#Author and educator JoAnn Vergona Krapp served as an elementary school teacher on Long Island for many years before changing career paths to become a School Library Media Specialist. JoAnn has always been interested in writing, and she published many articles about children’s literature programs and similar topics that were presented in respected periodicals such as School Library Media Activities Monthly, Early Years, School Library Journal and Library Talk.

Inspiration

JoAnn has also published a number of children’s picture books and/or songs including “Lollipop Mountain,” “Have A Happy” and “My Dinosaur Loves Circuses.” She has also penned chapter books for slightly older children titled “Missing Treasure Means Trouble” and “Trouble Times Three.”

JoAnn lives on Long Island where she is a member of the Long Island Children's and Writers, an organization that enables her to visit schools, speak to students, and sells her books.

Advertisements
Advertisements

She has also had the opportunity to teach writing workshops for children.

Aside from being a writer, JoAnn is also a visual artist who had won ribbons and certificates for her watercolor paintings and pencil sketches. JoAnn is also an avid reader of mystery novels and historical fiction, and she considers gardening to be both a hobby and passion.

She recently discussed her life, work, and goals for the future in her first exclusive interview.

Interview

Blasting News (BN): What prompted you to get into the arts and do you enjoy writing or painting most?

JoAnn Krapp (JK): I have always loved to write and draw. As a child, I made up stories and poems, and I would draw fashions for paper dolls. As an adult, I turned to writing journal articles and decided to try my hand at children’s fiction.

Advertisements

When I retired, I joined an art class and studied watercolors; now I divide my time between painting and writing. I cannot say that I favor either art form, for different moods dictate what I will do next. I paint at the art studio once a week and I write at home often for hours at a time.

BN: You have a degree in library science so do you think that has helped you in your career?

JK: Definitely. As a children’s librarian, I have had the opportunity to attend dozens of literature conferences and workshops, meet established authors, learn the needs of publishers, and use this knowledge and experience to hone my writing craft.

BN: What are your children’s books about and how did you find publishers for them?

JK: As I said before, what I write is often dictated by what I feel like writing. My first two books were original holiday stories, my second was humorous poems about dinosaurs, and my last two were adventures set on Fire Island.

I wrote the holiday stories because, when I was looking for a short story for Groundhog Day, I could not find one.

Advertisements

So, I told myself, “when not on the shelf, write it yourself.” And I did. I titled them: “Have A Happy” and “Holiday Time.” I laughed my way through the dinosaur #Book, “My Dinosaur Loves Circuses,” which I illustrated myself. The adventure books were an outgrowth of my walks along the Fire Island Seashore.

“Missing Treasure Means Trouble” finds three youngsters looking for Captain Kidd’s buried treasure at the #Fire Island Lighthouse. “Trouble Times Three” finds the same characters vacationing at Ocean Beach where they search for the thief that stole a valuable gold medal from WW II from the Historical Society.

I am currently working on the third Fire Island book called “Totally Trouble.” Children’s publishers are listed in the Children’s Writers Market, a bible for children’s authors. I have self-published the Fire Island adventures under JVKArts. Except for the dinosaur poems, which are for any age, my books are targeted to grades 3-5.

BN: Out of all your artwork, do you have any favorite pieces, and, if so, which ones?

JK: I paint from photos, newspaper clippings, still life, vacation scenes…whatever “speaks to me” at the moment. I make prints from many of my watercolors because I am very possessive of my originals. People tend to purchase the framed prints because they are less costly than the originals and are often indistinguishable from the originals. I do have a favorite piece that was part of the Heckscher Museum Biennial Exhibit several years ago.

It is a large watercolor of a man crossing one of the many small bridges over the canal in Venice, Italy. I took my first trip to Italy in 1999 and fell in love with Venice. I have since learned to speak the language and returned to Italy five times, never tiring of it. That painting sits on an easel in my living room and is not for sale.

BN: How have you promoted/raised awareness of your artwork and books?

JK: I have art shows in various libraries, sometimes as a single artist and sometimes sharing with a colleague. Each year, I participate in the Fire Island Lighthouse Art Show, the Babylon Art show, the Women’s Club Cultural Arts Exhibit, the Farmingdale Art in the Park Event, and other events that showcase paintings, many of which have earned me award ribbons and certificates.

As for books, I am a member of the Long Island Writers and Illustrators and, as such, I arrange for schools to host Author/Illustrator Events. At these events, I talk to students about writing and sell books. I attend book fairs across the island, and I book programs and hold book readings at local libraries.

BN: How do you think organizations like libraries and bookstores can help writers and artists showcase their work?

JK: In this age of ever-increasing technology, writers and artists need all the help they can get. Adults and children no longer “curl up with a good book,” but rather entertain themselves on their iPhones. Yes, Kindles and e-Readers provide reading materials, but they lack the feeling of intimacy that an author can provide when he/she does a reading or a presentation.

Libraries and bookstores can provide the venues for authors to take the stage and involve the audience. There are so few independent bookstores to take up this task; hopefully more will rise up. Libraries have always been willing to showcase authors, but they lean more towards authors of adult reading.

Perhaps a family night, targeting parents and children with appropriate books, might work. Libraries do showcase art; generally, each month a different artist applies to hang his/her work in a special room set aside as a gallery. Some libraries schedule art lessons as part of their monthly program offerings. Bookstores can take artwork on consignment, thus integrating the two art forms; bookstores can schedule art workshops and celebrate the finished works with a wine and cheese party, or even an art auction.

BN: What are a few forthcoming projects or events for you; for instance, do you have any other books or story ideas in the pipeline?

JK: I have three paintings that are ready to go on display at Fire Island and Babylon. I am busy finishing a large watercolor on the African savannah with two giraffes in the foreground; I love giraffes! As for books, I have several schools to visit before the school year ends, one of which is on Ocean Beach, the setting of “Trouble Times Three.” My illustrator and I will be taking the ferry there at the end of the month.

I will be at Glen Head later this month speaking to grade 5 about blending fact and fiction. I plan on spending the summer working on the last of the Fire Island adventure series. I have a children’s biography circulating the publishers, going on its third year of trying to find an editor willing to take on “A Daring Rescue” which is a short children’s biography for grades 3-5 of Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, the wife of President James Monroe, who risked her own life to help save Lafayette’s wife from the guillotine during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution.