THE MEMORY BOX and THE MONSTRUCTOR by Joanna Rowland
Joanna Rowland has a knack for writing the exact picture books that children and their parents need. Whether the subject is divided households, like in her book ALWAYS MOM, FOREVER DAD, fun monsters, or grief, readers of all ages can expect stories that are both entertaining and heartwarming. Her latest books, THE MEMORY BOX, and the MONSTRUCTOR offer readers a perfect way to transition from October to November.
From the perspective of a young child, Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it is like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one, to help in the grieving process. Heartfelt and comforting, The Memory Box will help children and adults talk about this very difficult topic together. The unique point of view allows the reader to imagine the loss of any they have loved – a friend, family member, or even a pet. A parent guide in the back includes expert information from a Christian perspective on helping children manage the complex and difficult emotions they feel when they lose someone they love, as well as suggestions on how to create their own memory box.
Naughty Monsters. Have they forgot? To learn their manners they must be taught. Little monsters are acting like humans at school. Oh no! Their teacher gets the Monstructor to come in a save the day.
In our last interview, you said that you send yourself away for a weekend once a year. Is this still true, and what other ways do you refill your creative well when it runs dry?
I haven’t gone away by myself recently. But I do try to take a retreat with a few writers. The last time I did that, everyone from that retreat sold what they were working on. I can only hope that luck will happen again.
When I feel like I have writers block I try a couple of things. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I take a break and just live for a few weeks and come back with fresh eyes. I spend lots of time on drives thinking about the book I’m working on.
Sounds like a great way to recharge. THE MEMORY BOX provides a needed lens into the grieving process, especially for young and emerging readers. When did the idea for the book first come to you, and what ways has it developed since?
I knew I needed to write about grief when a relative who was supposed to receive my first book Always Mom, Forever Dad, a book on divorce, had a parent that passed away. My first attempt on writing about grief started out as a nature poem from the perspective of the deceased. I still have a place in my heart for that one too. Then I tried writing about grief form the perspective of animals. It didn’t feel right. I thought about how I would help my young child deal with grief. Then the concept for Memory Box came, but it has had so many versions. So many different voices. So many first lines. I took it to conferences, retreats, readers, and pretty much anywhere I could. I never could get an agent with this but I can say this book has taught me the most about revisions and new visions than anything else I have ever written. I’m so thankful for the rejections. They just pushed me to try harder. I was not going to give up.
And we thank you for it! If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?
I’d tell my younger writer self, “Write the words you want to write. Don’t worry about spelling. Don’t worry about punctuation. Get your words down the way you want to hear them and the rest will follow.”
Well said. If you were stuck on an island with only five books, what would you want them to be and why?
Only 5? That’s tough. I picked 3 YA and 2 PBs:
Twilight because this book awakened me back into reading for the love of reading.
The Hunger Games,
The Wonderful Things You Will Be,
What Do You Do With An Idea,
THE MEMORY BOX