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Lunch with an Author: Janet Tashjian PDF Print E-mail

by Linda Redding

Janet TashjianStudents and staff at Silver Lake Regional High School read The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian, as part of the "One School, One Book" summer reading program.  During the first week of school, small discussion groups were formed to share thoughts on the book.  Teachers planned classroom activities based on the book and many students participated in a school-wide essay contest.  The big event was a visit by Janet Tashjian.

Prior to being a successful author you had other careers. Who or what inspired you to become an author?

When people say "a book changed my life" it sounds like a cliché, but that's what happened to me.  I had a fifteen year career in sales when I read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.  After the last chapter, I closed the book and told my husband I was quitting my job to become a writer.  That's how powerful the book was for me.  I quit my job the next day, bought a stack of notebooks, a box of pens, and began writing.  After filling a mountain of notebooks with stories, I knew I needed to work on craft, so I applied to Emerson College's MFA program.  I took Jack Gantos' ckass, "Novel Writing for Children" and wrote the first draft of Tru Confessions in his class.

What is a typical day of work like for you?

I get my son off to school, then sit at my desk and work until the second he comes home! I don't have much of an outside life on work days. I pretty much go from one writing project to the next.  I write many of my books in longhand so there's a lot of tedious inputting time too. And, of course, 90% of the job is rewriting, so that's really where most of my time is spent. I usually try to sneak in some time in the woods with my dog as a reward for a good day's work. When my son's home, it's all him.

presentation at Silver Lake RegionalHigh SchoolYour presentation at Silver Lake was well received by students and staff.  Tell us about the presentations you offer.

I love doing school visits; for someone who spends most of her time in a room by herself making up stories, it's a great connection with the real world. I don't play any sports, so giving large presentations is a real workout for me; I expend a lot of energy. It's so exciting to hear how the books have affected kids - whether it's anti-consumerism, special needs, dating violence - they always have a lot of questions.  Plus, I'm such a writing cheerleader - it's such an important basic skill -- that I could talk about that all day.  In school, most of the students' time is spent writing for assignments; one of the reasons I do school visits is to remind them how much FUN writing can be. 

You have a newly-designed website that is great! What can visitors to your website expect to find?

The new website came about because
a) I got a new Macbook with all these amazing new capabilities and
b) me trying to keep up with my fictional characters! I felt like Larry and Trudy in particular were more web-savvy than I, so I spent several months updating the site to their standards.
c) Since several of my books are used in the classroom, I wanted to put in lots of teacher resources and information on writing workshops, presentations etc.  There are readers' guides to all the books, a blog, and even a video podcast where I give kids writing assignments online.  I also set up Myspace and Facebook pages, but it's hard because all this fun cyber stuff takes up writing time.  I'm still trying to learn how to manage it.

Can you tell us about what you are up to now?

I just handed in the third "Larry" which my editor LOVED - thank God.  So I'm copyediting that as we speak. Plus I just started a middle reader for reluctant readers which I'm having a blast with.  That's pretty much the defining point for me - if I have fun writing the book, then it's usually a book kids will have fun reading.  My son and his friends love books but they all have a difficult time with reading.  My next few books are aimed at them.

For more information about Janet Tashjian, please visit http://www.janettashjian.com

Books by Janet Tashjian:

Faultline

The Gospel According to Larry

Larry and the Meaning of Life  (Fall 2008)

Marty Frye

Multiple Choice

Tru Confessions

Vote for Larry

 

Linda Redding, Library Teacher, Silver Lake Regional High School

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Last Updated ( Friday, 01 February 2008 )
 

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