Filling the Creative Well
This month we celebrate writer and poet Caroline Starr Rose. Caroline’s first verse novel, May B. is one of my favorites, and I’ve followed her work ever since. She now has work in several formats. Her new book, Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine, releases on February 7. It is Caroline’s first prose novel and is written for ages 10 and up.
Desperate to get away from their drunkard of a father, eleven-year-old Jasper and his older brother Melvin often talk of running away, of heading north to Alaska to chase riches beyond their wildest dreams. The Klondike Gold Rush is calling, and Melvin has finally decided the time to go is now—even if that means leaving Jasper behind. But Jasper has other plans and follows his brother aboard a steamer as a stowaway.
Onboard the ship, Jasper hears a rumor about One-Eyed Riley, an old coot who’s long since gone, but is said to have left clues to the location of his stake, which still has plenty of gold left. The first person to unravel the clues and find the mine can stake the claim and become filthy rich. Jasper is quick to catch gold fever and knows he and Melvin can find the mine—all they have to do is survive the rough Alaskan terrain, along with the steep competition from the unscrupulous and dangerous people they encounter along the way.
In an endearing, funny, pitch-perfect middle grade voice, Caroline Starr Rose tells another stellar historical adventure young readers will long remember.
If you missed Caroline’s debut picture book, Over in the Wetlands: A Hurricane-on-the Bayou Story, in 2015, here is an overview: Journey to the Louisiana wetlands and watch as all the animals of the bayou experience one of nature’s most dramatic and awe-inspiring events: a hurricane. The animals prepare—swimming for safer seas, finding cover in dens, and nestling their young close to protect them. During the height of the storm, even the trees react, cracking and moaning in the wind. At last, the hurricane yawns and rests, and animals come out to explore their world anew.
I remember painting a picture of a seal in preschool and being really proud of it. It was the same day I registered the difference between left and right. For years I’d think back to that day if I struggled to remember which was which. Right was the side of the easel up against the wall. Left was the side where I had the paint.
CG: What does your workspace look like? How does it reflect and enhance your creativity? My office is full of things I love — books, pictures, quotes, the occasional rubber rat (I’m never sure what one of my children might leave on my desk). Click through to take a peek!
CG: Do you have a go-to activity that rejuvenates your creative spirit when you are feeling the well dry up? Getting outside is huge for me. Most of the time it simply means walking the dog or taking a run. I can’t get enough of the rugged New Mexico beauty — the cloudscapes, the mountains, the chamisa in the fall. It fills me up.
Getting outside of myself is even more important but is something I can’t orchestrate. It might sneak up on me while I’m reading or visiting a museum or hiking with my family on vacation. The world is this big, amazing place, and so often I live in a very small space, physically and mentally. It is so beneficial to see beyond the comfort and confines of my regular life.
Thank you, Caroline! And congratulations, again, on Jasper.