Caroline George is the multi-award-winning author of Dearest Josephine, The Summer We Forgot, and other YA fiction titles. Her first book released when she was 15 years old, a feat which led to more publications and internships with HarperCollins and Hillsong in Sydney, Australia.
She graduated from Belmont University with a degree in publishing and public relations, and now travels the country, speaking at conferences and writing full-time. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
In this post, Caroline talks about the need for balance in your writing life, her interesting family history, and more.
Name: Caroline George
Book title: Curses and Other Buried Things
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, HarperCollins
Release date: October 10, 2023
Genre/category: Young Adult, Southern Gothic
Previous titles: Dearest Josephine, The Summer We Forgot
Elevator pitch for the book: Seven generations of women in the Prather family have been lost to the Georgia swamp due to a generational curse, and Susana will be next unless she can figure out how to break it before the swamp becomes her grave too. As past and present collide, family secrets come to light, and new love emerges—can Susana do the impossible?
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What prompted you to write this book?
My dad is passionate about genealogy. Growing up, I visited graveyards with him, did rubbings of headstones, and listened to him talk about his experiences in the Deep South. He told me stories about my great-great-great-great grandmother Susana Godwin. She was Creek and ran a commissary for trappers in the Okefenokee Swamp of South Georgia. Locals referred to her as a witch. (Folktales about Susana are documented in Robert Latimer Hurst’s text This Magic Wilderness.)
A couple years ago, while visiting the swamp, I thought about generational trauma and family secrets. I contacted my editor and asked if she’d be interested in a book wholly inspired by my family’s history and folklore. Thus began the long process of digging up my own curses and other buried things.
I won’t give any spoilers. Just know . . . most of this book is either true or based off truth, which makes it incredibly personal and (I think) more compelling.
My hope is that readers see themselves in Curses and Other Buried Things and walk away from the book feeling understood and free.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
Even though the book was under contract prior to me writing it, the drafting and editing process took a year and a half. I asked my publisher for an extension more than once. Not only did the book require a lot of research, but it was emotionally taxing and forced me to process my own generational trauma. Overall, the book took exactly two years to go from an idea to a published work.
The concept stayed true to its original design, but my editor and I tweaked a few timelines and details to make the story easier to read.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
With this book, I learned to give myself grace and prioritize storytelling over efficiency. Professional writing involves plenty of deadlines. I’ve always felt the need to perform above and beyond to prove I can handle the rigorous author life.
Curses and Other Buried Things challenged me to acknowledge when a story needs more time to properly come together. I am a healthier writer because of the book.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
I did not expect Curses and Other Buried Things to change me as much as it did. Writing the book led me to ask my family questions, which sparked revelations. In many ways, I followed in Susana Prather’s footsteps to both tell her story and make peace with my own. I finished writing the book as a freer person with a deep appreciation for my heritage and empathy for those who came before me.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
Peace, healing, and broken curses! I hope this book encourages readers to reckon with their history and trauma and speak truth into lies they might believe.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
Don’t let it be your everything. I know the temptation is there, to pour all your time and energy into a project, to allow it to fill your mind. The industry might tell you it’s good to hustle, and if you don’t, you probably aren’t cut out for publishing. I disagree.
I think balance is key to a healthy relationship with books, writing, and life in general. Live your own story, then write out of overflow.