Hello, everyone, and happy Spring!
I am so honored and excited to have the amazing Rajani LaRocca visit KidLit Oasis and chat with me! I've been enjoying her spectacular journey in the kidlit world and couldn't be happier for her! Rajani is having a wild ride and I cannot wait to hear more about it! Plus, one lucky reader will win a copy of her new picture book, I'll Go and Come Back.
Welcome, Rajani! Thank you for joining me on the blog. Congratulations on all your successes and your new release! How did it all start for you? Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
RL: My first career is as a doctor, and I came back to writing later in my life. In 2011, I started taking online and then in person writing classes and connected with other writers. In 2013, I became more serious about trying to be traditionally published. In 2014, I finished the first draft of my first novel. I signed with my agent in late 2017 after many, many rejections. He offered representation on the basis of my middle grade novel, but I also had five picture books I thought were “ready” at the time. In 2018, we sold five books, and since then we haven’t stopped!
When I first started writing, I was worried I’d run out of ideas. Now I know that I’ll never have the time to write all the ideas I have.
I’ll Go and Come Back is the first book we ever sold, way back in March 2018…and here it is, releasing four years later! It’s been a long wait, but it was worth it. The beautiful illustrations by Sara Palacios perfectly fit this story of my heart.
Q: What do you find most challenging in this business, either on the creative or publishing side of things? What do you find most rewarding? What helps you stay motivated?
RL: It can be a challenge to balance writing new books, editing current ones, doing marketing, and coordinating appearances while still working at my job in medicine and having a family life.
Revising is so rewarding — it’s such a joy to shape a story into what you want it to be!
Meeting kid readers motivates me so much! Kids are wonderful and funny and wise.
Q: Could you share any craft tools or techniques that you find most helpful to you when working on a project? What does your revision process look like?
RL: Revision is where the magic happens for me! With picture books, I like to think about the big picture — what I’m really trying to say — and make sure my writing serves that. I also paginate to make sure that the plot points of the story are falling in the right places, and that each spread has a unique, illustratable scene. Then I go through and get rid of any extraneous words and try to ensure the language is as vibrant as possible.
Q: What do you consider your biggest publishing career accomplishment so far? On the flip side, what are some of the things you'd like to accomplish in the next year from now?
A: I’m so incredibly honored at the recognition that some of my books have gotten — in particular, Red, White, and Whole, which has won a Newbery Honor, the Walter Dean Myers Award, the Golden Kite Award, and the New England Book Award. But in terms of things I can control, I’m proud to be writing and publishing books for different age groups, fiction and nonfiction, in prose and poetry.
In the next few years, I’d like to try writing for different formats and age groups: YA, chapter books, and maybe even graphic novels!
Q: That's wonderful! So happy for you, these are outstanding accomplishments! What is your vision for this book, I'll Go and Come Back? What kind of impact do you hope it would have on readers?
RL: Book description for I’ll Go and Come Back:
When Jyoti visits her grandmother halfway around the world, she is overwhelmed by the differences between India and home. At first, she feels lonely and out of place, but soon, despite a language barrier, she and Sita Pati are able to understand each other. They form a bond—looking at books together, making designs with colored sand, shopping at the market, playing games, eating chapatis, and sipping warm milk with saffron to bring sweet dreams. When it’s time to part, Jyoti doesn’t want to leave, but then she remembers that in Tamil, people don’t say goodbye, they say “I’ll go and come back.” Sure enough, the two reunite the next summer when Pati visits Jyoti in America, and it’s Jyoti’s turn to make her grandmother feel welcome. Can they create some special memories that will last until the next time they see each other?
I hope that anyone who has ever been separated from someone they love (we all have experience with this over the past 2 years!) resonates with this story of love that stretches across the world and the promise to come back.
Q: What's coming up for you next? Please tell us about any new releases, exciting news, upcoming events, or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
A: I’m going to be at many conferences, online and in person this year! People can find out more on my events page: https://www.rajanilarocca.com/events/
Thank you, Rajani, it was a pleasure chatting with you! Wishing you many more successes, literary joy, and never-ending inspiration!
Connect with Rajani LaRocca
Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor winning middle grade novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks.
G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
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About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.