Caroline Bock - BEFORE MY EYES
Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?That was the question radio host and interview extraordinaire Diane Rehm asked today on her WAMU/NPR radio show. I was at my desk, working, writing, and my third grade poem from Mrs. Murano's class, at George M. Davis Elementary School in New Rochelle, NY, popped into my head. As far as I remember, it is my first poem, and I wrote it at age eight. Impulsively, I tweeted it to her-- and she read it on the air! It's right near the top of the show. (click here for link) And here it is too:
In the woods
where there are
rigid, rustling leaves,
I stand there
I've gone on to write and publish more,including my new young adult novel,BEFORE MY EYES,(St.Martin's Press, 2014)which has one of the main characters, Claire, age 17, writing poetry, which is featured in the novel.
Do you remember your first poem?
Warning! More thoughts on having a friend who’s an
-You will be asked to come to a reading. Wearing black is
always appropriate. Saying how whatever she reads is “moving” will work well
for most books.
-If you haven’t bought a copy of her novel, she will expect
you to buy one and she will sign it for you. Or, you can say you have read it
on your kindle or nook or Smartphone. You will not have to say that you only
read the free excerpt.
-You will find out that she’s often depressed and she will make
a bad joke about ending the way Sylvia Plath (head in gas oven) Hemingway did
(his own shotgun). You will not think this is funny and neither will she, even
though, she will say it is only a temporary condition, this darkness and
despair. It’s only until she starts writing again, and then, on occasion, when
she writes, and afterwards, a postpartum depression.
-You will ask if she has started her next novel, trying to
distract her, trying to encourage her—and she will say she is done writing
novels, nobody buys books, nobody reads—and you will be secretly relieved, you
will think that you will have your old friend back until the day you call and
she is excited once again, happy even. She has started a new work. She can’t
talk about it. It’s too early, too new, too fresh. She just has to write. You will
say you understand even you don’t because you are good friend and you know by
now that writers need good friends.
--Caroline Bock is the author of the new young adult novel: BEFORE MY EYES St. Martin's Press) available everywhere print and ebooks are sold.
If you have a friend who’s an author, be prepared:
She will expect you to read her new novel,even when you say
you the last novel you read was last summer—that one about billionaire sex or
vampires, though you don’t want to admit this to your friend, who has written a
serious literary novel.
She will say that you don’t have to read it and really mean—she
wants you to buy her novel.
She will confide that she prefers you buy it at an
independent bookstore,and you will not know what she means.You haven’t been to
a bookstore since you had to buy your mother a Mother’s Day present two years
ago. Whatever you read appears on the screen you also play games on and
sometimes answer a text or an email or as a last resort:a phone call.
And then when you do buy this novel,because you are a very
good friend, she will ask you,“Have you read it? And what you do think?” Since
the last time you had to report on a novel was in college or high school, you
will deflect her questions with, “how are the sales?” and she will shrug your
question off and persist on wanting to know what you think about her novel.
And then when you tell you love it,especially the opening
scene, she will ask you about the end.You will have to say you loved it too,
even if you skipped to the end and read only the last line, (hint: this English
major trick will save you much persistent questioning from the writer).
After being relieved for passing this test,your author
friend will ask if you will write an online review, even though you haven’t
written anything about a novel since high school or college, and barely write
anything longer than a text these days.
You’ll start thinking that having this friend is way too
much work, if you haven’t already.
But somehow, guiltily,since you were once an English or
liberal arts major too, you will compliment her on the complexity of the story
once again, thinking that this will get you out of actually writing anything.But she will nudge you: Amazon only requires twenty measly words for a review.Certainly, you can write twenty words about anything, including her novel, you will
So later, while staring at the screen, you will wonder how
anyone writes anything, how did your friend write an entire novel of words
strung together into sentences baked into paragraphs, resulting in a story with
living, breathing characters, which the parts you read were really pretty good,
especially that twist, so unexpected, a fictional dream, you remember that
phrase from somewhere, and maybe you’ll even finish her novel someday.
You will turn off your screen and sit there in the dark,
thinking that if you could only think of a story, and write it down, you could
be a writer too.
Caroline Bock is the author of the new young adult novel,
A Special BOOK TALK with
Join the Maryland
Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America: A Special Book Talk with Caroline Bock
, author of the acclaimed
new young adult novel, BEFORE MY EYES,
Press, 2014), about teens, mental illness and gun violence, and decisions and
consequences that change lives forever.
SUNDAY, APRIL 27
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Rockville Memorial Library
Rockville, MD 20850
Bock’s thought-provoking novel delves into the important issue of gun violence
in our country. The book facilitates a discussion among young people and
parents regarding the terror and prevalence of shootings, and also the ease in
which anyone can obtain a gun in this country.”-Jenifer Pauliukonis, Maryland chapter leader of Moms Demand Action
REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED AND SIGNED
COPIES OF BEFORE MY EYES WILL BE
AVAILABLE. A Donation will be made to Moms Demand Action with every book purchase
EVENT: FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
I own a cat.
However, I wrote a new novel, BEFORE MY EYES, with a
dog, a blind dog, named King, as a key character. He “sees” what others
can’t—particularly about his owner, 17-year-old Max Cooper, who is struggling
at the end of a long, hot summer.
Not only do I own a cat, but as an adult, I have only owned
a dog, a puppy, named Goldie, for three days, (and three very long nights),
until my husband and I realized that we weren’t ready for a puppy. We weren’t
ready for children either, but we were really not ready to take care of a
puppy. We were in our mid-20s and barely able to take care of ourselves.
We wouldn’t have children until sixteen years into our
marriage, and we would never have another dog. Over the years, we became
committed cat people, specializing in bruiser cats—big, bold, neutered male
cats—with old man names such as Marvin and Shelton.
