Check This Out: The Door at the End of the World

Hello! Help yourself to a breakfast pastry and have a seat. With me on the blog today is the awesome Caroline Carlson, who is here to talk about her middle grade science fiction novel, The Door at the End of the World, which debuted on April 9.


The Door at the End of the World was published by HarperCollins. Like the cover? The cover artist is Poly Bernatene.

Caroline is represented by Sarah Davies. She also is a member of steaMG. See this post about that organization. Be sure to stay till the end for information on a giveaway of this book. Yeah!!!!! Now let’s talk to Caroline!

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Caroline: (1) I love to bake because baking feels like the exact opposite of writing a book: you just follow the instructions in the recipe, and a few hours later, you have a finished product! Books don’t work that way at all.
(2) My least favorite noise is the sound that Styrofoam makes when you lift it out of a cardboard box.
(3) When the zombie apocalypse comes, I would prefer to be one of the first people eaten so I don’t have to deal with all the stress of trying to survive in a zombie-ridden dystopia.

(4) I have been told that I have natural ghost-repelling qualities.

El Space: Wow! An awesome ability to have! You’ve written books about pirates and detectives. Now you’ve written a portal story. C.S. Lewis once said that a faun carrying an umbrella was the image that started his writing of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. How did The Door at the End of the World come to be? Is this a stand-alone or the start of a series?

Caroline: The Door at the End of the World came to me in a way that most stories don’t: It started with the title. I’d been wondering what it would be like to write a book about the end of the world, and then I thought, What if the end of the world isn’t an event? What if it’s a place? What if it’s where our world meets the next world over? And what if there were a door between the two worlds that you could travel through? Would you need a passport? Would someone stand guard at the end of the world to make sure people weren’t sneaking through the door illegally? What if there were a whole series of worlds, all connected by doors, each with its own unique characteristics? The story really took off from there. It’s a stand-alone novel, but I barely scratched the surface of some of the eight worlds my characters visit, so maybe I’ll set another story in this universe someday.

El Space: Without giving any spoilers, what can you tell us about your world building and how you came to develop characters like Lucy and the worlds mentioned in your book?
Caroline: There are eight different worlds in the book: a magical world, a high-tech world, a world covered in oceans, another world that’s full of cows, and our own world, just to name a few. Each of the worlds is special in its own way, but the world called Southeast, where a lot of the action is set, is a little bit . . . ordinary. Lucy, the heroine, is a little bit ordinary too. It’s her job to file papers and stamp passports at the end of the world, but she doesn’t get to go on any grand adventures, and she knows she only got the job because her parents and her older brother are very famous and important. Over the course of the story, though, Lucy meets a couple other ordinary kids, and they discover together that even though they’re not famous or important, they’re capable of doing truly extraordinary things—like saving eight whole worlds from destruction.


El Space: That sounds awesome! How did the process of writing this book compare to the writing of The World’s Greatest Detective or any of your Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates books?
Caroline: I’m usually the sort of writer who plans a book before I start writing. I outlined each of the three novels in my Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series, and I had to make an extensive and complicated outline for The World’s Greatest Detective, which is a murder mystery. When you write a mystery, you need to know exactly how the crime is committed, how the criminal will cover their tracks, where all the clues and red herrings will appear, and how the detective will put together all the pieces to arrive at the solution. I can’t imagine writing a book like that without planning in advance!



When I wrote The Door at the End of the World, though, I didn’t outline at all. Most days I’d sit down to write without knowing what was going to happen next in the story. For a writer like me, who loves structure and planning, it was kind of a terrifying experience. But it was also invigorating, like reading a favorite book for the very first time. I didn’t know what would happen on the next page, but I kept writing because I was excited to find out. Fortunately, it all came together in the end, and a few rounds of thorough revision with my editor helped to make the story nice and tidy.

