rae carson

Walk on Earth a Stranger takes a place in 1849. It’s about a 16-year-old girl who has the magical ability to sense gold. When gold is discovered in California it could make all her dreams come true, and it could make her rich beyond her wildest imagination. Of course, in 1849, everyone has gold fever and wants what she can do. A very greedy relative destroys her family and her home. She has to flee west to escape him but also to make her dreams come true. It’s a moving story about how you reform relationships when you’ve lost everything—how you find who you are and who you want to be in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

What theme song you would select for your book?
I have been told by my friend author C. J. Redwine that the theme song for my book is Kayne West’s “Gold Digger.” The whole time I was drafting this book, C.J. would send me emails saying, “So how’s Gold Digger coming?” And that became the title of the book for whenever we would talk about it, too. 

Which of your characters do you most closely relate to?
There’s a character in the book named Mrs. Joyner. She’s a married woman with two children, and she has been forced west by her husband. She is “civilized,” she comes from money, and she comes from a good southern family. She does not want to go west. She is clinging to the tenets of “civilization,” and she is trying very hard to keep control over these aspects of her life even as they are gradually taken away as she crosses the continent. She can’t set the table the same way she used to, and she can’t do all these things she used to. I relate to her because my tendency is to over-control when I feel like I’m losing track of my life. I tend to cling to things, so I really relate to her. It’s funny because I don’t think she’s a character that people will like. She probably displays my worst attributes, but I do really empathize with her.

Fans of _______ will love my book.
I think that fans of Little House on the Prairie will love my book, and I think that fans of the book and movie True Grit will love my book. It’s girls kind of kicking butt in the 1800s. It’s a little bit feminist but not in-your-face feminist. It’s definitely about young women trying to find themselves and grow up in a really hard and interesting time in history.

What or who was inspiration behind your book?
About eight years ago, I met this guy online. I thought he was really of cool and kind of hot, and he thought I was kind of cool and kind of hot! We decided to get married like you do when you meet someone online! He flew out to California (I’m a native Californian), and we threw everything we could possibly fit, including my two cats, into my car. We drove across the country to Ohio where he lived. I’m driving through this countryside, and I’m realizing that it’s like the reverse migration of what the pioneers did during the 19th century. We traveled through all these places that I talk about in the book, but in the reverse direction. The whole time I was thinking that it was amazing that I was doing what they did, but I was doing it in six days instead of six months! I’m starting this new life and new adventure. I was so excited, but I was already missing my home desperately. That’s when I thought about the idea of this book. What would it be like when America was so new to settlers? I mean, people have been here for millennia, but it was new to Europeans. What would that be like to drop everything and leave to go into the wild? That’s what Ohio felt like to me.