Today we are chatting with Carlie Sorosiak, author of Always Clementine.
Read on for more about him, the book, and a giveaway!
Meet Carlie Sorosiak
Carlie Sorosiak is the author of the novels I, Cosmo and Leonard (My Life as a Cat), as well as the picture books Everywhere with You, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth, and Books Aren’t for Eating, illustrated by Manu Montoya. She lives in Georgia with her husband and their American dingo.
About the Book: Always, Clementine
Clementine is different from other mice: she can calculate the speed of light and she dreams in Latin. The scientists say she’s a genius and put her through test after test. Clementine is proud of being a good lab mouse, but she’s lonely. Her only snatches of friendship occur during her late-night visits with a chimpanzee named Rosie. When a compassionate lab technician frees Clementine, the mouse discovers an outside world full of wonders: Brussels sprouts, games of speed chess, television fame, and a chance for a real home. But for Clementine, it’s not enough to be free when she knows that Rosie and the other mice are not. This tender, lively adventure story, narrated in letters from a mouse to a chimpanzee, shows us that goodness is something we have to define for ourselves—and that courage and wisdom aren’t proportionate to size.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
When I was a little kid, my family and I adopted a rabbit who’d been rescued from a research laboratory. We named her Strawberry. She was an incredibly kind bunny who had an obvious—and quite understandable—fear of humans. We tried to make the rest of her life as comfortable and as free as possible. I spent a lot of time thinking about what Strawberry must’ve gone through and how she might tell her own story, if she had the chance. That was the initial seed for Always, Clementine.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came first. I wanted to tell Clementine’s story in letters, and when I wrote the first one—signing it “Always, Clementine”—I knew that had to be the title.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I’m super proud of the grocery store scene in Always, Clementine. Firstly, I wrote it at four in the morning, so that in itself was a feat! That particular scene also felt like the perfect balance of sweetness and urgency, which was my goal for the entire book.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Honestly, the answer is “everything.” Vivienne To is a genius. I love Clementine’s eager, earnest, curious, hopeful expression. Vivienne managed to capture so many emotions at once, and Clementine is just incredibly adorable. Look at her little face! Sunflowers are also a huge symbol in the book, and it’s wonderful how they’re incorporated.
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich. Everything Erdrich writes is flawless.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
My first non-fiction book for kids, Roar like a Lion, publishes in the US in November. It’s a self-help book with a wild twist: all the advice comes straight from the animal kingdom! You’ll learn how to make friends like the wolf, show courage like the tree frog, and be confident like the platypus. I also have a middle-grade fantasy out in 2023, which may or may not be from the perspective of a mildly grumpy fox!
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Clementine, most definitely! Since the novel is in first person—and that “person” is a mouse—the voice was initially a real challenge. I wanted to create the impression that Clementine’s brain was moving very, very fast, like a mouse’s heartbeat; at the same time, I didn’t want the narration to feel too skittish or tangential. I think I got the balance right in the end.
YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?
At the end of Always, Clementine, I’ve included an author’s note about animal testing. I think the final paragraph sums up my feelings best: “There is hope for the future . . . We do not have to continue the old methods forever. Millions of animals—just like Clementine—are waiting for a new day.”
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I am a huge advocate for the Atlanta Humane Society. I was lucky enough to rescue my dog, Dany, from AHS over four years ago. They do great work for animals in Georgia, where I live. Currently, AHS is even taking care of 27 beagles who were relinquished from a facility that breeds animals for animal testing. Some or all of those beagles will be available for adoption in the future. Just saying, if anyone is interested in adding a dog their family!
Book’s Title: Always, Clementine
Author: Carlie Sorosiak
Release Date: 9/20/22
Publisher: Walker Books US
Genre: Middle grade fiction
Age Range: 8 – 12
Five winners will receive a copy of Always, Clementine (Carlie Sorosiak). US/CAN Only!
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*