Yet I wrote a second young adult novel in which the blind
dog metaphorically saves one character’s life, and is a key part in literally
saving others. I based his character on my brother’s dog, who is one of the
smartest and most empathetic of creatures, and who is also a black Labrador.
The reader reaction to King has been strong and
overwhelmingly positive. So I’ve
been thinking about the reasons. A dog belongs to family in a way that a cat does
not bother himself with being. In
a novel, a dog can be taken outside, can be the excuse for a walk (this happens
twice in my novel), can be critical to the play on a soccer field (also a key
scene), and can express warnings, fears, love—all of which King does in BEFORE
Cats, frankly, can’t be bothered with humans much of the
time; they aren’t anyone’s cipher but utterly unto themselves, at least the
cats, I’ve known. As Mark Twain noted, “If man could be crossed with the cat it
would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” On the other hand, Twain also looked
highly on dogs, “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out
and your dog would go in.” At the end of the day, I find favor in both cats and
dogs, sometimes too, over man.
This time around I wrote about a heroic dog, a blind dog,
named in King in BEFORE MY EYES—a novel about teens, mental illness and gun
violence—appropriate for teen ages 14 and above, and adults of all ages. Read
the book and find out why readers are rooting for this novel—and for King.
P.S. Are you a dog or cat person? What is your favorite dog or cat in literature?
This is devastating. I just read The New Yorker interview with Peter Lanza;it's the first
insight into the teen--and Newtown murderer--Adam Lanza from his surviving parent.
At the very end of the piece, his father reveals that he wished his son was never born,"...Peter declared
that he wished Adam had never been born, that there could be no remembering who he was outside of who he
became.'That didn’t come right away. That’s not a natural thing, when you’re
thinking about your kid. But, God, there’s no question. There can only be one
conclusion, when you finally get there. That’s fairly recent, too, but that’s
totally where I am.'”
But still, I have to ask the same question that drove me to write the character of Barkley and his parents in my young adult novel, BEFORE MY EYES
. Why didn't Peter Lanza
"see" what was going on with his son? The article does go into some gripping detail about what he--and his ex-wife,who was murdered by Adam, did try to do -- but it was not enough.None of it was enough for all those teachers and children who were murdered.
young adult novel
about gun violence, mental illness, and three fragile teens -- and their
parents-- because I couldn't get out of my head the question: Why? And I couldn't stop thinking what do the people--friends, co-workers, and parents around these troubled teens know -- and what do they choose not to know? My novel is just out a few weeks but already people are debating how I
depicted the characters-- did I go too far? not far enough?
reading this New Yorker
story, what I want to do today: hug my children, talk
with them, make sure they are okay.
“Look for BEFORE MY EYES, Caroline Bock’s new young adult novel to spark big, important discussions about teens and guns and mental illness. Written in three compelling voices, teens each struggling in their own way, Bock captures a moment before, after and during a terrible tragedy, and makes us viscerally feel and think about the question all of us involved in the fight for responsible gun laws ask ourselves, “Why?” Moms—and their teens—will find this engrossing novel rich with characters and themes to explore. Read it. And get involved in Moms Demand Action in your state and community now.”--Jenifer Pauliukonis, MD Chapter Leader,
I am a proud member of MOMS DEMAND ACTION too.
Thank you for reading!!
You are invited to a virtual month-long discussion
of BEFORE MY EYES with author Caroline Bock!
Date: March, 2014
Venue: YA Reads for Teachers (And Any
Location: The United States
Here is the Goodreads book summary of BEFORE MY EYES:
From the author of LIE, a powerful new
young adult novel about a fateful Long Island summer and the lives of three
young people who will never be the same...
"GRIPPING, DISTURBING AND
"Every one of Bock's fragile
characters hides an unflinching inner backbone of steel. Impassioned and
moving." - Elizabeth Wein, bestselling author of Code Name Verity and Rose
Message from Rory M., moderator of the goodreads group, YA For Teachers (and Other Adults):
I'm thrilled to
have Caroline Bock as our guest this month! Let us know if we should expect you
on the discussion thread -- it is a book that will haunt you!
...and I hope you can join too....Caroline
My eight-year-old daughter lost another tooth this week, and she insisted that she still believed in the tooth fairy
. So the tooth fairy was contacted and replied with this note:
I believe in you…
And I’m glad you believe in me.
Stay forever young…
With love always,
Your Tooth Fairy
This note (and a few dollars) from the tooth fairy made a little girl very happy. Do you still believe?
Sometimes it's nice to know that simple things are still good things to believe in--like the tooth fairy.
P.S. If I had a fairy, it would be a book fairy, someone who waves a wand and encourages all to go read my new young adult novel, BEFORE MY EYES, which is NOT at all whimsical, but as much adult as much as young adult. Look for BEFORE MY EYES everywhere books/ebooks are sold. Read it with your mature teen (age 14 and above) or just read it.
A poem dedicated to novelists everywhere
Another ordinary day—
The sun will rise across the fields.
The cold will parse the light,
on par for February.
My son will forget to zip or button
And I’ll remind him, adding:
‘Put on a hat,’
like my father always said to me
when it was cold or hot.
I’ll hear my father’s gruff
and it will make me happy in a way
that when he was alive it never did.
The teapot will shrill and
I’ll hurry it off the stove top,
hushing the boiling water.
I’ll press my mug,
with specks of tea
and milk and honey to my cheek, wondering what to make
for supper, and how I should
get to work today writing—
I don’t know what.
I’ll spot black birds
pecking at the ice-patched fields,
the school bus ruffling around
the bend, and my son loping
down the hill to the bus stop, and
it will be an ordinary day except
for the rush
that every novelist should feel
at least once in their lives:
today my book will be published.
-- Caroline Bock 2.11.14,