Joanna’s Journey

Spread the love

Stories enchant me, and the people behind those stories. I like nothing better than sitting  with old or new friends, eating a pizza in Firenze or goat stew from a communal pot in Namibia, and listening to their stories. If you love people, you love stories! Words and language(s) have captivated me since learning to read… I remember as a very young child learning the word penultimate (watching Apollo 11 in 1969) and immediately wanting to incorporate it into a story. I love how the same word in a different language can carry a different nuance, why some things just sound better in say Italian or Dutch to me.

The stories I read as a child, like SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS and RING OF BRIGHT WATER drew me into a world of adventure and animals in which I was the hero and survived. On graduating from university with degrees in anthropology and education, I began to pursue what at the time I felt was my permanent destiny, humanitarian work in developing nations. For years I thought  that I would eventually form my escapades across the continents into some novels à la Theroux, so I surprised myself when the notion to write picture books began to ferment in my thoughts, as school librarian a few years ago in an international school in Southern France. I am at present splitting my writing between picture books and contemporary YA, working on my craft and learning from peers and professionals. I want to enjoy every moment of this journey and am discovering that the fiction I am creating is taking me on a path of unexpected self discovery. I published my first picture book, WINTER GAMES, on May 7,  2012, with the eBook platform, uTales.

I have worked on five continents – from development projects and training to language teaching and librarianship. My interests are as varied as my work experience, but include: a passion for the natural world, a fascination with other cultures and languages and an appreciation of all forms of storytelling (written/theatre/music/art/oral). My desire is to weave stories for children that will celebrate the diversity of life across the globe and the wonder of the natural and creative world in which we live! As of the summer of 2013, I moved after 13 fabulous years with quirky cats and friends in Nice to complete my MFA in Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook University, New York. After five years as IB librarian at the French/American School of New York, 2020 saw me crossing the country by car to start a new job at the French American International School of San Francisco. 

I am a member of SCBWI and was a participant in SCBWI Nevada’s 2012 Mentor Program. 

Ten things I like: friendship, laughter, mountain hikes, motorbikes, scrabble, sailing, animals, simplicity, silence.

Please join the journey.


Contact Email:

Read more in this interview.


17 Responses to Joanna’s Journey

  1. I think we have A LOT in common, Joanna! I, too, have an appreciation for all forms of storytelling. I sponsored a storytelling club for third, fourth, and fifth grade students from 2007-2011. Storytellers like Tim Tingle have visited our school, and many of our club members have participated in the annual Tejas Storytelling Festival. Storytelling is such a beautiful art form, and the children who participate get so much out of it. We don’t have a club this year-budget cuts, rescheduling, etc. 🙁 But I still incorporate storytelling into my library curriculum.

  2. Joanna says:

    Kelly, thanks for your comment. I think we do indeed! and look forward to following along your library/writer’s blog 🙂 Shame about the budget cuts :(. I am helping our librarian on some fundraising to upgrade our reading program and hoping to get back into doing some story times once a week from January.

  3. Hi Joanna,

    You have a really nice blog, I’m glad I finally had a chance to check it out. I’m still working on getting mine to have all of its ducks lined up. Thanks again for your supportive comments from a few weeks ago.


  4. Joanna says:

    Sabrina, thank you for your kind words. I shall be following you, and the ducks, as you get your blog up and running!

  5. Sarah Elliott says:

    Joanna, I have just stumbled upon your website/blog. How exciting! Maybe you remember me and Jonathan from Monaco.

    Anyway, totally agree with your recommendation of “Guess How Much I Love You”, such a beautiful story, we have it (for the girls 😉 ) and are big fans.

    Very interested to hear more about your own story writing, especially your picture book. Our 2 are 4 and 3 now and love all stories, and we enjoy sharing them together.

    • Joanna says:

      I absolutely remember you and Jonathan. Wow, three children now, how wonderful. I am wondering if you are still in Norway? Well, as soon as I start getting contracts and am nearer publication, you can be sure I will be hollering loud! Thanks for your lovely comment!

  6. Gail Goetz says:

    Fun blog! Love the title, the heading picture, and knowing about you and your life. You are an adventure girl!

  7. Joanna says:

    Gail, thank you. I appreciate the encouraging contact we have very much.

  8. Languages are such a pleasure to unfold. I’ve always wanted to get a book on etymology. My mother was really great about breaking down words by knowing their roots.
    I so enjoy your writing, your love for words & story telling, Joanna! There is a peace in your writing which is palpable.

  9. Joanna says:

    Jeanine, what warm words of encouragement. Thank you, my friend. While I have always preferred learning living languages, I am glad of my latin studies now, too! I ended up studying anthropology at university, but it was very nearly linguistics.

  10. Maggie Lyons says:

    How I envy you living in the South of France. I’m going to visit Languedoc-Roussillon in September. Can’t wait! Does the area inspire your writing?

    • Joanna says:

      Hi Maggie, while I love living here on the Côte d’Azur, I would say my travels/work in Asia and Africa probably inspire my writing more than Europe at the moment, though I guess I really do need to write a story set locally some day! I have just read your bio and it seems you too have already lived multiple lives! Virginia sounds like a pretty cool place to settle.

  11. Maggie Lyons says:

    I have indeed lived multiple lives! Virginia’s an interesting state, but the South of France is much more exciting to me.

  12. Pingback: And the winner is…Awards and a Giveaway « Positive Parental Participation

  13. Redpeffer says:

    Lovely to meet you. Best wishes on your book adventures. I’m embarking on a similar adventure so look forward to following you. Love your blog title too!

  14. Emma Pinsent says:

    Hi Jo
    I just stumbled across your blog and amazed to find you here! We were house mates in uni days a good few years back. I have sometimes wondered how you are and what you are doing! Since leaving uni I have lived in Mongolia for 15 years and now in the Highlands of Scotland. I am married with theee adult children. Do you ever visit St Antonine de Noble- my sister runs a second hand charity Enhlish bookshop there- you might want to pop in!

    • Joanna says:

      Emma, how truly lovely to hear from you. And thank you for the Sainte Antoine bookshop recommendation. The USA, where I am now is the third continent I have lived on and 8th country. Last summer I was back in the UK for a visit and stayed with Andrew and Jane Graystone and it was wonderful to see them again. Maybe our paths will cross again one day. I would love to hear about Mongolia!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.