Interview with Author Kathleen Ernst

Kathleen Ernst, a Madison native, is a social historian, educator, environmentalist, and the award winning novelist of 24 books. Her historical fiction for children and young adults include American girl mysteries. Her long anticipated American girl six-book Caroline Abbott series will debut September 4th. The third book in her adult Chloe Ellefson mystery series, THE LIGHT KEEPER’S LEGACY, will become available October 8th.

What an exciting fall you’re about to have. Two new projects! The third book in your adult Chloe Ellefson mystery series, THE LIGHT KEEPER’S LEGACY, as well as the long anticipated Caroline books for younger readers. Will you be on tour? Any school visits or book signings?
I've got three launch events for THE LIGHT KEEPER'S LEGACY scheduled:  October 16th on Washington Island, October 21 at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, and October 23 at Booked For Murder in Madison.  I'll also be touring extensively to introduce Caroline Abbott, with stops in West Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, and Washington state.  All the details can be found on the calendar page of my website:

I’ve been counting down the days until September 4th when CAROLINE, the new American Girl six-book series, comes out. Is it true it includes a mini-doll and game? Can you tell us a bit about Caroline?

Caroline Abbott, an independent and adventurous nine-year-old girl whose story is set near Lake Ontario during the War of 1812, learns to face her most challenging moments using her heart as her compass.  Going above and beyond to help those around her, Caroline gives of herself without expecting anything in return--becoming the kind of real everyday hero that any girl can be.  I hope that Caroline will help modern readers realize that they too can navigate challenges by taking positive action.

Caroline's stories are told in six books.  Although each stands alone, readers will enjoy following the action best if they start at the beginning of the series.  Books can be purchased individually, but they are also available in a six-book set that includes a game.  The Caroline doll, mini-doll, and some amazing accessories are available from American Girl.

You’re such a talented writer, especially because of your ability to evoke settings. While touring Cade’s Cove in the Smokey Mountains this past August, I thought of you and your writing. Do you have any plans to set any stories in the Appalachian Mountains?

The Southern Appalachians will always be very dear to my heart.  One of my favorite novels, yet unpublished, is set within the Smokey Mountain National Park.  I'd also love to set a Chloe Ellefson Mystery in the Smokies.  This series focuses on historic places, and Chloe loves the mountains as much as I do.

Describe your perfect day.
The perfect work day includes a hot cafe mocha, hours spent at the keyboard with words flowing effortlessly, and the occasional flash of inspiration for some unexpected plot connection or twist.

The perfect personal day includes time spent far away from anything crowded or commercial, perhaps exploring an historic site, perhaps exploring the natural environment.

I enjoyed exploring your blog, and especially loved looking at pictures of yourself as a child. On one of your blog posts you talk about how you’re able to make readers care about your characters. “I think the secret lies in creating a character with authentic emotions. In the six-book series, Caroline sometimes feels happy and sometimes feels 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.” It must be thrilling to be able to bring your characters to life and to see how much your readers come to love them and care about them.
You're right--there is nothing better than hearing from a reader who identifies with a character!  I've gotten some wonderful notes from readers who appreciate some aspect of Chloe Ellefson's life.  And I've already heard from some girls who are excited about Caroline Abbott.  What a joy!

You have an impressive website, a colorful and interactive blog,, several YouTube videos, and an active Facebook page. How fun is it to interact with your readers?
I love it.  Everything I do is done for readers, and connecting with them is awesome.  I can't always respond as quickly as I'd like, but I treasure every connection made.

Thank you, Kathleen. And thank you for sharing your stories with the world.

One Reply to “Interview with Author Kathleen Ernst”

Great info! I love Kathleen’s books! It’s good to know she has another Chloe coming out, as well as a whole new series for the American Girl Dolls. Carolyn does sound like a great role model.

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