Friday, July 3, 2020

2020 Interview: Anne Slanina

Anne Maro Slanina, Ph.D.  I write children’s books. It was a natural extension of my career as an educator. I began my career as a Kindergarten teacher where I learned just how literal young children can be! I am certified to teach K-8, hold an A.A.S. in Child Care Technology and a B.S. in Elementary Education with a specialization in Early Childhood from YSU.  I then went on to get a Masters degree in Reading Education from YSU and am certified K-12. I taught remedial reading for many years in various K-12 schools in the Youngstown area. When I realized how bright many of the children in my remedial reading programs were, I was inspired to conduct research in gifted children with reading difficulties and ended up continuing my graduate work leading to certification in gifted child education and a Ph.D. from Kent State University. I taught at YSU, Notre Dame College of Ohio and recently retired from Slippery Rock University. All of these experiences, as well as those with my own two children, influenced the evolution of the character of Annie Mouse in my books.  My two sons are adults, married with lovely wives who have given me four beautiful grandchildren. Their antics are giving me many more ideas for more Annie Mouse adventures!

Do you have any hobbies?

Uncommon instruments: I play both mountain and hammered dulcimers and Native American Flute.  I also own a bowed psaltery and hope to learn to play it in my retirement. 

What is your favorite vacation spot?

It’s not a single spot. I travel Route 66 yearly. Most years I go from Illinois to California. But if I can’t do the entire Route, I always do some of it.  

If you were given a ticket to anywhere and spending money to indulge, where would you go?

Paris; as long as the fantasy also involved getting there without getting on a plane. I hate to fly.

Do you have pets?

Not currently. I travel too much.

What is your favorite color and what do you love about it?

Blue.  It is calming and peaceful. I even put blue glass bottles in my windows so the sunlight will reflect on the blue glass and spread the blue throughout the rooms.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved the Nancy Drew series.

What is one thing about yourself you’d like to change or are trying to work on?

My weight. I’d like to lose weight but I like my sweets so much, I lack the willpower to stop buying the goodies! Chocolate is my downfall!

What music genre/singer/band is your go-to for a bad day? For working? 

I love all music and it just depends on the mood I am in at the time. 

Do you re-read books? If so, is there one in particular?

I typically don’t, but will buy a physical copy of a book if I enjoyed listening to the audio book during my travels so that I could flip to different sections and see the actual print in sections I’d like to revisit.

Are you an introvert, extravert, or ambivert?

I was painfully shy as a child and always considered myself to be an introvert.  After years of teaching and professional presentations before beginning my author career, I learned to “put myself out there” and feel as though I have morphed into an ambivert.

Does pineapple go on pizza?


How many places have you lived?

I’m a native of Youngstown, Ohio and moved to western PA to be closer to Slippery Rock University, where I was a professor from 1998 until my retirement in August 2019.

What was your first job?

A clerk/typist for the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles, which was located inside a gas station. During slow times, I would also pump gas for customers since this was long before customers pumped their own gas. 

What is your favorite down time activity?

I really haven’t experienced too much downtime lately! 

If you could live inside a movie, which would you choose and which character would you be?

Gone with the Wind.  Scarlett – but I’d recognize Rhett’s love before it was too late.

What is one thing you’ve learned through experience that you’d love to pass along to others?

If you are shy, don’t let it limit you. Put yourself out there in small steps until you gain confidence. Find that one single person who will be your cheerleader. I will forever be grateful to the late Dr. Margaret Braden from YSU for being that person for me. 

What books, other than your own, would you highly recommend?

Anything that broadens your world. Go beyond what you think you’re interested in to learn something new.  I love young adult literature and historical fiction, in which you learn about various cultures. It builds understanding and empathy. Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor come to mind.

On to writing: what inspired you to start creating stories/non-fiction? How long ago?

During my professional conference presentations regarding child development and social-emotional growth, I would share stories from my actual teaching experiences to illustrate children’s perceptions that adults would often view as “misbehaviors” but are actually normal child development.  I was inspired to turn some of those stories into my first book, Annie Mouse Meets her Guardian Angel, in a dream in 2002. I finally released the book in 2004. 

How do you choose your settings (fiction) or topics (non-fiction)?

The themes of Annie’s adventures are all taken from issues that pertain to young children. The Route 66 travel series is based on my actual travels and I share the travel through the eyes of a child.

Can you tell us a bit about your path to publication?

When I began, I intended my sales outlet to be through presentations, so immediately went to self-publishing. 

Finally, please tell us about your books and add your website so we can find you:

The Adventures of Annie Mouse include the Guardian Angel series: 
*Annie Mouse Meets her Guardian Angel, in which Annie’s mother is a “yeller” and Annie mistakenly believes when Mommy yells at her it means her Mommy doesn’t love her. 
*Baby Brother Goes to the Hospital, where Annie hears that her brother has to go to the hospital “until he is better” and mistakenly believes that Baby Brother is sent away because he is “bad” because he cries too much. 
*Annie Mouse Meets a New Friend, in which Annie’s new friend is different from all the other kids at school and Annie has to learn to be a true friend and stand up to the bullies at school. 
*Where the Rainbow Touches Ground in which Annie takes the story of the leprechauns guarding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow literally and gets lost trying to find it. When Daddy finds her, she learns that love is the true pot of gold.

Annie’s Route 66 Adventures include:
*Annie Mouse’s Route 66 Adventure: A Photo Journal where Annie shares actual photographs of Route 66 through the eight states that make up Route 66. Children learn historical facts and meet the people and places along the Route. 
*Annie Mouse’s Second Route 66 Photo Journal: The Journey East follows the Route from California to Illinois and includes many more photographs and facts than the first photo journal.
*Annie Mouse’s Route 66 Family Vacation is a chapter book that provides much more information than is shared in the photo journals for children who are readers. It is a great companion book to the photo journals.

Finally, Annie Mouse’s Adventures: The Coloring Book actually tells a story by linking the Guardian Angel series and the Route 66 travel series sharing Annie’s story about how the Mouse Family decided to travel Route 66. 

Thanks so much, Anne! Please feel free to leave questions here in the comments or find her through her website.

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