Today’s Friday Feature is the wonderful Annie Cardi, newest member extraordinaire of my fabulous writer’s group who I first met when we showed up to accept the 2011 Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award together (QUEEN OF THE AIR won for YA, GOLDEN BOY won for middle grade).
Who knew… two red-heads win the same award in Boson after having attended the University of Virginia, during the same years, having stayed in the same dorm… and never knowing each other. Glad to have finally met you, Annie. It was meant to be.
So, Annie, what are you up to these days?
A lot of people ask me if I write full-time. That’s not the case right now, but I have a pretty awesome day job—I work at WGBH, the PBS station in Boston, in Educational Outreach. My department creates educational materials and coordinates events for teachers, librarians, parents, and kids. Many materials are based on our PBS programming, so it’s a great way to combine my enthusiasm for children’s writing, education, and community outreach. Fortunately, my coworkers and managers are really supportive of my writing career.
Queen of the Air first started with the line “My mother thinks she’s Amelia Earhart.” That line flashed in my head one day—I think I was spending the summer in Chicago at the time—and I was intrigued by what that meant for this narrator’s home life.
When I started writing Queen of the Air, I wasn’t exactly sure where the story was going to go. I know a lot of writers have detailed outlines and character sketches, but that’s not my usual process. I have points that I want to hit, but I also like letting the characters and tone guide me in different directions. I love those moments when you realize, “Wait a minute, my character would totally do X instead!”
2011 was the year of the “big break.” I’d been revising Queen of the Air since 2009 and was starting to query agents when I heard about the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Award on Lois Lowry’s blog. (Hurray for author blogs!) I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, so getting the call saying I was one of the 2011 winners was astounding. That ended up being a life-changer, because the PEN committee passed along the manuscript to Candlewick Press, who accepted it for publication. Even now it’s kind of hard to wrap my brain around that phrase. The writing life is filled with rejection and it’s easy to feel like you’re writing in a void. But you really can’t know when success will come.
I know! Sometimes it still feels unreal to me that GOLDEN BOY will be a real book in May. I know it’s still early days yet, but can you share any other tidbits with us from QUEEN OF THE AIR?
- My main character, Alex Winchester, has major problems learning how to drive. I get anxious if I don’t know exactly where I’m going and have been known to yell at the GPS voice.
- In fifth grade we had to write a book report on a biography. My friends got into it, but I was miffed that we couldn’t read fiction. I ended up choosing a biography on Amelia Earhart.
- I like creating playlists for my novels. A couple of Queen of the Air favorites are “Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire and “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem.
Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Tara!
You’re so welcome! Thanks for the great interview!
If you’re interested in seeing more of Annie’s work check out her blog: http://anniecardi.com/ Do it! Can you say “no” to this face?