"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Chat with Carol Curtis Stilz

When did you begin writing?

My first stories were written in first grade, but in third grade, I began sharing what my teacher, Mrs. Winter, called creative writing. She returned my first effort with an “A” and said, “You can be a writer when you grow up.” Her comment encouraged me, as did teachers throughout school. I began writing stories and plays when I taught creative dramatics to preschoolers. Eventually, I entered KIRSTY’S KITE in a Willamette Writers Contest and won the Kay Snow Award that year in 1987.

What have you written (books, short stories, articles, etc.)?

In addition to writing articles, stories and books for children, I have had articles, interviews, and a food column published with newspapers and magazines. The food reviews were in “Check It Out” for a local Gannett newspaper.

Which of the novels you’ve written are your favorite and why?

I wrote one novella in grad school. So far, I’m not a novelist.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Mysteries. I love a good mystery. I enjoy guessing the ending. It's so much fun for me to see how the author developed the conclusion.

What is your obligation to your readers?

To provide a good reading experience so the reader feels satisfied when he/she has finished.

What is your obligation to yourself as a writer?

To pace myself and not neglect other areas of my life.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?

As a young reader, my hero was Nancy Drew and later Jessica Fletcher. I love super sleuths. My real life hero was Mattie Stepanik who wrote HEART SONGS while he dealt with challenges for a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

What was your easiest book to write?

None are easy. I wrote KIRSTY’S KITE in one sitting but had to revise and revise.

Which was the hardest?

It’s usually the one I’m writing now. I have one in research, two in revision, and one with an agent.

What is the hardest part of the creative process for you?

Choosing the format for the story or information.

Do you write by an outline?

Sometimes. I sketch 3-12 main points depending on the length of the writing project. Three to five points works for articles and short pieces. I use 10-12 stepping-stones in historical fiction.

If not, what is your method?

I write in sections, like one quilt piece at a time and then stitch the sections together.

Do you have set hours in the day to write?

I like mornings best but write whenever I can.

Writing is tough. What makes you keep coming back?

It’s in my blood and gives me the “high” runners talk about. When I have a passage that I can read over and over and over again, without editing, I know I’m done for now. That feels great!

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Read, read, read! Read in the area in which you want to write, not just books on how to write. You will find your own process as you read and write, write, write.


  1. Carol, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I particularly found it interesting that you refer to your method as writing in sections, like quilt blocks, and then piecing them together.

  2. Carol, I really enjoyed reading about your writing process. What really stood out was your obligation to yourself as a writer. You had said it was to pace yourself and not neglect other areas of your life. I have that problem. Once I get into something I really push it. Maybe, you can give us all or nothing type writers pointers.


  3. Carol, I always love your advice. I can picture you writing in sections then like a fine seamstress, putting the pieces together to form an exquisite story. I love all of your stories but I have a very soft spot for Murph. Great kitty, great visuals (even without the illustrations) and great lessons for little ones.
    Sue Anne