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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

3 Question Interview - JOANNA ROWLAND

Happy double book birthday to Joanna Rowland! I really enjoy the insights that Joanna provides in my 3 question interview. Read on for her thoughts about stories, creativity and connection:

STORIES -- Discuss what inspires your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Melissa!

For The Monstructor I was teaching 1st grade at the time and it was one of those windy days where even the students that always listen didn’t. They couldn’t hear the freeze bell, or the teacher voice. Nothing worked. It was just a silly day. When I got them to the carpet, I half jokingly said I was going to write them a book. The title came to me in that moment The Monstructor. Kind of like a monster instructor. I thought of Miss Nelson’s Gone Missing meets Twas’ the Night Before series. I loved both those books. Those books along with my students, inspired me to write about monsters at school that forgot their manners by acting like humans. The fun part was those students got to see my writing process and drafts as I worked on the story.

For The Memory Box A Book About Grief it was a very different experience. Back in 2014 a relative was meant to have my first published book Always Mom, Forever Dad (a book about divorce), but her dad passed away one month before it came out. I knew she didn’t need my divorce book anymore, but another one. I knew I was meant to write about grief. It took me two years to get the story right and sadly while working on my grief book, my daughters lost a friend. I knew this book needed to change into being for anyone who has lost a loved one. This topic would not let go of me. I had to write this book.

CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?

Growing up I didn’t feel very creative with the exception of I was a synchronized swimmer. I loved how the music I swam to could bring forth an emotion in people and in me. It wasn’t until my thirties when I was at a professional development for teachers on writers workshop that the light bulb went on that I could create books that could make people feel. The writing dream came to me in 2009 and has never let go.

CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?

The best part about teaching young kids is that I get to read picture books to them everyday. Everyday! I get to see what stories captivate their young minds, what makes them laugh out loud, what books make them feel like they can’t wait to share about their similar experience. I love having a writing wall and calling my students authors and illustrators. It’s also fun to show them book sketches as I receive them so they get a sneak peek at behind the scenes of making a book.

The KidLit community is amazing. Amazing! I think I went to my first SCBWI conference in 2011. I’ve gone every year since to my local SCBWI conference and now I volunteer too at it. I also pick another conference on the west coast to drive or fly to throughout the year. You learn so much there but my favorite part are the connections I’ve made with other writers. I love going to their book launches and supporting their successes along the way. But I also love sharing our struggles as writers and the encouragement we have for each other to keep writing. So between conferences, critique groups, coffee dates, and Twitter, I try to stay involved with my writer friends and the community. They are the best!

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Thanks, Joanna! I am so excited to get my own copies of THE MONSTRUCTOR and THE MEMORY BOX!

Joanna's Bio:

Joanna Rowland grew up in Sacramento, California where she still lives today with her husband and three children. She teaches Kindergarten by day and writes picture books at night. In the summer you'll find her at the pool coaching synchronizing swimming or cozying up with a book.

Connect with Joanna:

Twitter - @WriterRowland


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