I can’t remember when I first attended the Humboldt County Author’s Festival, held every other year in Eureka, California but it is one of my favorite book-related events. Not only do I get to meet kids in that out-of-the-way corner of the Golden State, I strike up friendships with lovely people like today’s guest, Carlene Cogliati. Following her creative passions has led to two novels and a picture book. . .so far! Read on for Carlene’s story.
Hi Kirby and friends – so thrilled to be invited here amongst lovers of reading and writing.
I was lucky to be born to parents who read extensively, both to themselves and to us; they showed by example that books are marvelous and special things.
Now, when we enjoy something intensely, it is natural to want to delve into it, and I soon created stories of my own – some were shared with my siblings, and some have stayed in my mind waiting for a home.
Along life’s journey, I have been drawn in by many forms of self-expression: art, music, theatre as well as writing. I drew before I could write, got bitten by the theatre bug at 4, and music was just always there (my mom’s family was abundant with musical talent) and I’ve found creative expression in all of the above. The creations I have enjoyed most all focus on children. I may have passed 60, but still feel my childhood as if it is only a step away. It is easy to close my eyes and take that step – and there I am, with the characters that come to me, sharing laughter, pain, joy and embarrassment with an intensity that adults sometimes forget. Thank goodness I have a husband and two daughters (now grown) who take my creativity seriously and have urged me for a long time to set everything else aside and focus on creating. I finally agreed, and now two published children’s novels have joined my picture book and two completed, fully orchestrated musicals. My days are too short – stories dance up and down in line, waiting for their turn. Two picture books are out seeking publishers at the moment and the rest are vying for top position to be next in the queue. I love them all and can’t wait to share.
Meanwhile – the three books that are out in the world –
As Our Baby Grows. It’s Rachael’s first birthday and she learns she is going to be a big sister. Share a year with her as she watches the changing seasons and the changes with the growing baby. She then gets to enjoy being a big sister as we come full circle, back to her birthday. This delicately illustrated picture book is ideal for expectant siblings as they make their own journey towards being a big sister or brother. As Our Baby Grows is divided into small monthly sections, mini chapters, geared for short attention spans. Each month has: something seasonal, a child’s level explanation of the fetus’s changes, and ends with a little something to help them identify with the baby.
To Durchhalten is written as a 6th grader’s journal during a particularly formative year. Amy Dixon loves words — their shape on a page and their sound, which she can almost taste on her tongue. She collects words for their value and usefulness in expressing herself, and to bolster her Spelling Bee prowess; but even her extensive vocabulary does not supply all the words she needs during this rollercoaster year. I feel very strongly about a story unfolding for the reader and letting them take the journey with the characters and don’t want to say anything more about her journey. I will share that I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1982 to earn my MFA, and fell in love with the area, and the man who became my husband. I now enjoy the remote beauty of the woods and hills close to a very small and wonderful country school, which is near and dear to me and is the inspiration for ‘To Durchhalten’s setting – and is where I met Kirby!
Stretch & Sarah is particularly close to my heart as it is based on my own family. Years ago, while visiting a favorite great aunt (who was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s) I found a picture of my aunt when she was a very little girl; she looked just like my own young daughter. I knew immediately there was an important story to tell, but was not ready to tackle it at that time. I researched history, collected and shaped family stories, and grew as a writer until the time was right. I hope I have done the story justice. Stretch & Sarah takes place during a family reunion on the old homestead. Despite Stretch’s aversion to the elderly, he becomes fascinated with stories of his family’s past, particularly Sarah’s amazing exploits in the 1800s.
Here’s some sneak-peeks of other projects. All the best to all of you and your endeavors!
Carlene Meredith Cogliati (Website)