Meet the Author: Caroline Burau

When did you start writing professionally?

I started writing for newspapers as a columnist and reporter in 1999. I loved the writing, but didn’t always love the fact-finding – the times when I had to try to extract information from people who didn’t necessarily want to talk to me.

In 2003, I became a 911 dispatcher for a county sheriff’s department and began writing about my job, which is how my memoir Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat came about.

Why do you write women's fiction?

started out as literary fiction, but slowly became “chick lit” because I realized I had a lot to say about the diet and fitness industry and that I wanted to say it in a way that wasn’t preachy, but humorous. I started my first diet when I was ten, so I’ve been obsessing about this topic for kind of a long time.

What is your novel Sugarfiend about?

is about a 25-year-old sugar addict named Estelle who reaches her rock-bottom on the diet/binge roller-coaster, quits her job, and goes on an all-you-can-eat Caribbean cruise. But Estelle is shocked – and mad as heck – when she find as many fitness classes and diet seminars as there are pasta bars and chocolate buffets on what’s supposed to be her vacation from it all.

Fueled by a few too many vodka-soaked smoothies, Estelle throws moderation overboard, and it lands her in huge debt. Broke and alone, she’s forced to take a job to pay it all back – as a fitness consultant on the ship. Hilarity, skullduggery, and even some nudity ensue. Huzzah!

Why did you choose to self-publish your novel?

It was surprisingly easy to find a publisher for my first book, Answering 911, because it was a memoir about a profession that hasn’t been written about much, if at all. I had hoped my success in non-fiction could help with Sugarfiend, but novels are more difficult because there are so many and they are more of a risk for the publisher.

After querying more than twenty agents about Sugarfiend, I decided to self-publish, knowing that without a publisher behind me, I would probably sell fewer copies than my first book, but eager to get it out into the world. Writers often say nothing is ever truly finished, just published. After several thorough edits, I knew Sugarfiend was good and I was ready to be “finished.”

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

I find inspiration in the absurd and in issues that affect me as a woman, and there seems to be no shortage of either.

What is the most challenging part about being a writer? What is the most rewarding?

Marketing my books and public speaking make me queasy, but are necessary evils when promoting a book, especially when you self publish.

It’s so rewarding when someone tells me I’ve written something they can relate to or that just made them laugh. A friend recently told me she was laughing too loudly while reading my book on the treadmill at the health club, which is both awesome and ironic.

Why should people buy your book?

If you’ve ever argued out loud with a baked good or a Pilates DVD, Estelle’s adventures will make you giggle. Also, I’ve recently discovered vintage dress shopping online, and it makes crack addiction look downright sensible.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Writing doesn’t always feel magical, but just keep at it because not writing becomes a hard habit to break. And then when you have something written, be willing to edit the hell out of it. It’s not about getting it perfect on the first try.

When you decide what to write, do some research to make sure the market is not already saturated with similar books. Think of what makes your book unique, or it will be hard to sell. Still, don’t write about anything that you’re not passionate about. Most authors don’t make their living at this. You should love your book just for the sake of it. Just the existence of it should make you want to squeal with glee.

What are you working on now?

Most recently, I’ve been writing weekly blogs for, which is keeping my writing chops up and bringing me new readers for both books.

In long-term projects, I have started a new novel about a 911 dispatcher with a sixth sense. I am also interested in researching and writing a true-crime book about a local abduction case, which would be a complete departure from anything I’ve done.

Thanks for answering our questions, Caroline!