Carolyn Marsden

© Sears

Carolyn Marsden grew up in Mexico City and Southern California. Although she wrote for adults for many years, she began to write for children after the birth of her daughters. She attended Vermont College and earned an MFA in Writing for Children. Her first book, The Gold-Threaded Dress (Candlewick), was a Booklist Top Ten Youth Novel of 2002. Her second novel, Silk Umbrellas, was a Texas Bluebonnet nominee and Booklist Top Ten Art Novel of 2003. Since then, Carolyn has published many more award-winning middle grade chapter books,almost all with multicultural themes. Her most recent books are Starfields (Candlewick), set in Chiapas, Mexico, and The White Zone (Carolrhoda), set in contemporary Baghdad.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

Mazli by Johanna Spyri (she wrote Heidi). This was a very mysterious book with an old castle inhabited by ghosts.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
—“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Rumer Godden, David Almond, Michael Morphugo

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I have enjoyed writing since I was thirteen years old. When my children were small, I began to make up bedtime stories. That led to my writing for children.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Read a lot! Don’t put off your writing for other things—make it a pleasurable habit.