Saturday, September 30, 2023

IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START: An Interview with author, 5th grader, Brooke White and her "agent" mom, Colleen

I honestly can't remember where I read about Brooke White, but when I did, I knew she was someone I wanted to showcase on my blog.

Brooke is a fifth grader at Charlotte Preparatory School in my hometown of Charlotte, NC. You can read her first interview here when she was featured on her school's blog. Besides having self-published two books, Brooke is an avid reader, an animal lover, a competitive swimmer, and a Girl Scout. Her books include  Cupcake the Lying Unicorn (2019) and Cookie Cat and The Tagalongs (2023).

Brooke at her recent book signing at
Park Road Books, Charlotte


Without further ado, let's get to know this young author.

CAROL: I assume you’ve always wanted to be a writer, is that correct?

BROOKE: Not fully, but I did start my passion at the age of 5. In kindergarten, an author came to share her book with the class, and she discussed the story behind writing the book. That was my first spark of interest!

CAROL: What led you to write your first book, Cupcake the Lying Unicorn?

BROOKE: In first grade, a classmate told the teacher something I did that was irresponsible.  Even though what the classmate said was true, I lied to the teacher and said that I didn’t do it. I was too afraid of the consequences if I had told the truth.

CAROL: That's interesting that you used something from your own life in your very first book. Authors are often told to write what they know, and you did!

CAROL: How was writing and publishing Cupcake different than writing Cookie Cat four years later?

BROOKESince Cookie Cat was my second book, it was easier in the aspect of planning, but actually putting the book together was harder. The planning was harder with Cupcake, but the execution was easier. 

CAROL: What did you learn in your first publishing adventure that helped you with your second book? 

BROOKE: I learned that it takes patience because the process of publishing took a long while. It helped me to have realistic expectations.

CAROL: What age is your typical reader?                             

BROOKE: My target readers are 5 to 10-year-olds.

CAROL: How many drafts did you go through? 

BROOKE: I did a lot of drafts with the illustrations, but I didn’t really change the script too much. We did a few edits, but the illustrations were the hardest part for me.

CAROL: Who is your editor? 

BROOKE: Mr. Caleb edited the entire book.

CAROL:  Have you considered a traditional publisher, or were you set on self-publishing?                                             

BROOKE: I let my mom focus on that part. I just focus on the writing, illustrations, and editing.

CAROL: Please tell us more about your decision to have a blank cover.    

BROOKE: I’ve always loved the phrase, don’t judge a book by its cover. I don’t enjoy it when people get judged based on how they look on the outside. I truly believe it matters more on their character traits. I think that is an important message to be understood by everyone.

CAROL: Are you planning on marketing the book outside of Charlotte, if so, how?   

BROOKE: I’ve already started by using Amazon. I believe Amazon is a good place to start because it gives me time to plan what to do later on.  My goal is to get my book into schools, international bookstores, and libraries.

CAROL: Have you been pleased with the sales of your book? 

BROOKE: It does feel like an accomplishment when I get a sale. I’ve sold 120 copies so far. Thank you to my readers! 

CAROL: What are your favorite books?  

BROOKE: Books by Sharon M. Draper are always some of my favorites. A book series I enjoy is the Emmie & Friends series by Terri Lebenson. 

CAROL: Are you planning your next book? 

BROOKE: I have started some drafts, but I am still thinking of other ideas. My main focus right now is school, studies, and time with my family and friends. Sometimes, those things inspire me to write.

CAROL: What is your advice to other young writers? 

BROOKE:  Have the courage to put yourself out there because you deserve for your voice to be heard.

CAROL: Have you read any books on writing that have been helpful to you? 

BROOKE: In writing class, we have read and discussed books about grammar.  While reading sometimes I focus on the way other authors portray their story.


CAROL: What role have you taken in Brooke’s writing career? 

