Author Interview: Carol Molski

Carol Molski has been an elementary school teacher for twenty years, a “swim mom” for ten years, and a dog lover forever. She says that Sal was “born” the day her youngest daughter asked if dogs could join the swim team. This is her first picture book for children. She lives in Wisconsin.

Books by Carol Molski
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Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
I've always loved to write, and would write little books when I was young. But when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered "a teacher". I think I answered this way because nobody really encourages someone to be a writer when they grow up. It wasn't until my children were born, and I started to write stories for them, that I realized I wanted to become more serious about my writing.
What inspired you to write Swimming Sal?
My daughters have been competitive swimmers since they were very young, and my youngest daughter, Courtney, has been a dog lover forever. One day when Courtney was seven years old, she asked me if a dog could join her on the swim team. I always say that that is the moment that Sal was born.
Did you have to do much research before writing this story?
Because my daughters have been on a swim team for so many years, I really did not have to do any research for this book. I already knew many swimming terms, such as backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, flip turn, etc. I also did not have to do a lot of research about Portuguese Water Dogs, because I have a good friend who breeds them.
What do you hope children learn from Sal?
Sal wanted to learn how to swim more than anything, and she was very determined and persistent in making that happen. I hope that children learn that if they are determined and persistent, they can make their dreams come true too.
What is your favorite illustration from Swimming Sal?
I love the illustration on the dedication page…Sal looks so happy as she is swimming, and the colors are just beautiful. And, of course, I think the picture of Sal in her swimsuit is absolutely hilarious. Mary Newell Depalma did an unbelievable job on all of the illustrations.
Are you a dog lover? Do you have any pets?
I have been a dog lover forever. I grew up on a farm, so we always had a few dogs running around, along with batches of puppies every year. Right now, we have a black lab named Lightning, who is usually incredibly naughty. But then he gives me his soulful look, and I just have to forgive him, even if he has just eaten another pair of my shoes!
What's a typical workday like?
Because I teach full time, my workday probably looks a little different than many writers. I always get to my school early, and use that time to work on my writing. I also will sneak in writing time throughout the day as my students are working independently. Sometimes, if an idea "hits" me, I'll grab my notebook, and just start writing right away, even if we're in the middle of something. My students are used to this, and just give me a few minutes to get it out of my system.
Do you have any advice for would-be authors?
The same advice that Sal offers: be persistent and determined. I wrote Swimming Sal seven years ago, but I never stopped believing that it would someday be a published book. Even with the many rejections I received, I knew that Sal would end up being top dog somewhere. You can't lose hope in yourself or your work.
Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?
Many people don't know what one of my goals is life is: to put my toes into every ocean in the world. So far, I've been to the Pacific and Atlantic, so I'm halfway there!