Book Giveaway & Author Interview: The Year We Were Famous by Carol Etsby Dagg

Welcome to Author Carol Etsby Dagg.


Carole’s grandmother predicted Carole would grow up to be a writer. Sixty-seven years later—after careers as a CPA, children’s librarian, and assistant library director—Carole is finally fulfilling her grandmother’s prophecy with her first novel. Although she spends most of her time writing and reading, she’s had some real-life adventures, too. She has tip-toed through King Tut’s tomb, sand-boarded the dunes of Western Australia, and ridden a donkey up the cliffs of Santorini.

Carole was born in Missouri but after sixteen moves in her first sixteen years, she settled in Washington State. She is married and has two children, two grandchildren, and a bossy cat. She writes in her home in Everett and a converted woodshed on San Juan Island.

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If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? I’d be tempted to go back to 1896 so I could see Great-aunt Clara at the age she was when she took her walk with her mother. The last time I saw her was in 1950, when she was already dying in the hospital and it was hard to imagine what she was like when she was in her teens.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you want with you?
Desalinization kit, fishing gear, and a Bible.

One food you would never eat?
Sea slugs.

Any other books it he works?
After spending fifteen years with Clara I wasn’t ready to let her go, so I’m writing a sequel, speculating on what Clara did during the first of twenty-four years when she disappeared and had no contact with the rest of the family. I also have part of a draft of a book set in Alaska, and research notes I’ve been collecting for several other historical fiction books.

If you could jump into a book and live in that world, which would it be?
When I was nine or ten, I desperately wanted to be adopted into the Melendy family from Elizabeth Enright’s The Saturdays. I felt that having a talented artist, musician, and actress as siblings I’d certainly discover some equally impressive talent of my own.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Trapeze artist, coloratura soprano, ballerina, another Madame Curie, or librarian. By the time I was nine, I was already volunteering in the school library and I worked my way through college at the circulation desk of a busy public library.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
I can’t think of anyone dowdy enough to play the part of me convincingly. Oh, wait – she wasn’t dowdy, but who played the part of Marian the Librarian in The Music Man? Was that Shirley Jones? She might work.

I always felt bad that I never had one, unless you can call a couple instances of ‘Carole the Barrel’ in first grade . (I weighed about 35 pounds then, but it rhymed.)

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
Visiting my first grandchild, who was born the very early morning of the day I shook hands on the deal at ALA with Jennifer Wingertzahn, who was my editor at Clarion.

You have won one million dollars; what is the first thing you would buy with it?
A laptop computer that didn’t die five times a day.

What was your favorite children’s book?
Anne of Green Gables. I even gave my daughter the middle name of Elizabeth because Anne always wished her name had been Elizabeth so she could shorten it to Beth or Liz or Betty – something of her own choosing.

Hidden talent
I won a best of show at the county fair with a finely woven twill plaid blanket.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Doing the USA Today crossword and Sudoku puzzle before I start writing every morning.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day:
5:00 – tell the cat which is licking my face that it’s too early to get up. Throw him out of the bedroom and securely shut the door.
6:30 – rise and feed the cat, bathe, eat Fiber One with soy milk and fruit, wash dishes while my first cup of tea water comes to a boil. Do one or two quick chores.
8:00 – sit down at computer and go through e-mail and do the USA Today puzzles. I sometimes have 30 emails waiting from Class of 2k11, many of whom are on the east coast, so they’re three hours ahead of me.
9:00 – write.
11:30 – errand run; typically post office and oftentimes the library.
12:15 – make and eat lunch and take the cat for a walk on his leash.
1:15 – write
3:00 – take a half-hour walk
3:30 – write
5:00 – answer husband’s question of what’s for dinner. Tell the cat it’s too early for his dinner.
6:00 – dinner and News Hour with Jim Lehrer, kitchen clean-up
7:00 – catch up on e-mails and filing; make up tomorrow’s to-do list.
8:00 – 10:00 read; occasionally watch a Netflix while I iron or sew.

Pet Peeve
Cat hair in the computer keys.

What’s the craziest writing idea you ever had?
I’m not telling, because I still might use it and I don’t want anyone else to beat me to it.

The Year We Were Famous, by Carole Estby Dagg

On May 6, 1896, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, pack satchels with compass and maps, ponchos, first-aid supplies, journals, a pistol, and a curling iron. They head east along the railroad tracks, planning to walk twenty-five miles a day for the next seven months. Their goal: to reach New York City in time to win a $10,000 wager which would save their family’s farm from foreclosure—and to prove women could do it.

They wear out sixteen pairs of shoes apiece on their eastward trek as they confront flash floods and snowstorms, mountains and deserts, highwaymen and rattlesnakes. For a year, they are famous, and they meet governors and mayors, the wife of presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, and even visit the new president-elect himself, William McKinley.

Based on the true story of the author’s great aunt and great grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical fiction adventure that sets the drama of Around the World in 80 Days against an American backdrop of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of “a woman’s place” in society.

Winner, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s Sue Alexander Award for most promising new manuscript.

Giveaway Details:
1 copy of The Year We Were Famous
Open to US & Canada
Ends 5/2/11

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