|Lunch with an Author: Janet Tashjian|
by Linda Redding
Students 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.
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.
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.
The new website came about because
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
Tru ConfessionsVote for Larry
Linda Redding, Library Teacher, Silver Lake Regional High School
|Last Updated ( Friday, 01 February 2008 )|