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  • Writer's pictureMary Boone

Six Questions with Janie Emaus

Janie Emaus believes when the world is falling apart, we’re just one laugh away from putting it together again. Her picture book, Latkes for Santa Claus was a finalist in the 2022 International Book Award. Easter Eggs & Matzo Balls is her second blended holiday picture book. She is also the author of the novel, The Time Traveling Matchmaker. Her essays, stories and articles have been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and websites. In 2016 she won an honorary mention in the Erma Bombeck Writing competition. But no award is more important than family. Visit Janie's website to learn more about her and her work.

1. Do you ever struggle to come up with your next project? Or do you have lots of ideas and find it a challenge to narrow down your ideas?

I don’t usually struggle with getting ideas, I struggle with finding the time to write and get all my ideas on paper before I forget them! I always come up with some ‘brilliant’ line while I’m walking and then when I get home I rush to my notebook to write it down. Of course, by then, it doesn’t always seem so wonderful! I’m currently working on three picture book ideas, editing a women’s fiction book and thinking about a nonfiction book that I really want to finish this year. I usually work on several ideas at once, and then finally one will take off and the rest have to wait their turn.

2. What three things bring you joy?

I love taking long walks with my dog. This is where most of my brainstorming begins.

Spending time with my family.

When my writing flows from a higher power than myself. This is one of the best feelings in the world.

And reading a good book. Okay, I know that’s four things. But unlike hitting delete when I know I’ve written something horrible, it was hard to cut one of these joyous events.


3. What one piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring kidlit authors?

Don’t ever stop believing in yourself and your stories. It took me 20 years to sell my first picture book, Latkes for Santa Claus. I did listen to agents and editors. And I rewrote the story many times. But I never gave up! Three of the most important words in writing are: Perseverance. Perseverance. Perseverance.

4. Where did you get the idea for Easter Eggs & Matzo Balls? What was your inspiration?

My debut blended holiday book, Latkes for Santa Claus, was based on my own experience. I was raised Jewish and my husband was raised Catholic. When our daughter was young, I wondered if she was confused about the celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah. So, like any good mother, I looked for a book that showed families like ours. When I couldn’t find anything, I did what any good writer would do, and wrote my own. Due to the success of that book, I realized how many culturally blended families exist and came up with the idea for a story about Passover and Easter.

5. What was the process or timeline for this book, from idea to publishing?

As I mentioned, I came up with idea for a Passover/Easter story after the success of my first book. I pitched the idea to my editor and then had to write the book! This story was a bit more complicated and it went through dozens of revisions. I honestly thought I was never going to get it right. Finally, after four months of revising, I got the contract on April 20, 2021.

Once Bryan Langdo, an amazing illustrator, began his illustrations, I was sent his drawings and was able to make suggestions along the way. My biggest concern was having a balance of Easter and Passover details throughout the book.

So, it was a little over two years from idea to publication date.

6. If you read this book to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?

First off, I’d like to leave with smile on their faces. And to realize how important laughter is in their life. I’d like them to realize the importance of family traditions and that not all families celebrate the same holidays or celebrate in the same way. And that celebrating together and sharing makes every holiday special.

If you're a traditionally published author or illustrator of a picture book or middle-grade book and you'd like to be considered for an upcoming SIX QUESTIONS feature, drop an email to mary@boonewrites.

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Feb 03, 2023

I always enjoy reading everything that Janie writes. Her essays and books are always very relatable.

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