Friday, April 5, 2024

Q&A with Caroline Hickey


Photo by Peter Dressel


Caroline Hickey is the author of the new middle grade novel Ginny Off the Map. Her many other books include Cassie Was Here. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.


Q: What inspired you to write Ginny Off the Map, and how did you create your character Ginny?


A: I got the initial idea from one of my daughters. She was about 8 years old at the time and very interested in geography. She asked if I could find her a geography camp for the summer and I looked everywhere but couldn’t find one. She was very disappointed and asked me to please write a book about a girl who runs her own geography camp.


Ginny’s voice came to me very early on. I knew she was an unusually bright girl, with an equally unusual passion, and that it might be hard for other kids to relate to her. The plot changed quite a bit as I revised the book, but Ginny’s voice stayed the same. 


Q: The Booklist review of the novel called it an “engaging and empathetic examination of an array of human relationships—including the one we have with ourselves.” What do you think of that description?


A: I love Booklist’s review – it’s spot on! I am fascinated by interpersonal dynamics and studying people is one of my hobbies. My favorite part of writing is putting my characters in situations where they have to interact with people they would prefer to avoid.


It was very hard to write some of the scenes where Ginny is disgusted with herself, but they felt true to life. Learning to accept and love our own quirks is an important part of growing up. 


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I did not know how the book would end when I began. I didn’t even know halfway through!


Without giving away too much, I’ll just say that I wrote several different endings and choose the one that felt both realistic and hopeful. I generally do not outline when I write, but I usually have a list of plot points in mind. I try to stay flexible and follow my characters.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I hope readers find the book entertaining, and that it inspires them to follow their own passions. A passion makes life so much more interesting!


I also hope they gain an increased awareness of the struggles of military families. If they should happen to memorize a few of Ginny’s facts and be able to use them on a test, so much the better.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently revising my next middle grade novel, which has several main characters who work together to create massive change at their school. That’s all I can say for now!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Did you know that if the world were as densely populated as New York City, the entire population could fit inside Texas?


Also, April is the Month of the Military Child, where the Department of Defense as well as national and local government organizations celebrate the more than 1.6 million children who face unique challenges as a result of their parents' service.


I will be doing a number of interviews and events in honor of military children this month. For more information, please visit:


--Interview with Deborah Kalb