COLLEEN: Generally, my goal is to support Brooke, in whatever area she needs. I haven’t defined what that looks like in her writing career just yet, but wherever there is a gap or there are dots to be connected, that’s where I fit in. I help her bridge them. That’s my goal as a mother. And yes! I created her website. 

CAROL: How have you supported Brooke’s efforts? 


At age 6, Brooke said she wanted to become a published author. I somewhat disregarded her at first, assuming that she meant, in the future, but then she started to put stories together with passion and consistency. It was easy to realize she had a natural knack for writing. When she was happy, she carved out time and wrote complete stories. Stories that were well articulated, had a compelling narrative, and were ready to be edited. In times of sadness, she jotted down story ideas. Writing became the thing she did when she was happy and her comfort token in times of sadness. It became very difficult to ignore. It was easier to encourage and support her than it was to disregard her. I decided to accept that writing was something Brooke was serious about. I started to really pay attention to her habits, listened, and trusted her words. And then helped her connect those dots.

CAROL: What advice would you give other parents of young writers? 

COLLEEN: Hold tight.  First, you will need to buy a lot of sketchbooks, and writing materials. If they like to illustrate, add some Posca markers to the mix. Secondly, remember that your primary responsibility is to listen and examine the needs of your writer. Don’t focus on parents who think you are pushing your kid too hard. That’s their way of saying it’s hard to believe. But the truth is, it’s hard to believe for me too. Some things, however, whether hard to believe or not, are undeniable. Brooke’s ability and passion for writing are just that--undeniable.

CAROL: Any cautions for parents to heed? 

COLLEEN: Remember it’s their passion, let them do the hard part; the writing is theirs. As long as they continue to do the hard part, then you know they’re serious. If they're committed to working, then we need to get serious about meeting them where they are, supporting them, and advocating for them. Bridge the gaps for them, including building a website if you need to!

CAROL: Did you encourage Brooke to consult other writers? 

COLLEEN: No, I did not. I didn’t know that I should--it didn't come to mind.  By the time I realized just how serious she was, she had finished her first book! When my daughter handed me a completed manuscript at 6 years old, I had no real idea what to do with it. I sat on it for months! She kept asking “Mom, is my book published yet?" Then I realized she was not letting this go. I started to witness her passion begin to fade. It was heartbreaking! Her writing slowed down drastically, and there was an underlying feeling of disappointment that she carried around with her.  To avoid the repeated questions and to uplift her spirit, I found an editor and began the publishing process. I decided to support and encourage instead of silencing and dismissing her.

CAROL: There are a lot of books out there for young writers, have you consulted any? 

COLLEEN: No. Now that Brooke has completed book two, I may just have to do that. I plan on making sure she’s plugged into some good resources.  We will start with the resources you have already provided. 


Brooke is giving away an autographed copy of Cookie Cat and the Tagalongs. In the comments, please leave a personal message to Brooke or a question you'd like to ask her. Since Brooke is a fifth-grader, any parent or teacher of a fifth-grader, or a fifth-grader herself or himself, gets two chances! The giveaway ends October 4th. U.S. addresses only. If you prefer, you can email your comment or question to me. If you are new to my blog, please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Congratulations to Barb Seregi who won Scary-O-Typed from last week's blog.

Don't forget to check out Greg Pattridge's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday blog!


Adrian So said...

Nice to hear about other young authors doing great things out there and pursuing what they love. Great interview!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Adrian. I didn't know you subscribed to my blog! I'm sure Brooke will be happy to read your comment.

Debbie said...

That’s a great Mom to recognize her need to help bridge the gaps for her daughter to help her accomplish her goals. Great job persevering, Brooke! I hope your book does really well and most importantly, that you keep writing the stories only you can tell!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Debbie. Please leave me your email address so I can enter your name.

Rosie Russell said...

What a joy it is to hear about this 5th grade writer, Brooke White and her stories and writing process. I admire her mother, Colleen in helping her with this journey. I especially liked she made her do "the hard part." It shows her, through hard work, we can get things done.
Congratulations to them both.
Thank you for sharing this interview, Carol.

