Friday, May 19, 2017

Caroline's Autobiography

18 May 2017

Dear Caroline

We are learning about you and your life story we are writing a biography and i was wondering if you could give me any information about your life as an Author. I know you studied Latin at Cambridge University but our main points are

- Life as a child
- Studying
- Author Life 
- Life now

Thank you, James (aged 9)

Dear James, Here it is! 

- Life as a child

Caroline with brother Dan & sister Jennifer c. 1960
Caroline Lawrence was born in London, England in 1954. Her American parents returned to the United States shortly afterwards and she grew up in Bakersfield, California with her younger brother Dan and her little sister Jennifer. (Her surname was Weiss which means her sister is NOT Jennifer Lawrence but Jennifer Weiss.) Caroline's father taught English, French and drama in a local high school and her mother was a stay-at-home mum and a talented artist.

During the long hot summers, Caroline and her brother and sister would go swimming in one of Bakersfield's several public pools or play in prickly golden fields under a desert sun. Caroline's parents made a conscious decision NOT to have a TV, but some nights as a treat they would all pile in the car – Caroline and her siblings in their pyjamas – and go to a Drive-In movie. (A Drive-In movie is where you stay in your car and watch a film on a big outdoor screen. Here is a LIFE report about Drive-Ins.) This is where Caroline first fell in love with movies. 

- Education 

Hoover Tower at Stanford University, California
When Caroline was twelve, her family moved to Stanford University in northern California so that her father could study Linguistics there. Stanford is now famous as being part of Silicon Valley. At the age of 18, Caroline fell in love with the world of Ancient Greece and Rome after reading a book that changed her life: The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault. Because of that book she decided to study Classics at Berkeley. (Classics is the study of Greek and Latin and the culture of Ancient Greece and Rome). She enjoyed decoding Greek and Latin so much that she managed to win a Marshall scholarship to study at Cambridge University. In 1977 she was flown to England and began studying Classical Art and Archaeology at Newnham College, Cambridge.

She has been in England ever since, with short trips home to California or to the places where her books are set.   

- Life in England

Caroline & Simon in 1982
After taking a first class degree from Cambridge, Caroline moved down to London to work as a trainee stockbroker. This was NOT a success but she met her first husband at that job. They got married, moved to a village in Essex and had a little boy named Simon. Sadly the marriage did not last. Caroline returned to London when her son was five years old and lived as a single mum for five years. When Simon was ten, Caroline married a graphic designer she met through her church, Holy Trinity Brompton. His name is Richard Lawrence and he is English. Their wedding was at the Chelsea Registry office with a blessing afterwards at St Paul's church in Onslow Square. They will celebrate their 25th anniversary in October 2017. 

- Becoming a Author 

For a few years, Caroline helped out at her son’s school, first as a volunteer, later as a paid teacher. Her subjects were Latin, French and art. After she had been teaching for about ten years, she decided it might be fun to be a writer. She started getting up an hour early every day to write before she went to school to teach. 

Caroline's original goal was to write screenplays for movies, but in August of 1999 on one of her visits home to California her sister Jennifer said, ‘Why don’t you write a book for kids set in Pompeii?’ At that moment Caroline had what she calls a lightbulb moment. (In old-fashioned cartoons whenever a character had a good idea a lightbulb appeared over their head: BING!

Nubia, Flavia, Lupus & Jonathan in a chariot
This was Caroline's idea: Nancy Drew in Ancient Rome. That month she wrote the first draft of the Thieves of Ostia, which was accepted by Orion almost immediately but not published until September 2001. The stories follow the adventures of clever Roman girl named Flavia Gemina and the three friends who help her solve mysteries: her next-door-neighbour Jonathan ben Mordecai, a beautiful slave-girl named Nubia and Lupus, a half-wild beggar boy with no tongue. Over the following ten years Caroline wrote sixteen more Roman Mysteries, some of which were televised by the BBC in 2007 and 2008. You can see pictures from the filming of the Roman Mysteries TV series HERE.  

Since finishing the Roman Mysteries Caroline has written 17 more books, including four books set in America’s Wild West, The P.K. Pinkerton Mysteries. She is now working on The Roman Quests, a series set in Roman Britain about three children who must flee Rome. In Britannia they meet grownup Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus. 

- Life now

Caroline and grandsons December 2016
Caroline loves being a writer of historical fiction for kids because it combines her love of art history, ancient languages and travel. She lives by the river in London with her husband Richard, who helps her with ideas and illustrations, and who feeds her. Caroline’s son Simon is now grown up, living in Los Angeles California and working in the film industry. He has an Australian wife named Brooke and four sons. Caroline’s favourite thing is still going to the movies, and she still hopes to write the screenplay for a successful film one day. 

P.S. You can also see a long blog about How I Write and lots more info about me and the Roman Mysteries on my FAQS page.