#RisingStarsinKidLit Rosanna Montanaro

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To close out this crazy and unprecedented year, I wanted to take some time to highlight my fellow kidlit creators who are working their tails off to birth their beautiful book babies into the world.  These interviews will cast a light on the wonderful work of these pre-published authors and author-illustrators who are destined to be stars!

Meet Rising Star
Author-Illustrator Rosanna Montanaro!​

 

Rosanna's busy mum was a hairdresser and gave her plenty of free haircuts that she didn’t like.

Rosanna’s busy mum was a hairdresser and gave her plenty of free haircuts that she didn’t like.

​Growing up, Rosanna was drawing, reading books, and practicing cartwheels on her front lawn. Her busy mum was a hairdresser and gave her plenty of free haircuts that she didn’t like. Her dad was a music teacher, so classical and Italian music were the soundtrack of her childhood. She still loves music and feels it right down to her toes. Today, if she’s not at her desk Rosanna can be found on her yoga mat, sometimes upside down. 

After a 15-year career in sales and marketing, Rosanna is finally able to explore her life-long passion for children’s books. Rosanna lives with her three daughters and husband in Toronto, in a home stocked with good chocolate chip cookies, pasta and fresh bread. Oh, those cheeky carbs. Rosanna has a rule inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt: Do one thing each day that is cheeky.
 
Rosanna is seeking agent representation.
© 2020 Rosanna Montanaro Art

© 2020 Rosanna Montanaro Art

 
 

 
​Welcome, Rosanna! I’m so excited to have you here and chat about all things kidlit and creativity! 

​AD: Let’s start with a speed round…

  • Top three favorite children’s books of all time?

​        ​“Ramona” by Beverly Cleary , “Counting by 7s” by Holly Goldberg Sloan, “Julian is a  
           Mermaid” by Jessica Love … (and I am SOO not a rule-breaker but can I please add) …
          “I Am A Thief” written by Abigail Rayner and illustrated by Molly Ruttan.

  • Coffee, tea (or neither)? ​ Both, please. 
  • Where is your safe place? Lucky to have two — my yoga mat and my den.
  • Dogs, cats, (or neither)? Dogs.
  • Early bird or night owl? Early bird.
  • Three words to describe what it takes to make it in the kidlit world…
    Perseverance, imagination, and passion.

AD: Okay, now down to the serious stuff….

AD: Please dish us the dirt on who you are and your journey into the fabulous world of children’s books.

RM: I’m the daughter of two Italian hard-working immigrants. I’m a woman, she/her, a feminist, a mum of three girls, and a wife. I always feel the most alive when I’m creating something, and have a similar experience when I flow on my yoga mat. I love to read books, and love reading with my kids. Ah, the library, a book store, a hammock, a dock, a cozy corner. All this led me here. I finally allowed myself the nerve to try to fulfill this dream. Yikes!

AD: I can totally relate to that spark you feel when creating and congrats to you for giving yourself permission to fulfill your dreams. That can be a scary leap. Hurrah! 

AD: Did you always know you wanted to be an author-illustrator? Have you explored other paths or had/have other jobs?
​ 

RM: I was always writing, drawing, and reading, but I never thought it could be more. In fact, I’m not sure how much I ever thought about the people who wrote books. Were they real? My loving parents worked very hard and were the funniest people, they just didn’t know it. They didn’t guide me into the creative fields, but did give me guidance that led me to earn a degree to work in practical fields. These jobs had plenty of rewards, but never fueled me. Then, with the birth of my third daughter, I became a stay-at-home mum. 

AD: What topics or themes do you tend to focus on in your writing/art? Favorite genres you like to write in or favorite art materials/techniques?

RM: I love exploring humour in picture books, but I’ve also written more serious tales, and stories that fall in between. I love honouring little girls, children who are looking for their place in this world, and looking to see themselves validated. I want to pay tribute to loved ones I’ve lost. I just completed a chapter book, which is a modern-day kid escapade. I still can’t believe it, but I had so much fun creating it!  In regards to my art, I love exploring watercolour, alcohol-marker pens, and collage. I love a good pencil, too!

​AD: Congrats on your chapter books! What a huge accomplishment! I admire authors who can write in multiple genres and hope to do so myself one day, too 🙂 I love your unique art style and muted color palette! I remember you said you recently started working in Procreate. I love how willing you are to take risks and try new things with your art. I think it’s so important to continue to expand our skills and evolve in our craft.   

© 2020 Rosanna Montanaro Art

© 2020 Rosanna Montanaro Art

 
AD: Breaking into the publishing industry is not easy! What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced thus far? What have you done to persevere?
 
RM: The biggest challenge has been dealing with the extreme highs and lows. One day I’m on cloud nine and feeling creative, and the next day I learn something which contradicts. Ouch. I’ve been learning how long things take in publishing, and it’s daunting. I am painfully aware of how short life is, and to balance this with the concept that life/creating is a marathon, can be tough! 
 
But, I put my head back down to learn and practice the craft. And most importantly, I simply feel the JOY creating provides me. 
 
