Caroline Abbott and Me

A young reader named Breanna once asked me a wonderful question:  “When you write one of the American Girl stories, do you try to remember what it was like when you were a kid?” I explained that I do indeed try to remember experiences I had when I was a young girl.

That’s me when I was in second grade.

I grew up in the 1950s. It might seem as if my childhood would have little or nothing in common with the historical characters I’ve written about. And it is certainly true that one of the things I love about being an author is researching times I know little or nothing about.

But once I’ve gained some understanding of past events, the next step in writing any historical novel is creating a main character. And creating Caroline Abbott, the new American Girl who will be introduced in September, was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

Caroline’s stories begin in 1812. The research I did about that era gave me lots of plot ideas. But exciting plots aren’t enough to make a satisfying story. Readers need to care about a character, too.

I obviously cared about the characters in this book!

How can an author make that happen?

I think the secret lies in creating a character with authentic emotions. In the six-book series, Caroline sometimes feels happy and sometimes feel sad. She has moments of anger and fear, and of joy and celebration. She has cherished dreams tucked away in her heart, and she does everything she can to make them come true.

Does any of that sound familiar?

I hope so. Many things have changed in the two hundred years since Caroline’s time, but human emotions have stayed the same. Caroline reminds me a little bit of me, when I was young.

Caroline likes to have fun as much as I did when I was her age.

And once you have a chance to get to know Caroline, I hope you’ll come to care about her as much as I do.

Next month, I’ll tell you more about creating Caroline. Stop back then!

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21 Responses to “Caroline Abbott and Me”

  1. Arletta Dawdy's Blog Says:

    A sweet post, Kathleen/Caroline!

  2. Lola Leonard Says:

    I love the sweetness of the American Dolls and Stories. Thank you for your part.
    Grandma Lola

  3. Kathleen Ernst Says:

    Thanks, Arletta! This one was fun.

  4. Amy Says:

    I’m getting really excited to learn more about Caroline! I’m not sure if you’re allowed to say this, but there’s something I’ve always wondered about American Girl authors. How much say do you get in making the characters? For a new character like Caroline, do you get to choose things like number and name(s) of siblings and parents careers, or does AG tell you that? For AG characters you wrote mysteries for, like Kit, for example, those things are already set in stone, but I’m wondering how it works with a new character like Caroline.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      A lot of people are curious about that, Amy. For Caroline, the only thing that the editors had already decided was the time period. After that, I did a lot of research and thinking, and then wrote a proposal with my suggestions for Caroline and her world (family situation, etc.) We all sat down together and talked about it, so everyone involved had a chance to share their thoughts. Most of my original ideas went into the books, although we did all agree that some details might work better if handled differently. It’s a team process, and kicking ideas with other team members was very helpful!

  5. happynessag Says:

    Kathleen I am very thrilled for Caroline and can not wait to meet her in September but can I ask this: Is Caroline from the Eastern Sea Board or the South I do not tink you could answer that but when ever you are allowed to can you please. I also have read your mysterys and they are the only ones that are really really good. Thank You Annabelle

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Annabelle, I’m so pleased that you stopped by and shared your thoughts! Unfortunately, I have to wait a while longer before I can reveal where Caroline lives. But I promise I’ll post that information here, as soon as I’m able. I’m glad you enjoyed my mysteries–and I think you’ll love getting to know Caroline, too!

  6. Jessica Says:

    Please, Please, keep us updated about Caroline! I cannot wait for her! I am thinking of buying the doll. Also I have always wanted to write for AG when I am older! So can you release the information on midnight of August 1st??? So excited!

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Jessica, I’m glad you’re excited about Caroline! I am too. We’ll be able to release information some time in early September. That’s all I know for sure right now.

      And how wonderful that you’re interested in writing historical fiction too! I hope you’re already working on stories. Thanks for visiting!

  7. happynessag Says:

    Hey Kathleen it’s me again, I think that Caroline is thfirst Historical Character I have been the most excited about. I am glad you will keep updating us and its hard to think that she is only about a month 1/2 till she comes out, I will definitely be staying up till mid night to see her! Also could you check out my blog I have two post about Caroline: one is of how I think her book cover could look like and the other is a doll version based on the book cover I drew. I would be honored if the Caroline book author saw them. Thank you

  8. Jess Says:

    I cannot wait for Caroline! Her stories seem really exciting!!!!!!!!! I bet the War of 1812 is in them! (Caroline’s Battle). I can’t wait to read them, Kathleen! I bet you did a fantastic job! =)

  9. N. Devito Says:

    We live in Sackets Harbor and can not wait to get this doll for our daughter

  10. Amelia Rose Says:

    Love all of the books and Caroline!! She is so helpful and brave!

  11. Cayce Says:

    I got Caroline for Christmas. She’s beautiful. We bought her in October to avoid missing out on getting her. Even though Caroline is gone will you still write books about her? I want to see what happens to Caroline next. Is it possible that American Girl will bring Caroline back someday?

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hello Cayce! I’m so glad you’re enjoying Caroline and her stories. I would love to write more stories about her, but I can only write about American Girl characters when the company invites me to, and at this time, I am not aware of any plans to bring Caroline back. But perhaps one day!

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