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Fun and Frolic: An Interview with Janice Laakko, author of Gloppy and Addition Problems

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Janice Laakko likes to have fun! When she was a young child, she enjoyed doing character imitations and performing in backyard plays (she was once an explorer, and another time a “professor of magic tricks”!). As a mother, she threw themed birthday parties for her kids and their friends. Whether they were baking in her kitchen, building spaceships from giant boxes and foil, or competing in backyard Olympics, a good time was had by everyone!

Throughout her adult life, she has written in a variety of genres, but writing for kids is her passion. Creativity is part of what makes her life so rich and satisfying.

Janice is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

You can buy Addition Problems here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The title for my children’s novel, Gloppy, was an easy choice. Once I wrote about the main character’s big mistake, Gloppy was a perfect fit!

The title for the sequel, Addition Problems, was also an easy choice. The family decides to add on rooms to their house, and everything goes wrong! It also gives me fodder for a joke at my author talks—“No, kids, it’s not about math!”

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I loved the look of Gloppy’s cover, as evidenced by the twenty photos of me posing with it! LOL.

The cover of Addition Problems was amazing as well. Kevin Stone went above and beyond my expectations for the covers!

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

All my life, I have been known as a storyteller. The wackiest things happen to me! My friends are often amused by my anecdotes and say, “That could only happen to you!” My books are not autobiographical at all, but the humorous life I lead fuels my creativity to go beyond and think about what different challenges I can give my characters!

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked in medicine and education. And…I once held an alligator! LOL.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

It means a lot to me that my books can be read by young children. Receiving the Gold Book Award from Literary Titan for Gloppy helped me see that my work has merit, and that was very exciting!

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

The perfect readers would be kids aged 8-11. My books have subtle lessons on conflict resolution and human relationships. The characters go through challenges and play pranks on others. Feedback I have received includes comments like, “My son says that he has an ‘Andrew’ in his class!” My hope is that kids will see themselves in the story and gain some strategies for dealing with their own challenges. I want them to laugh out loud at the wacky humor that is sprinkled in for balance!

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am currently working on the third and fourth books in the series.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

The Atmosphere Press team has been so supportive! Developmental Editor Kyle McCord offered helpful suggestions to make the books better. Kevin Stone is an amazing cover artist! Cameron Finch and Hayla Alawi were helpful with marketing ideas. The layout team was patient and did a great job. Evan Courtright built a nice website. I appreciate their professionalism and expertise!

One piece of advice I would give to other writers is that writing the book is the easy part! The real challenge is marketing! I am beginning author talks at libraries and hope to branch out to school visits one day soon.

You can buy Addition Problems here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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