Updated: May 28
Not many people can say they've co-authored a series that has sold more than 400,000 copies worldwide. Even less can say that they've published 21 books before turning 21, starred in an off-Broadway show, and started an incredibly popular 'style empowerment' website. But our May spotlighted author can!
Carrie Berk is the co-author of the bestselling series The Cupcake Club, Fashion Academy, and Ask Emma. Carrie also co-wrote scripts for the show adaptions for The Cupcake Club and Fashion Academy. She starred in the very play of The Cupcake Club she wrote, earning her glowing praise from Stage Buddy. Berk is a talented dancer, model, and social media influencer, having worked with brands Madewell, Alice + Olivia, and more. She's partnered with Seventeen and Girl's Life, as well as contributed to No Bully.
I'm so excited to show you the interview with Carrie. She's such an inspiration! Read on for advice on fitting writing into your schedule, what it's like to find out you're going to be published, and weird things she's done to improve her writing (spaghetti and meatball cupcakes? you're on).
Zoe: You're incredibly accomplished at such a young age! How do you find time for everything you do? Is your schedule crazy?
Carrie: It’s not easy! However, over the years, I have become an expert at time management and learned to prioritize. So on a day when I have a ton of classes and homework—yet I have to publish a new blog post—I squeeze in the time to write in the back of a taxi or in between classes! I usually bring my Ask Emma manuscripts to dance class and take a bright red pen to make my edits with during a break.
Zoe: What was your initial reaction to finding out one of your books would be published?
Carrie: My first book was published when I was just eight years old, and I remember how excited I was! I went to Barnes & Noble with my mom and we found it on the shelves. It was like my life was flipped upside down. Suddenly, I was doing book signings across the country and speaking to entire auditoriums filled with kids. My peers were looking up to me, and that was absolutely humbling.
Zoe: When you're writing a book, are you the type of author who meticulously plans out the plot or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal?
Carrie: I definitely like to plan out the plot prior to writing. At the beginning of the book process, my mom and I sit down and bounce ideas off of each other and arc out the storyline. However, we do often make changes and add things we hadn’t planned on putting in as we go along. For example, one of The Cupcake Club books was in its final draft stage, and I decided to rework the whole story with the addition of a dog in honor of my new puppy!
Zoe: What does your writing space look like? Do you draft anywhere, anytime or do you have to be in a specific area?
Carrie: I write anywhere and everywhere, from taxis to my bed to my school library. My favorite space to write is at my desk at home, though. I find that forcing myself to sit down for an extended period of time with peace and quiet inside the house helps me get a lot done. My desk is also very inspiring! I have a “girl boss” pencil holder and a “great writer Snoopy” figurine that my mom gave me.
Zoe: What has being an author taught you?
Carrie: I have a responsibility to bring attention to important societal issues and empower others through my words. As a victim of cyberbullying, it was crucial for me to raise awareness through Ask Emma and teach others that they are not alone in their struggles. I am so lucky to have this platform that allows me to be a positive role model for tweens and teens who are going through something similar.
Zoe: I think it's so cool that you are a blogger too! Do you think running a website has made you a better author? Any tips to share with newer bloggers?
Carrie: For sure! A teacher once told me that the more you write, the better you become at it. To this date, I have written nearly 500 blog posts ranging from fashion features to beauty articles to exclusive celebrity interviews. I look back at my first few posts and I am shocked at how different my writing sounds! My number one tip for new bloggers is to write what you know. If you can speak intelligently about something you are passionate about, that is what will resonate most with readers.
Zoe: Did you bake a lot of cupcakes in preparation for writing your books? What's the weirdest thing you've ever done related to writing?
Carrie: When I was writing the Cupcake Club books as a middle-schooler, my mom and I used to try out the recipes in the books all the time. I vividly remember testing out dozens of batches of spaghetti and meatballs cupcakes until we got the ingredients down exactly right!
Zoe: How long does it take you to write a book?
Carrie: From brainstorming till you see it on shelves, it usually takes around six months. But there are lots of steps in the process: first we discuss cover sketches with the editor and illustration and see a bunch of possibilities and revisions. Then, we write a first draft which the editor reads and sends us back with notes (so more revising!). Next comes copy editing—and still more revisions. Finally, we read the galleys, which is the last draft right before the book gets produced. By the time it’s published, I’ve probably read the book six or seven times!
Zoe: Any plans for the future you can share with us? Your books have mostly been aimed at younger audiences so far. Do you have any plans for a YA or adult book? Autobiography, maybe?
Carrie: I am going to continue empowering others to embrace their individuality unapologetically through my blog, Carrie’s Chronicles, as well as bring you new and exciting tales in the Ask Emma series! No plans of an autobiography, but I have been thinking about writing a YA book on my own. Nothing set in stone yet, but stay tuned!
I hope you enjoyed this author interview! I'm excited to be able to add Carrie Berk to our list of spotlighted authors. Comment down below what author you'd like to see an interview with next and what writing topic you want advice on.
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