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!
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.
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.
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: 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.
Rosanna’s instagram @romori.16
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