Rosanne Tolin

Kidlit Author

Inspiring Young Readers, One Page at a Time.

About Me

What’s the who, what, where?

I grew up in St. Louis, MO with my five siblings; I was named after two of my great grandmothers, Rose and Anne. After graduating from Indiana University, I moved to Chicago for law school. For the past two decades I’ve lived an hour from the Windy City, near Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes National Park.

When and why did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I remember reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are when I was a little girl and thinking it was brilliant! I was mesmerized by Max’s narrow escape from a mysterious island of wild, gnashing creatures, and indignant when he was sent to bed with no supper. The Paddington Bear series pulled me in, too; he’s such a bumbling, lovable character! When a fable I wrote (about a narcissistic flower) was selected for a read-aloud by my third-grade teacher, fate was sealed. But Judy Blume’s books had the most profound impact on my middle grade years, and I found my niche penning novels for that age group.

How do you come up with your stories?

Most of my story ideas show up when I go for a daily run. And sometimes, I write standing up—for some reason, my imagination expands when I’m physically active. I also do a lot of research-y sleuthing (and eavesdropping on people’s conversations when I’m out in public)—which really isn’t so weird for most writers. I used to be a journalist, so that sneaky stuff is in me.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Take long hikes with my two dogs, eat peanut butter and granola—and peanut butter granola—and read! And play Scrabble with my husband Hal and our four kids when we’re all together (but I usually lose because I’m not as strategic as they are). Oh, I also like to dance at weddings. I like dancing in general.

What surprising thing have you learned about writing books?

As much as I love writing, it’s hard. (But, like author Rebecca Makkai says, it’s not coal mining.) Revising is even harder. Something else surprising is that, when I start writing a new book, it feels like I’m learning my craft all over again. Each manuscript is needy in its own way.

What do you think makes a good story?

Messy, flawed characters that you still want to root for!

What are you hoping readers take away from your books?

No matter how awful things are (or seem), there’s always hope. Ultimately, inner strength counts for way more than having big muscles. Then again, to quote my youngest son, “It’s not (always) that deep.” Sometimes I just want to make my readers smile.