I have wonderful news! A verse novel I wrote this time last year has sold to my dear editor, Stacey. This will be our fourth novel together. Here’s the official announcement from Publisher’s Weekly:
Stacey Barney at Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin has acquired Caroline Starr Rose’s middle grade novel in verse, FIRE FINDER. When she turns 13, Opal, who lives in a fire tower in New Mexico’s wilderness, will train as the fourth generation female fire lookout in her family, but she’s keeping a secret—she’s afraid of fire. Alone in the tower, Opal spies smoke after a lightning strike and realizes she must face it on her own. Publication is scheduled for Spring 2024. Tracey Adams at Adams Literary negotiated the deal for World rights.
Drafting this book was an absolute joy. Writing in verse felt like coming home. Speaking of home, I’ve wanted (and tried) to sell a New Mexico book for ages. And look! I’ve finally done it!
When I started this manuscript, I knew I wanted to continue to explore nature and solitude, as I had done in May B. All I knew was it would be a “girl in a tower” book. I wasn’t sure if it would have fairy tale elements (update: it doesn’t), but I wanted that separate from the world feel. I wanted this child to grow up away from society. I just wasn’t sure what would have placed her there and what her purpose might be.
At first, I thought she’d live in a lighthouse. That felt mysterious and enchanting…but I’d seen a handful of books with lighthouse settings. It didn’t seem especially unique. Then I read about fire towers in Sunset Magazine (see the picture above that I tore out and glued in a journal), and I knew this was it. This would be my character’s world.
I cannot tell you how fascinating this research was! I was so fired up (pun totally intended) at my writing retreat in 2020, that one member took to calling me Fire Girl. I devoured Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout (see my review here) that was set in the world’s first designated wilderness area — the Gila — right here in my beloved New Mexico. THIS WAS IT! MY SETTING!
There were once thousands of towers across the US, set up after the Big Blowup in 1910 as an early warning system to alert communities to signs of nearby fire. Now only a few hundred are still in operation, mainly in remote areas in the western United States.
It’s no secret in the last thirty years western wildfires have increased in size and frequency. Climate change has played a part. Building in the urban wilderness interface has heightened fires’ effect on humans. But fire is also a natural part of forest renewal. The topic of fire is fraught and complicated, but as difficult as it is, fire is here to stay. How can we learn to live with it?
I love this book, maybe more than anything I’ve ever written. Stay tuned for more!
Jessica Lawson says
This is SUCH cool news!!! Opal sounds amazing. I visited a fire tower in Colorado years ago, and it was a very cool experience. I sold a PB last year about our nation’s first female smokejumper, and I worked with a Wildland Fire Fund when I lived in CO, so anything wildfire-related is close to my heart. Can’t wait to read this book!
I remember your picture book sale!! Cannot wait! Want to do an interview on my blog?
Sarah Mast says
Congrats! I can’t wait to read it with my daughter. I love that you meshed in your NM setting with a unique storyline. I can’t say that I’ve read any books about fire lookouts!
Thank you! I’m thrilled. 🙂
Lynne Robbins says
Fantastic! Congratulations, Caroline!!
Thank you, Lynne!
Cynthia Grady says
I am so happy for you, Caroline! And the story (and setting!) sound fabulous.
Thank you. I love that I’ll be able to share our beautiful state with others.
Kimberley Little says
This is so exciting, Caroline, huge congratulations, the book sounds amazing! A subject that has always fascinated me, too. Whoohoo!!
Thank you, Kim! I hope you’re well.
Congrats! I can’t wait to read your new book! I read (on your recommendation) Fire Season last year and loved it, and then made my husband read it, and he loved it too! So thanks for that post way back when that prompted me to add it to my tbr. I’ve added Fire Finder to my tbr now, too. 🙂
This is so fun to hear. Thanks for telling me. Wasn’t it fascinating? I actually sent fan email to Phillip Connor, I was so struck by his book.