Award-winning author Katie L. Carroll began writing after her sixteen-year-old sister, Kylene, unexpectedly passed away. Since then writing has taken her to many wonderful places—both real and imagined. She wrote her YA fantasy Elixir Bound, winner of the 2019 Connecticut Author Project for Best YA, and its sequel Elixir Saved so Kylene could live on in the pages of a book.
Katie’s novels include the YA psychological thriller Only Dark Edges and the middle-grade books Witch Test and Pirate Island. Her picture books are The Bedtime Knight, illustrated by Erika Baird, and Mommy’s Night Before Christmas and Daddy’s 12 Days of Christmas, both illustrated by Phoebe Cho. Her first nonfiction book is Selfies From Mars: The True Story of Mars Rover Opportunity. She teaches writing and publishing workshops for children and adults and works as a freelance writer. Visit her website at katielcarroll.com.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
It’s no secret to anyone who’s talked to me about my writing career that the unexpected death of my 16-year-old sister, Kylene, was the catalyst of my decision to become a writer. I’ve written about grief before, most notably in my middle grade novel Witch Test, but my YA Only Dark Edges is the closest I’ve come to writing about my own grieving process. Delta, the main character, is in deep mourning over the loss of her own sister. Only Dark Edges certainly isn’t autobiographical, though I did draw on my own life experiences for the book. Writing is a great exercise in learning more about myself and the world.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
I was a puzzle magazine editor for eight years after I graduated from college. I worked on all types of word puzzles, like crosswords, cryptograms, and word searches. But my favorite types of puzzles to edit were logic puzzles. Solving a hard logic puzzle is a lot like working through a tricky plot.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
Only Dark Edges was originally a working title while I was drafting that I didn’t intend to keep. It’s sort of the opposite of the phrase “silver linings,” which was coined by John Milton in a poem he wrote in 1634. Since Only Dark Edges is a Hamlet retelling, I really wanted a Shakespeare reference or the title. I workshopped a bunch of different options with one of my critique partners, but nothing beat out Only Dark Edges. I even ended up name-dropping the title in the book with the line, “They couldn’t find each other or see the slivers of light. There were no silver linings, only dark edges. The girl lost her hope again.”
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
If Only Dark Edges had a soundtrack, some of the songs on it would be:
“Ophelia” by The Lumineers
“Thief” by Our Lady Peace
“Little Earthquakes” by Tori Amos
“Shimmer” by Fuel
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
One of the hallmarks of young adult literature is to leave the reader with hope. Only Dark Edges is a dark story of Delta’s downward spiral of grief and depression. I want young readers who can relate to the story to come away with a sense of hope for Delta and for themselves. You can face the storm and come out the other end stronger than before.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I’m currently working on another YA novel, tentatively titled Meet Me at the Tree House. It’s a contemporary love story in some ways (not a romance), but it has a sci-fi element to it as well. I’m not at the point of having jacket copy for it yet, but here’s a working blurb for it. This is the first time I’m sharing this publicly!
What if you were in love with your best friend? But you’d been down that road before, and she didn’t love you back…at least not in “that way.”
What if one day she acted a little differently? She looked at you with a spark in her eyes that hadn’t been there before. And you wondered if maybe she could love you back.
What if you ignored that nagging sensation in the back of your mind that told you something wasn’t right with her? Or maybe something wasn’t right with you. Something that started like a wrinkle but deepened until it couldn’t be ignored.
What would you do if you loved your best friend who maybe wasn’t really your best friend? And she loved you back. Would you risk your perfect world for the truth?
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