Author Interview: Ronica Stromberg

Ronica Stromberg is the author of The Time-for-bed Angel (Lion Children's 2008), a bedtime story for children ages 4 - 7 (preschool - first grade). Ronica's pared down writing and Kristina Stephenson's very expressive and sweet (even the word "cuddly" comes to mind :o) ) illustrations tell the story of Andrew, a little boy who can be quite a handful, and his guardian angel Sam. Reading about how Sam helps Andrew settle down to sleep one night is a great way to get your own kids to settle down to sleep for the night!

Into the Wardrobe is proud to present this conversation with Ronica Stromberg:

Where did you get the idea for The Time-for-bed Angel?

When my son was three or four years old, he started resisting going to bed. He'd think up every excuse to stay up longer. One night after putting him to bed several times, I was exhausted and said to him, "Josiah, what about your guardian angel? Don't you think he could use a little rest?" Of course, then we ended up on a discussion of guardian angels. He'd seen the "monster in the closet" and the "monster under the bed" in bedtime stories, but he'd never seen a guardian angel in a bedtime story. It seemed to me that an angel would make for a far more reassuring and comforting bedtime story than all the monsters in bedtime stories--especially if a child is afraid of the dark. As I left his room that night, I thought about the possibility of writing such a bedtime story. I researched the market, and when I couldn't find a single bedtime story with a guardian angel in it, I decided to write the book.

[Here is] a photo of me with my two sons, Josiah and James. Josiah, the one on the right, inspired The Time-for-bed Angel. This photo was taken around the time when he was still struggling with a bedtime.

What was the road to publication for The Time-for-bed Angel?

I don't have an agent, so I had to go through the slush pile. I tried both the inspirational/religious and mainline markets in the United States. I made a list of the top publishers that would be the best fit for the book. Once I had gone through that list, I picked two of the largest, best-known publishers overseas--one for the mainline market and one for the inspirational market. The inspirational publisher, Lion-Hudson, purchased The Time-for-bed Angel.

What do you want readers to take away from The Time-for-bed Angel?

Since The Time-for-bed Angel is a book parents would read aloud to children, I'm hoping the children are put at ease by the idea that they are loved and watched over at all times--even through the night.

What inspires you as a writer? What motivates you to write for young readers?

I love books. I always have. I knew at eight years old that I wanted to be a children's book author.

What are your favorite children's and young adult books?

My favorite children's book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I also really like The Borrowers and mysteries of any sort. For young adults, I find The Adrian Mole Diaries hilarious, but although this book has a main character in his teens, I suspect it's written more for adults because you almost have to have some distance from your teen years to appreciate the humor in them.

What children's or young adult books are you reading now?

Right now I'm reading a book for adults, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. This is a National Book Award finalist, so I'm dissecting the writing for any tips I can garner. I read a broad range of books, not limiting myself to children's or young adult books.

Do you keep up with the blogs of the kidlitosphere? Which do you read regularly? Have you considered starting your own blog?

I've been invited to serve as a blogger for one site of children's writers and have been considering this seriously. What makes me hesitate is that I have limited time to write as it is, and if I start blogging, that may be all the writing I get done. I already spend way too much time reading writing newsletters, magazines, e-zines, blogs, etc. It's important to keep up on the market, but I know I need to be careful not to spend so much of my time reading about or discussing writing that I never do it.

Can you tell us about The Glass Inheritance, your middle grade novel published in 2001?

This is a mystery centered on the Depression Era glassware a 12-year-old girl, Samantha, inherits from her grandmother. Samantha's grandmother has left her clues she must solve to obtain the rest of her inheritance. As Samantha does so, she also learns about the Depression Era, World War II, and her grandmother's hidden past. (Grandmother was once engaged to a man in the German-American Bund.) The publisher of this book produces fiction for the classroom, novels that can be used to complement the curriculum. The Glass Inheritance fits with the fifth-grade curriculum in most schools.

[Here is] a photo of me from a book signing [for The Glass Inheritance]... The photo of me with the glass was taken at the time The Glass Inheritance came out, and all the glass in the photo is Depression Era glass, the subject of the book.

Can you tell us about Wrappers, A Shadow in the Dark, and Living It Up to Live It Down, your young adult novels to be published this year?

These three teen novels will be published by the same publisher as The Glass Inheritance. Wrappers addresses abstinence from a teen boy's point of view. A Shadow in the Dark is a mystery about a girl that has been seen at the windows of a farmhouse but never comes out. Living It Up to Live It Down is about a pastor's daughter who lives it up at school to try to live down the fact that she's a pastor's daughter.

If you could choose only one, which would you choose: for your books to be award-winning, or for your books to be bestselling? Why?

Bestselling. It's most important to me that my books are read.

What book would you like your work to match or surpass (in terms of writing, impact, popularity, sales, or awards)?

This is a highly competitive business, but I try not to set up any other book or writer as a yardstick to measure my own success. I just try to do the best work I'm capable of and let it go from there.

Thank you so much for sharing, Ronica. I think that The Time-for-bed Angel is a great little bedtime story. (Folks, I highly recommend it!) And your novels for middle graders and teens sound very interesting. I wish you all the best for 2009, Ronica! :o)


Ronica Stromberg said…
Tarie, It was great talking with you and I really enjoy your site and the way you incorporate photos. Thanks for inviting me for this author interview!
Tarie said…
It was my pleasure, Ronica. :o) Thank you for your kind words about my blog!
Katie said…
I've always loved children's picture books centered around bedtime. It probably comes from my family's bedtime ritual, a story every night at bedtime! Thanks so much for the post and author interview!
Tarie said…
Hi, Katie. :o) I'm glad you enjoyed this post. I think reading The Time-for-bed Angel would be a great bedtime ritual for families!
The Book Chook said…
I particularly liked the question you asked Ronica about seeking out publishers for her book. It is always interesting and often encouraging to explore a writer's road to success. Thanks, Tarie!
Tarie said…
Thanks too, Susan (The Book Chook)! Ronica's story is inspiring. :o) I imagine many writers would give up if it seemed like all the publishers in their own country wouldn't publish their book.
Daniel said…
What a great interview!
Tarie said…
Thank you so much, Daniel! :o)