Rhonda Gowler Greene is the author of over twenty-five children’s books. A former elementary learning disabilities teacher, Rhonda holds a Master’s in Educational Media. Honors her books have received...
- School Library Journal Best Book
- Children's Book Council Showcase Book
- Bank Street College Best Book
- International Literacy Assoc. Children's Choice Book
- American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists"
- Michigan Reads, One State, One Children's Book Award
- Junior Library Guild Selection
- Sydney Taylor (Assoc. of Jewish Libraries) Notable Book
- Storytelling World Resource Honor Book
- 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 I wanted to write books like that. So after I tucked my kids into bed at night—I wrote.
Are you represented by a literary agency?
I’ve been with Curtis Brown Ltd. (Ten Astor Place, NYC) since 1996. Before acquiring an agent, I had two picture books under contract. Marilyn E. Marlow was my first agent. I was honored 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.
Was it hard to get published?
Very. I got 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.
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. But—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 from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI.
Do you pick who illustrates your books?
I usually have no say in who illustrates my books. 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!)
Where do you live?
I live in the beautiful state of Michigan amidst quiet blue lakes and even quieter snowfalls.
are you married? and do you have kids?
Yes. And yes. Gary and I have four terrific kids (three sons and a daughter). Though they're grown now, they're still a huge part of my life. I'm so proud of them! (We also have three adorable little grandkids. My favorite thing to do with them? Read great children's books!)
where did you grow up?
Southern Illinois (Salem, Mt. Vernon, and Cahokia). The summer before my senior year of 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. It wasn't long before we got married. A few years later, his job took us to Michigan, and it's been 'home sweet home' ever since.
where did you go to college?
Northern Kentucky University for undergrad (B.A. in elementary and special education, minor in music; summa cum laude)
Xavier University in Cincinnati for master's (in educational media)
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! (pic is Dolomites in Italy)
Too, I collect reading figurines. I have over 200.
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.