A prolific and adept author of young adult books, Caroline B. Cooney's early career goal was to be a nurse because she loved reading the "Cherry Ames Student Nurse" series. However, she abandoned this course of study within one year. She began and came to love writing while in college. She is an accomplished organist and choir director, and in Driver's Ed, she presents the celebration of Christmas within the church and its subsequent impact upon the characters with compelling authenticity.
The plotlines of Cooney's works involve romance, mystery, and adventure in varying degrees of intensity; however, she also addresses issues in contemporary, urban America relevant to young adults. In Driver's Ed, the issue is the vandalism of street signs. The novel received ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults, and a Booklist Editors' Choice in the year of its publication.
Caroline B. Cooney began her writing career as an unpublished historical novelist but switched to writing novels for young adults when her short stories for this age group found a market in magazines like Seventeen. Cooney's enthusiasm for her career and audience is quite apparent. "I love writing and do not know why it is considered such a difficult, agonizing profession. I love all of it, thinking up the plots, getting to know the kids in the story, their parents, backyards, pizza toppings."
Mystery, adventure and romance in varying combinations preoccupy many of Cooney's young adult novels. For example in her recent work Burning Up (1999), fifteen-year-old Macy discovers disturbing secrets about her family and their community as she discovers the truth concerning a 38- year-old fire and an innocent victim. Her novels can be about supernatural creatures like vampires or time-slip fantasies. (See selected books: The Vampire's Promise and Both Sides of Time).
Topical issues also attract Cooney. In Operation Homefront (1992) she writes about a young wife and mother of three who is called up for National Guard duty during the Gulf War. Drivers Ed (1994) deals with teenagers who steal a STOP sign that results in the death of a young mother. Cooney is a writer of breadth and depth who is worthy of her audience.
Caroline B. Cooney was born on May 10, 1947, in Geneva, New York, and grew up in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. An excellent student, she was always involved in many activities at school, and by the time she was in the tenth grade, she played the piano for musical productions, directed a choir, and had a job as a church organist. A passionate reader, Cooney often read series books such as the "Hardy Boys" and "Cherry Ames," and it is characters from such books that ultimately had a significant influence on her life. In 1965, Cooney graduated from Greenwich High School and attended various colleges, where she studied music, art, and English. It was in college that she began writing and discovered pleasure in a talent that would develop into an award-winning writing career. Although her first attempts at writing novels of historical fiction for adults remain unpublished, Cooney's perseverance was finally rewarded when her book, Safe as the Grave, written for young adults, was published. Since then, she has written well over fifty books for young adult readers consisting of mystery and suspense novels as well as general contemporary fiction.
Today, reading and writing continue to make up a very important part of her life, and Cooney admits that most days of the week she can be found in a library or a bookstore. In her biography in the Random House website, she reveals that she loves writing and cannot understand "why it is considered such a difficult, agonizing profession. I love all of it, thinking up the plots, getting to know the kids in the story, their parents, backyards, pizza toppings." She further admits, on the Scholastic website, that she does not usually know where she gets her ideas and inspiration from, and that sometimes she just wakes up with a mind full of ideas. Other times, her ideas come from experiences either from her life or from those of loved ones and friends. She uses her three children, Louisa, Sayre, and Harold, in all her books. The Terrorist, for example, was based on the year Harold and Sayre convinced her to live in London, England. She points out, however that although everyone may have good ideas, the hard part of being an author is when one must turn those ideas into a book.
Cooney's passion for writing for young adults is clearly demonstrated in her numerous celebrated novels, including Driver's Ed, Among Friends, Whatever Happened to Janie, Twenty Pageants Later, The Terrorist, and the time travel novels, Both Sides of Time and Out of Time. A master of combining spellbinding suspense with thought-provoking insight into teenagers' lives, Cooney conveys the importance of thinking about good things and planning good lives even if the lives surrounding her characters are filled with misery, violence, and hate.
An accomplished writer, author, and mother, Cooney shares her knowledge and love of writing by visiting schools and libraries, as well as by attending conferences. Her favorite part of school visits is when she meets her readers. Currently, she lives in Westbrook, Connecticut.
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