© Arthur P. Arnold
Caroline Arnold has been writing for children since 1980 and is the author of more than 100 books, including 20 books published by Lerner. Her most recent title is Taj Mahal, the story behind the famous monument. In addition to writing, she does author presentations at schools and teaches part-time in the Writer’s Program at UCLA Extension. Arnold lives in Los Angeles with her husband Art, a scientist, who has also been the photographer for some of her books.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
- I’ve always loved animals. I got my first kitten when I was three—I named her Snoozy after a character in one of my favorite books—and have always had pets. I don’t remember the name of the book, but it is one of my earliest book memories. An all time favorite book from my childhood is The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown, which I still have in its rabbit fur cover.
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and when I was in elementary school I had many favorite authors including Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Maud Hart Lovelace. The books I loved the most were usually set in other times or far off places. One of my favorites was Family Sabbatical by Carol Ryie Brink. Like the children in that story I dreamed that one day I might travel to Paris, learn to speak French, and climb the Eiffel Tower. Although I’ve only briefly been to France I do often travel to do research for my books, and that’s one of the things I like best about being a writer.
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I have always loved books and I wanted a job that was creative. One of the best parts of being an author is that I get to spend time in one of my favorite places, the library. I also enjoy the research process. With every book project I learn something new.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
The best writers, whether they write fiction or nonfiction, are those who have developed a keen sense of observation. They notice details about the way things look, feel, sound and smell. They learn how to use words to paint a picture of a scene or action. You can develop your powers of observation by pretending you are a spy and making notes about what you see around you. Your “spy reports” might make the beginning of a good story. The other secret of becoming a good writer is practice. Writing letters and keeping a journal are two ways of practicing writing. Writing is something like baseball—you are not likely to hit a home run the first time you step up to the plate. Your first stories will not be perfect either, but with practice they will get better and better and soon you will be hitting the ball out of the park.