El Space: Kirkus likens your book to those by Diana Wynne Jones and Eva Ibbotson, How do those comparisons make you feel?
Caroline: That was one of the nicest compliments I’ve received on my writing. Both women are among my literary heroes, and Diana Wynne Jones’s work in particular was a huge inspiration for The Door at the End of the World. As a young reader, I sped through her Chrestomanci books—a series of stories set in linked parallel worlds that were painted so vividly—I felt as if I’d visited those magical worlds myself. The worlds-wide adventure that my own characters embark on is very much intended as a tribute to Diana, and I hope that readers who love her books as much as I do will enjoy this story, too.


El Space: What will you work on next?
Caroline: I’m not sure what my next published book will be, but right now I’m working on another middle grade fantasy novel that’s full of magicians, spies in hot-air balloons, and an opinionated talking goat.

Thanks, Caroline, for being my guest.

Looking for Caroline? Check out her website, Facebook author page, Twitter, Instagram, and steaMG.

The Door at the End of the World can be purchased at your local independent bookstore, as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, and Powell’s. But two of you—that’s right, two—will be given a copy of this book, simply by commenting. Winner to be announced on the day after Easter—April 22!

Henry is hoping that this door will take him to one of the worlds described in Caroline’s book. I fear that he is doomed to disappointment.

P.S. My heart goes out to the citizens of Paris and those all over the world saddened by the recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

Author photo and book cover courtesy of Caroline Carlson. Author photo by Amy Rose Capetta. Other book covers from Goodreads. Zombie from somewhere on Pinterest. Henry photo by L. Marie.

38 thoughts on “Check This Out: The Door at the End of the World

    • Jill, I hear you! (Though baking and writing are both hard for me! I much prefer having other people hand me their baked goods.)

      Glad to have Caroline on the blog! Your turn soon!

  1. Great interview! I’m so excited for a new Caroline book and loved learning a bit more about it here. So interesting that the writing process was so different. Gosh, I hope someday I’ll write a book and genuinely not know where it’s going and show up to write eager to find out. That sounds really fun…as does this book!

  2. Caroline, when I saw your book cover I thought immediately of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Then, when I scrolled down I saw the connection. Thank you for answering my writerly question about why I’m drawn to the kitchen when I’m “hard at it” in on a project: Assemble the ingredients, heat up the stove or oven, and in a short time, Voila, you have a finished product. Writing, of course, doesn’t work that way!

    Thanks, L. Marie for featuring this prolific writer today. The book covers are compelling as what’s inside. Caroline definitely knows the mind of this age group!

  3. Ordinary does extraordinary. What a great premise for a book, or for life. Thanks for introducing me [us] to this author. Her book, with its intriguing cover, sounds delightful.

  4. Congrats to you Caroline. This sounds like a good read no matter the generation of readers!

    L.Marie- how funny you invited us to grab a pastry…I was already munching on a homebaked choco-chip/raisin/walnut cookie whilst (I like it when I can use that funny British word) swilling sips of a most perfect black brew!

    • Glad you brought your own to the party, Laura. I also munched on a pastry as I had my coffee. 😀

      It is indeed a good read! I love that books for kids are for kids of all ages! Yeah! 😃

  5. Great interview, Linda and Caroline. I love the title and cover and look forward to reading the book! I remember Susan Fletcher saying how each book requires its own unique process.

  6. Hi all! It’s so nice to meet you all, too. And good to know I’m not the only writer out there who procrastinates in the kitchen! Thank you so much for having me on the blog today, Linda.

  7. I am intrigued by the idea of the end of the world being a place you step into and your different places sound interesting, Caroline. Best of wishes to you – and I love the cover. It says “come with me”. Wonderful interview, L. Marie – much thanks.

  8. I wrote in 1970 a ecological story titled ” Island of the Cow ” but I did not have Caroline ‘ s imagination !! 🙂
    It was the story of a new world lost in the ocean.
    Love ❤

  9. Wonderful interview, L. Marie! Thanks so much for hosting Caroline. It was fun to read her answers to your questions and also interesting to hear how the drafting of this latest book was so much different from the drafting of her previous novels.

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