Six Questions with Anna Lazowski
Anna Lazowski wrote her first picture book for a class assignment in the sixth grade and has been creating stories ever since. Now an award-winning radio producer, Anna has an MA (Journalism) from the University of Western Ontario and a BFA (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba Anna’s debut picture book, T. Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes (Doubleday Books for Young Readers), illustrated by Steph Laberis, was published June 29, 2021. Her second book, Dark Cloud, (Kids Can Press), illustrated by Penny Neville-Lee, will be published in Spring 2023. Anna's journalistic work has been published in various newspapers and magazines, and she has been a nationally syndicated radio columnist covering music and health. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with her husband and kids, and their dogs, Rocky and Rosie. Visit Anna's website to learn more about her and her work.
1. What was your favorite book when you were a child? Why?
I honestly think I would be a completely different person if I hadn’t read The Paper Bag Princess when I was little. It was written by Robert Munsch with illustrations by Michael Martchenko, and it came out in 1980 when I was five. It was the only book I remember reading when I was a kid that had anything remotely resembling a feminist theme, and a female main character that pushed back against patriarchal expectations. It was published by Annick Press, a Canadian publisher, and one of my bucket list items is to publish a book with them too.
2. What are you working on? What’s next for you?
I just sold a book I’m extremely excited about, and I’ll look forward to talking more about that many months from now. I’m also looking forward to seeing the final art for my second book, DARK CLOUD, which is being illustrated by the incredible Penny Neville-Lee. It’s a book that uses symbolism to help kids understand what depression can look and feel like. I think it’s an incredibly important topic and the art I’ve seen so far is absolutely stunning. It will be out in spring of 2023 with Kids Can Press.
3. Do you work on multiple projects at the same time?
I always have multiple projects in various stages because if I get stuck on one I can drop it in a drawer and come back to it when the timing feels right. It’s funny, I have one manuscript I absolutely love that’s been parked for almost two years. I know it needs about 10 minutes of work but I just haven’t felt like the moment is right for it yet.
4. What was the timeline for T Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes, from idea to publishing?
I wrote the first draft in January of 2019 and it was acquired by Frances Gilbert at Doubleday during #PBPitch six months later. It was published June 29, 2021, just over two years after it was acquired.
5. What’s a particularly striking or memorable reaction someone has had to this book?
I hadn’t told anyone that I’d started writing books for kids. Mostly I was doing it for myself, as a creative outlet. So when I found out Frances was going to acquire T. Rexes, I was suddenly in this very strange position where I had to tell my family not only that I had been writing, but that I had sold a book to one of the biggest publishers in the world. It was a lot of surprising news to break all at once. 6. If you read T Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?
I think kids (and adults) are often hesitant to try things because they don’t want to look silly, or make a mistake. I hope that Steph Laberis’ ridiculous illustrations of animals failing at all their tasks can help readers realize that in order to figure out what you’re good at, you have to try as many things as possible. Some of them will be spectacular disasters and that is absolutely okay.