how to write a novel, before I finished a manuscript that I felt was ready to submit. So that part of the process was long and winding.
And then, it took me a year of submitting to agents before I signed with one. After I signed with dream agent Sara Crowe at Pippin Properties, we spent several months on revisions before submitting to editors. And then, I had offers within a few weeks. So, while my road took decades of learning and working, once I actually decided I was ready for publication, it was less than two years before I had a publishing contract.
What are some of your favorite classic MG novels? Recent ones?
I have so many favorite classic MG novels. We had a lot of books in our house when I was growing up, and I taught myself to read at an early age. Some titles that stand out in my memory include books by Roald Dahl, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Twenty-One Balloons, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The Westing Game. My absolute favorite author was Diana Wynne Jones—she’s published by Greenwillow, so it’s very special to me that I now share a publisher with her.
As for recent MG novels, I love books by Rebecca Stead, Erin Entrada Kelly, Anne Ursu, Kate DiCamillo, Gillian McDunn, Jennifer Blecher, Kaela Noel, and so many others. I’ve also been grateful to get to know some of my fellow 2021 debut authors, and to read advance copies of their books. Middle grade readers are in for a treat this year meeting so many great new voices.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on another middle grade novel, still too early to give more details!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
Persistence and discipline have been key for me. They’re skills I’ve had to learn and develop. You might feel that you have a talent for writing, or someone in your life might tell you that. But there’s nothing external to you that will make you a writer. The persistence to keep going, keep getting better, keep writing, comes from within. It comes from having the desire, and the drive; finding the discipline to keep working. I’m not someone who follows a strict schedule for my work, but I’ve learned that in order to see a project through to the end, I need to set certain goalposts for myself. I need to trick myself into moving forward.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
In elementary school, my school bus driver was my school librarian. She lived down the block from me and drove a group of kids in the neighborhood to school in her VW van—we called it the “hippie” van. So I got to spend a lot of extra time in the library.
Where can people find you online?
Caroline Gertler has an MA in art history, and gives tours of Old Master paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is a former children’s book editor, and Many Points of Me is her first novel. Caroline Gertler lives with her family in New York City.
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