Episode 85: Craft Your Body of Work – Interview with Carolyn Mackler

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds! I’m so excited to share today’s episode with you.

It’s not often that I have an author on the show where I’ve read almost their entire body of work. Carolyn Mackler is one of those rare authors. As an MFA student, I wrote a term paper for my YALit class examining the mother-daughter relationships in her first four novels. Since then I’ve been an avid reader of her work and have eagerly awaited her subsequent novels.

Usually, when I interview authors on the show, we focus our discussion on that author’s latest work. This is often a pragmatic consideration because I don’t often have the opportunity to read every book that author has written. But before we dive into today’s interview I want to pose a challenge to my word nerd listeners.

The Challenge

We can’t all read every single book by every single author on the planet, but I want you to try doing this with one or two authors whose work you love. The insights and benefits you’ll get from this practice will amaze you. When you read an author’s body of work, you not only get to enjoy great stories from an author you love, but you get to see that author’s process and creative growth over time. As I interview Carolyn today, we’re not just going to talk about her latest book, but also how different themes and elements of craft have developed in her writing over the course of various books.

But first, a quick intro about today’s guest. Carolyn Mackler is the author of several highly-acclaimed YA novels, one new middle grade novel, and a collaborative novel with bestselling author Jay Asher. Her second book: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things received the Printz Honor and her latest book Infinite In Between has already garnered starred reviews. A fellow New Yorker, Carolyn lives in NYC with her husband and two young sons.

In this episode Carolyn and I discuss:

  • Taking the leap into YA, even though the “market” wasn’t great.
  • Writing your second book.
  • Trying something new. Characterization and craft from one novel to the next.
  • The importance of knowing your protagonists.
  • Diversity in characterization.

Plus, Carolyn’s #1 tip for writers.

More About Carolyn Mackler

Carolyn Mackler’s latest novel for teens, Infinite in Between, has already garnered several starred reviews. She is also the author of the popular YA novels, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (A Michael L. Printz Honor Book), Tangled, Guyaholic, Vegan Virgin Valentine, and Love and Other Four-Letter Words. Carolyn’s novel, The Future of Us, co-written with bestselling author Jay Asher, received starred reviews and appeared on bestseller lists.

Her first middle grade novel, Best Friend Next Door, came out in May 2015.  Carolyn’s books have been published in more than twenty countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Israel, and Indonesia. This info-graphic shows how her writing career has evolved over the years. Carolyn lives in New York City with her husband and two young sons.


If you want to purchase Carolyn Mackler’s books, I hope you’ll consider doing so via the affiliate links below (where DIY MFA gets a small commission at no cost to you). Thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

New to Carolyn’s books? Then, I recommend starting with The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. It’s hilarious and human and totally relatable. Infinite in Between is perhaps her most complex and sophisticated novel thus far, and if you’re interested in multiple POV in YA, this is a fabulous example of that technique at work. My personal favorite, though, is Vegan Virgin Valentine which is quieter and more subtle than some of her other single-POV novels, but powerful nonetheless.

To learn more about Carolyn and her writing, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit her website.

Link to Episode 85

(Right-click to download.)

If you liked this episode…

Head over to iTunes, leave a review, and subscribe so you’ll be first to know when new episodes are available. And if you know anyone who might enjoy this podcast, please share! Also, check out the awesome new podcast series from my friends over at Folio Literary Management and the Salt Cay Writer’s Retreat: diymfa.com/saltcay.

Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.


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