AD: Yes! Joy is so important–especially to help us persevere through the crazy roller coaster of our creative journey. If we don’t love what we are doing and creating, there is less motivation to continue when things get hard. 
 

 

© 2020 Rosanna Montanaro Art
 
AD: As creators (and humans), we tend to focus on the flaws of our creations or areas for improvement. This helps us grow and develop, but we need not forget the many things we are doing well.  With this in mind, what has been your biggest accomplishment or something you are most proud of thus far on your writing/illustration journey?
 

RM: Getting right back at it. Even after I feel inferior, or after failure — I get back in the ring. I’m also proud of my chapter book story. I completed the whole book and loved every minute of it. 
 
AD: You are brave!! I remember watching a talk from Brené Brown last year called, The Call to Courage. It was a great reminder to choose courage over comfort even when there is fear and uncertainty. I think as creators we need to do this constantly in order to succeed. Every time you get back up and get back in the ring, you are choosing courage! Yay for you, Rosanna! 
 
AD: In a similar vein, what do you feel are your strengths as an author/illustrator? What makes your art/writing unique to you?
 
RM: I work hard and want to get better, always. I love to learn. What would I say to my daughters or a dear friend? We each have our own stories to tell. We each have our own experiences, and it’s important to learn from one another. I try to remember to give myself the same consideration.
 
AD: Yes! Telling our stories is so important and you never know who is going to connect and relate to your story. Learning from one another is a great way to understand one another better and bring to light that we may have more in common than we think. 
© 2020 Rosanna Montanaro Art

© 2020 Rosanna Montanaro Art

 

AD: What inspires your work? 

RM: Every big and little thing. My children, friends and family, music — ALL the music — news, novels, artists, learning. Oh, and passionate people.

AD: Tell us about your creative process and what you do to keep ideas flowing or what you do when feeling stuck?
 

RM: I listen to a lot of music. Music gets me closer to what I feel I might be missing. Sometimes it’s rock, folk, and classical. Watch Hans Zimmer LIVE, “Now We Are Free” (with Czarina Russell) or “The Dark Knight” (with Uyanga Bold) — the women’s voices, the strings. Glorious. I also read all kinds of books and articles. I do yoga, and walk. Nature is key. I swim in a lake and ride a paddle board. I watch and listen to people.

AD: So much inspiration! I love it. Music helps me connect, too! There’s something so universal and raw about it. I’ll have to check out Hans Zimmer LIVE and “The Dark Night.”  Thanks for the recommendations 🙂

AD: What sorts of things have been most integral in your growth as an author-illustrator?

RM: Learning through workshops put on by passionate storytellers: and finding that there is not only one way to do it. And if you follow your heart, you will never go wrong.

​AD: Yes! There are multiple paths towards accomplishing our dreams and goals. This is a great reminder that everyone’s path looks different and not to compare.   

AD: What advice do you have for fellow kidlit creatives?

RM: Keep writing and learning the craft. Take advantage of authors’ websites and resources. Read all genres. If you can, join SCBWI. And then throw all the rules aside. Feel free and create. Be part of critique writing groups. The analysis of other’s work and receiving feedback on your own, is very important. You’ll learn how to process the critiques you’re given — how to figure out when a suggestion resonates, or to ignore it and stick with your gut. The stories don’t have to go somewhere. In fact, don’t send them anywhere. Wait. Ideas will come to make it even better.

You can learn more about Rosanna and her work HERE!Rosanna’s Twitter @CheekyPippa 
Rosanna’s instagram @romori.16

Rosanna’s BLOG! 
 
Rosanna, thank you so much for sharing a bit about yourself and contributing to the Rising Stars in Kidlit series! We can’t wait to read your stories and see your work in the hands of young readers! Feel free to drop a comment below to support Rosanna and her work. Stay tuned for next week where we get to meet another Rising Star in Kidlit, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out and follow along on Twitter at #RisingStarsinKidlit! 

If you are interested in being featured in the Rising Stars in KidLit series, please complete the following Getting to Know You form to be considered. Thank you!

Responses to “#RisingStarsinKidLit Rosanna Montanaro”

  1. Dedra Davis

    Rosanna, your artwork is gorgeous. I found your words very inspiring! We all need to fail forward together! Amanda, another good one!!

    Reply
    • Rosanna Montanaro

      Thank you for reading this, Dedra! Appreciate your words so much. I wish you success – I look forward to reading your books one day!! And yes to forward movement!! And thanks to the incredibly talented Amanda. I’ve learned so much from you already. I look forward to reading your books, Amanda!! xo

      Reply
  2. Bonnie Kelso

    Rosanna, I love your attitude on this journey! It reminds me that I need to hit the mat more often. I’m loving your drawing stye and that last image of the dancer is stunning. Best wishes to you on fulfilling your dreams.

    Reply
    • Rosanna Montanaro

      Bonnie, thank you so much! Getting to the mat even to just breathe some days. I appreciate your words – I wish you all the best as well! Thanks again. Your comments have made my day. A bright spot in a tough tough year.

      Reply

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