Author reflects on career that began in Ludington

August 19, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Miranda Beebe. MCP Correspondent.

“Read, think, and be observant.” This is advice from Carol Farley, author of several children’s books, for anyone that is interested in becoming a writer. Carol has written 20 books and dozens of shorter tales that were all published. She chose to write children’s books and tales because “kids are the best audience of all, because they write letters to authors.” One of her favorite letters included “I have read your book. It makes me wonder every day.” Also, “I have read two of your books, only one of them is boring.” Carol recommends not being afraid of rejection, since not every book will be accepted right away.

Carol lived in Ludington for the first eight years of her life. She married an army officer, Dennis Farley, and they lived in five different states and three different countries. After she moved 24 times and after her husband died, she returned to live in Ludington.

Carol loved to read as a child, and got the idea for Mystery of the Fogman (which takes place in Ludington) while she had rheumatic fever and wasn’t allowed to leave bed. She started writing about girls sports for the Ludington Daily News and got five cents for every inch of writing that was published.

The first book she wrote was while attending college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Everyone in her English class wrote a children’s book instead of taking a final exam. Her teacher told her she should send it to a publisher, and she did. Her first book was published in 1958, and it was eight years before another one was accepted.

Carol has won three national prizes; The Garden is Doing Fine won Best Book For Children twice, Mystery of the Fogman won the Franklin Watts Mystery Medal, and Loosen Your Ears won Best Book by Midwest writer. But she says the best part of writing books for children is the letters she receives. “Kids say the best things, like ‘I’ve read two of your books and only one of them was boring.”

Carol lost her father when she was nine, and by 1975, she was ready to write a book for him. The Garden Is Doing Fine was published in 1977, and is her favorite book that she’s written. Although she originally believed the book was about him, it became about her mother too.

Other books written by Carol include Sergeant Finney’s Family (about a military family whose father was in Vietnam) and “The Bunch on McKellahan Street (about eight children growing up during World War II). Carol wrote several more mysteries featuring girl detectives.

While Carol and her family lived in Seoul, South Korea, she wrote two non-fiction books about Korea and became fascinated by its alphabet, which was created by the famous King Sejong in 1543. Several years later she retold a legend about that event in “The King’s Secret,” published in 2001.

Carol also wrote short stories for magazines and newspapers. In 2006, fourteen of the tales she wrote for The Los Angeles Times were put together and published by Scholastic under the title “Solve It!”

At one time in her career, Carol joined the authors working with the Michigan Council for the Arts and was able to visit dozens of schools while she was residing in Mount Pleasant. She found the program to be a wonderful way to inspire kids to love both reading and writing.

Carol, now age 76 and retired, has many happy memories of the hundreds of Michigan kids she visited over the years. She feels honored to know that her books have been in libraries in many countries, since several have been translated into other languages. She maintains that “Kids are the best audience of all, Hurrah for kids who wonder.”


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