Caroline Carlson

The Short Version

Photo courtesy of Amy Rose Capetta

Photo courtesy of
A.R. Capetta

Caroline Carlson is the author of funny and fantastical books for young readers, including The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates trilogy, The World’s Greatest Detective, and The Door at the End of the World. Her novels have won accolades from the New York Times, the American Booksellers Association, Bank Street College of Education, the American Library Association, and Junior Library Guild, among others.

Caroline holds a BA from Swarthmore College and an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her family.


The Longer Version

I have always been a bigfan of Winnie-the-Pooh

I have always been a big
fan of Winnie-the-Pooh

I haven’t always been a writer, but I have always been a reader. When I was growing up just outside Boston, Massachusetts, you could usually find me buried in a good book. My favorites were books full of mystery, magic, humor, and adventure by writers like Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, and Lois Lowry. (You can see some of my favorite books in the aliens’ pile at the bottom of this page.)

When I wasn’t reading, I was going to school, going to dance lessons (which I loved), or going to piano lessons (which terrified me). I liked most of my classes in school, but I hated having to run the 50-yard dash in gym class. During the summers, my family drove north to New Hampshire, where our neighbors organized week-long treasure hunts for me, my brother, and our friends to solve. We spent days searching the woods for clues and digging up buried treasure on the beach.

As I got older, I kept on reading all the books I could get my hands on, and I started writing my own stories, too. When I was 9 years old, I won first place in a poetry contest hosted by Cricket magazine. My poem about a rat named Sam was published in the magazine, and I can still recite most of it from memory.

After that, it was a long time before anything else I wrote got published. But I kept writing: I wrote a humor column for my high school newspaper and joined creative writing workshops. In college, I was an English major, which meant that I spent most of my time reading and writing about books, but I also took psychology courses to learn about how people think, how our brains work, and how we interact with each other. And I took classes in many other subjects that I wanted to learn more about—subjects like astronomy, computer science, medieval history, politics, and art.

This photo was taken a few minutes

This photo was taken a few minutes
after I sold my first book.

After college, I moved to Baltimore, Maryland. I worked for a few years as a textbook editor, writing and editing English and psychology textbooks for high school and college students. I also went back to school to get a master’s degree in writing for children. In graduate school, I learned about storytelling from lots of wonderful writers like Sharon Darrow, Julie Larios, Franny Billingsley, and Martine Leavitt.

During my final semester of school, I wrote the first draft of my first published novel, MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT. My editor at HarperCollins bought the book on Halloween in 2011; when my agent called to tell me the good news, I was dressed as a penguin.

Now my husband and I live in western Pennsylvania, where I spend most of my time writing and reading. I also love to travel to places I’ve never been before, take walks in the woods, and bake mountains of cookies. Every morning, I read the news online and drink tea from a giant blue mug. I love bad puns. I’m trying to teach myself to play the guitar. I still hate the 50-yard dash. And I’m still happiest of all when I’m lost in a good book.