3 Question Interview - JEN FIER JASINSKI
I'm delighted to feature Jen Fier Jasinski on the blog today. Jen's beautiful picture book, MY PIANO, illustrated by Anita Bagdi, debuts with Gnome Road Publishing on September 19, 2023! Jen discusses her inspiration (the grand piano in her living room!), and shares about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection. Welcome, Jen!
STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories and share the process about your latest projects.
Thank you for having me on your blog, Melissa!
I find inspiration for stories everywhere. Current events. Reading picture books. Playing with children. Reading more picture books. School calendars. And reading even more picture books.
If something makes me want to learn more or tell all my friends (especially those friends 8 years and younger!) or—best of all—makes me belly laugh, it has story potential. I write it down. If I can envision a complete story and compare it to a title I’ve already read (Did I mention the value of reading many picture books?), I’ll write down the idea and start typing a (generally lousy) first draft!
In the case of my debut picture book, the story inspiration sat right in front of me, filling our entire living room, for years.
My husband is a pianist, composer, and piano teacher. Our grand piano is 704 pounds, 6’1” long, and so loud we usually keep the lid closed so as not to disturb neighbors. Despite all that, I never saw its story potential until I witnessed our piano technician at work. She pulled out the keyboard, exposing the hammers and dampers, and I said “Wow!” out loud. I wanted to know more. I wanted to tell others. I had a picture book idea.
MY PIANO explores the workings of a grand piano through the eyes of a young musician as she prepares for and performs her first recital. Thanks to Sandra Sutter at Gnome Road Publishing and Anita Bagdi’s magical illustrations, it’s more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.
CREATIVITY- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
Outside of writing, I don’t have any traditional creative pursuits. I don’t paint. I don’t act. I cook out of necessity. I enjoy singing and dancing but prefer to do so in a crowd. And despite my debut picture book being about the anatomy of a grand piano, I don’t play a musical instrument.
I do, however, infuse creativity into my daily life. I have for as long as I can remember, because I’ve always spent my time around kids. First as a babysitter and camp counselor, later as a teacher, and now as a mother, I use creativity, imagination, and play whenever possible to increase engagement, connection, and cooperation. So, when it comes to educating and informing, I do paint. I also act, often with props and silly voices. I fully embrace a thematic cooking recipe and I’ll even sing and dance solo… but will grab a partner if I can.
CONNECTION- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
To connect to young readers I try to consider their perspective. Life looks different when you’re a few feet shorter and making way fewer decisions!
When writing a story, I ask myself, “What do kids NOT know about this subject yet? What DO they know that they’d burst to tell you six times? What words would they use to explain it?” This is especially important with informational fiction work, as it helps me weed out which facts will not resonate with readers.
I’m also excited to connect with young readers during my first bookstore and school visits!
I feel incredibly lucky to be connected to the KidLit community through groups like the 12x12 Challenge, Inked Voices, and SCBWI. I have phenomenal critique partners and have linked up with other wonderful creators through PBChat, a myriad of writing craft classes, and the ever-encouraging KidLit social media community. The publishing industry is a roller coaster and I’m grateful to have so many supportive creatives by my side!
Jen Fier Jasinski is the author of MY PIANO (Gnome Road Publishing, 2023). She grew up outside of Washington, D.C. and spent most of her childhood exploring creeks and reading books. Jen taught special education for more than ten years, where her favorite part of the school day was always Story Time. She enjoys spending time with her spouse and kids, reading, and playing outside. Jen's favorite days are when she gets to do all three. Her extra favorite days include cake.
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