Rhonda Gowler Greene is the author of over twenty children’s books. A former elementary learning disabilities teacher, Rhonda holds a Master’s in Educational Media. Her first book sale was Barnyard Song to Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. Her books have received the following honors.
American Booksellers "Pick of the List"
Children's Book Council Showcase Book
Bank Street College Best Book
International Literacy Association Children's Choice Book
2014-2015 FL Reading Association Children's Book Award nominee
2015-2016 Nebraska Golden Sower Award nominee
2015-2016 Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award nominee
2016 Kansas Reading Assoc. Bill Martin, Jr. Award nominee
Junior Library Guild Selection
Sydney Taylor (Association of Jewish Libraries) Notable Book
Storytelling World Honor Book
Moonbeam Children's Book Award
Michigan Reads, One State, One Children's Book Award
starred reviews (Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist)
An interview with Rhonda...
What made you want to become a children's author?
I love books. And I love kids. Growing up, I dreamed of being a teacher, which I was out of college. When I had kids of my own, though, I quit teaching and was a stay-at-home mom. I read and read and read to my kids (sorry dirty dishes!). The more I read really delightful children’s books, the more they made me want to write books like that. So after I tucked my kids into bed at night—I wrote.
Was it hard to get published?
Very. These are my 220 rejections before I made my first sale. And I still get rejections. I think it takes a tremendous amount of the 3 P’s to get published… Passion, Persistence, and Patience.
Are you represented by a literary agency?
I’ve been with Curtis Brown Ltd. (NYC) since 1996. (I had 2 picture books under contract before acquiring an agent.) Marilyn E. Marlow was my first agent. I was honored that she took me on. She was a legend in her field. Sadly, Marilyn passed away in 2003. I’m honored now to be represented by the very talented Elizabeth Harding.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
For me, ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. They often pop! in my head when I least expect them. Sometimes when I’m actually trying to think up a new story idea, I can’t think of a thing. I get most of my ideas when reading and studying other children’s books. My house is like a library—I own hundreds!
Do you illustrate your stories?
No. I’m not even good at drawing stick figures. But—maybe I have some hidden illustrator genes in me because my youngest son, Brad, is a talented artist! He has a degree in illustration.
Do you pick who illustrates your books?
I usually have no say in who illustrates my manuscripts. The editors choose. There have been a few exceptions. I must say, it’s really fun to finally see my written words come to life through pictures. The illustrations are usually even better than what I imagined!
How do you pronounce Gowler?
rhymes with ‘how-ler’ (no “r” after the “G,” though people often slip one in there!)
Are you married?
Yes, over 35 years to this handsome guy.
Gary's an international tax accountant. He loves playing with numbers while I love playing with words! Through the years, his business travels have taken him all over the world.
I like the picture books about the alligators, Mr. and Mrs. Green(e), by Keith Baker. Here are two lines from Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green(e)...
Life with Mrs. Green(e) was full of adventure. (True!)
Life with Mr. Green(e) was full of surprises. (True!)
Gary and I have been to many wonderful places in the world and some remote ones (like far far farrrrr out in NW Ireland). And he's taken me up flying.
Where do you live?
I live in the beautiful state of Michigan amidst quiet blue lakes and even quieter snowfalls.
Where did you grow up?
Southern Illinois (Salem, Mt. Vernon, and Cahokia). The summer before my senior year in high school, my family moved to northern Kentucky. I did not want to move! Within a year though, there was a happy ending—I met Gary. A few years later, we packed up and moved to Michigan and it’s been ‘home sweet home’ ever since.
Where did you go to college?
Northern KY University for undergrad (B.A. in elementary and special education; summa cum laude)
Xavier University in Cincinnati for master’s (in educational media)
How many kids do you have?
Four terrific kids. Though they’re grown now, they are still a huge part of my life. I’m so proud of them!
Matt, our oldest, has a degree in GIS (geographic information science; Michigan State Univeristy). He works for Mapbox in San Francisco as a data analyst and web developer creating interactive maps and websites for such places as the United Nations, NPR, the World Food Programme, etc.
Aaron received a degree in music/guitar performance from Berklee College of Music in Boston. After working in the music industry and also as a paramedic, Aaron decided to change careers. He will graduate from Sidney Kimmel Medical College/Thomas Jefferson Univ. in Philadelphia in June, 2016, and then begin his psychiatry residency in Los Angeles.
Lianna, our animal lover, earned her degree in zoology. Out of college, she worked in a research lab at Michigan State University (one of her jobs involved dissecting goldfish brains!). She's married to Andy, an attorney in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They're proud parents of Julian Isaac (born 4/27/12). Julian is a sweetie!!
Brad, our youngest, is a Kendall College of Art and Design grad (and a talented illustrator!) He loves working with pen and ink. He writes and illustrates comics and graphic novels. He also does commissioned artwork. Currently, Brad lives, draws, writes, (and makes music too) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. www.bradgreene.com
Update: They’re also proud parents of Mackenzie Elaina (born 4/27/14 – yes, on Julian’s 2nd birthday!). Mackenzie is a sweetie too!!
What are your hobbies?
I love to read. And I love to travel. I’ve gotten to visit Europe several times. How lucky is that!
Too, I collect reading figurines. 179 at last count.
And I play the piano. I minored in music/piano in college and often think my music background influences the way I love to write with rhythm and rhyme.
For more about my writing and books, see…
WBCL Author Author Radio Interview (audio, 9 min.)
International Reading Association 5 Questions With...Rhonda Gowler Greene
India’s BookChums Interview
Children's Bookstore Interview
RhyPiBoMo Guest Blog Post
Jumping the Candlestick interview
Something about the Author series at your library