Q&A with Lori Haskins Houran

Warts and All: A Book of Unconditional Love celebrates love in all shapes and sizes! Love isn’t just for the cute, the sweet, and the cuddly. Whether you’re awkward as a baby ostrich, prickly as a tiny hedgehog, or drool like a puppy pug, someone loves you no matter what! This new story from the team that created Next To You features an irresistible array of adorably stinky, grouchy, burpy, and warty animals to drive the point home.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with author Lori Haskins Houran to chat about a parent’s love, second books, and Warts and All.

Q: What was the inspiration for your title?

A: My younger son, Michael, will be appalled that I’m sharing this, but a few years ago he got a big, gnarly patch of warts on his elbow. I assured him that I loved him, warts and all, and as I did, I chuckled to myself at using the expression so literally. Then I thought—Hey, that would make a good book title! I could picture a homely little toad on the cover. And I knew just what the book would be about: the unconditional love that parents have for our children. We really do love them no matter what. Even if they get warts and cradle cap and funky rashes. Even if they keep us up all night and pee straight into our faces when we’re changing their diapers. (That last one was my older son, Jameson. Now both kids get to be embarrassed!)

Q: How was the process of writing this book different than writing Next to You?

A: Next to You was all about baby animals at their most adorable and irresistible. It was fun thinking up the cutest possible critters to include. This book celebrates baby animals at their most awkward, and I have to say, it was even more fun coming up with clumsy, quirky candidates!


Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?

A: Not necessarily. If I have an idea percolating, I’ll think about it on and off all day. Those are the days that I burn the toast in the morning and let the pasta boil over at night! I do most of the actual writing while my kids are at school. I tell myself that I’ll write more after they go to bed, but it rarely happens, because I end up falling asleep, too!

Q: What are the hardest and easiest parts of writing a book?

A: I have a tough time with first drafts. It’s hard not to lose faith in my ideas as I’m trying to get them down on paper. Each time I hit a point where I think, “This is a terrible idea. And it’s probably been done a million times before!” If I push through that stage and get the basic story structure in place, then I can relax. I enjoy revising. It’s a treat to play with words.


Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A: As a kid, I was the reading equivalent of a hungry omnivore. I read all the time, and I read everything. Fiction. Nonfiction. The back of the cereal box. (Seriously. I loved to read while I ate, and if I was out of books, I’d resort to perusing the packages on the table.) Some of my favorites were Frog and Toad Together, The Trumpet of the Swan, Harriet the Spy, Eight Cousins, and the Trixie Belden mysteries. I was also obsessed with a musty old biographical series called The Childhood of Famous Americans. I’m still open to lots of different genres. My top fiction pick of the past few years is Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, and for nonfiction, I don’t think you can beat Erik Larson.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: I have a couple of picture books in the works, and an easy-to-read biography of Thomas Edison. My sons, who are now in middle school, have been encouraging me to try middle-grade fiction. I just might give it a whirl!


Thanks so much, Lori! Find out more about Warts and All on our website and both of Lori’s adorable titles in this video.

Q&A with Lori Haskins Houran