Since earning a master’s in writing at Johns Hopkins University, Caragh O'Brien has been a high school teacher, a published author of romance novels, and now a novelist for teens. Her first young adult novel, Birthmarked, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, and on the ALA Amelia Bloomer list.
From O’Brien's 2012 Q & A with Jean Book Nerd:
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?Learn more about the book and author at Caragh O'Brien's website.
...I learned my most eye-opening, limit-breaking lesson after I failed my first physics exam in college. I had studied hard, and I couldn’t understand how I could have done so poorly, so I went to my professor to ask what I could do to study differently for the next test. He told me, “Know the material so well you could write the test.” At first, that simply seemed impossible, and then I glimpsed that an entirely different depth of comprehension existed. I think it helped that my professor looked a little like Yoda.
Is there such a thing as a formula for storytelling?
I’m intrigued by this idea. Don’t we wish, for ease of writing, that we could follow a recipe to produce a brilliant novel? As readers, however, we crave surprises and originality. The formula, if it exists, must be unique to each story. For my own books, I know that I go through a different discovery process with each one, and I’m guided loosely only by basic guidelines of fiction: make things worse, give characters terrible choices. I believe the most important thing is to...[read on]
Caragh O'Brien's Birthmarked, the movie.