Linda Trott Dickman said...

What a beautiful journey! I love the the journey began with truth about fear of consequences. There are many adults who still have that same fear. Thank you for sharing your truthful, beautiful journey.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you for your encouraging words, Linda! I'm sure Brooke will appreciate them.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Rosie, for cheering Brooke and Colleen. I feel the same way!

Brooke White said...

@Adrian So

Hello Adrian!

Thanks for supporting me through this blog, what's your favorite part of the interview? :)

-Brooke White

Brooke White said...


Hello Debbie!

Thanks on both of our behalves for your encouragement, and as for the writing I am currently working on a few drafts!

-Brooke White

Brooke White said...

Hello Rosie,

Thank you for looking at the behind-the-scenes of our journey. I too, am appreciative of my mom giving independence to do "the hard part". Thanks again,

-Brooke White

Brooke White said...

@Linda Trott Dickman

Dear Linda,

Thank you, for really grasping the journey of this process. I am grateful to my mom for taking the chance and letting me share my words with the world.

-Brooke White

Sue Heavenrich said...

what a wonderful interview. Thank you!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Sue! Each comment is such a delight to Brooke.

Kasey @ The Story Sanctuary said...

Thanks for sharing about this book-- it sounds really cute!

Greg Pattridge said...

The interview was the highlight of my day! Brooke has the greatest agent anyone could ever ask for. I wish much success for this new writer and am looking forward to reading her first book in the near future.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Kasey and Greg. Brooke will be delighted to read your comments!

Brooke White said...

Hello Ms. Heavenrich,

Thank you, for taking the time to read my interview. By the way, I think your last name is super cool! :)

-Brooke White

Brooke White said...

Hello Kasey,

Thanks for checking out my interview. I just glimpsed your website (The Story Sanctuary), I think the accessibility tool is super cool!

-Brooke White

Brooke White said...

Hello Mr. Pattridge,

Thank you for the encouraging message and the wonderful wishes. That comment made me feel appreciated. I am pleased to be the highlight of your day, I just have one question, which color? (author humor) Personally, my favorite color highlighter is sky blue or mint green.

-Brooke White

Valinora Troy said...

Congratulations to Brooke, absolutely amazing achievement at any age, but really impressive at her age, and I look forward to hearing of great things from her in the future. I started writing at about the age of 5 myself, but sadly my family didn't take me too seriously, and I didn't get any encouragement for many years (decades even!) so congratulations also to Colleen for being so supportive! Great interview, Carol, and I am so happy to read about such a talented young writer!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Valinora. Each comment means so much to Brooke. And yes, Colleen's support is amazing.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats on your new book, Brooke. That's so awesome that you're following your dreams at such a young age. It's going to make it easier to follow whatever dreams you have in the future that you're already started on that path. And it's awesome that your mom is so supportive in helping you achieve your goals.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you, Natalie. Every note of encouragement means a lot to Brooke. And yes, her mother is wonderful!

Brooke White said...

Hello Ms. Troy,

I am very sorry that you weren't encouraged through your writing journey when it first sparked your interest. Thank you for sharing this with me, as I know that may have been hard. I appreciate that you complimented my agent (mom), and I am also thankful for her support. It seems that you have started writing, do you mind sharing what genre you enjoy writing most. Thanks for taking the time to read my interview!

-Brooke White

Brooke White said...

Dear Ms. Aguirre,

Thank you, I agree that it will help me follow my dreams especially since the age I started is younger than most. I also agree that my agent (mom) is very hardworking when helping me reach my goals. I noticed in your profile picture that you are in front of yellow flowers, I infer you love to garden, is this true?

-Brooke White

Rosi said...

Congratulations to Brooke. That is an amazing accomplishment. How great that her mother is such a great support to Brooke's ambition. I will pass on the giveaway. Thanks for the post.

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