Thursday, June 9, 2011

Interview with Jennifer Gladen

Jennifer Gladen is a children’s author, mother of three and teacher who lives and writes in Pennsylvania. She has written several children’s books, stories and articles, and started her own Catholic e-zine titled My Light Magazine. When not writing, teaching or mothering, she enjoys singing in her local parish choir on Sundays.

It's a pleasure to have you on my blog today, Jennifer!

Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?

Yes! Even as a child, I could always be found writing something. I wrote stories and poems for my teachers. I wrote in my journal every day. In short, it’s always been a part of my life. Growing up, I was a quiet little girl. Writing was my way of communicating with the world.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I sure did! It wasn’t until I took a few courses at the Institute of Children’s Literature that I realized this was something I really could do. I’m grateful that I chose to follow my dream. If I didn’t, I’d be missing out on the greatest career in the world!

Tell us about your children's books.

My first children’s book, A Star in the Night, was released September 30, 2010. It is a Christmas themed story about a boy, David, going home on Christmas Eve. David, accompanied by a shimmering star, encounters three experiences, which change his view of Christmas forever.

My second book, Teresa’s Shadow, was released October 2010. This is a fun bedtime story about Teresa’s furry visitor. Every child once in a while expresses a fear at bedtime. Some fear the dark. Some fear the possibilities of monsters. Some fear both! Teresa’s Shadow takes you through a little girl’s experience facing these fears.

How has being a teacher helped you with your writing career? 

Teaching helped me with my writing in many ways. It's the best research a writer could have. I interacted with children every day. I saw what problems they were dealing with, how they reacted to it, what was important to them. Also, I have worked as an after school leader at the Free Library of Philadelphia. There, I helped students with homework and designed a craft once a week. That has helped me get to know children of all age levels. Currently I work with infants.

My educational training helps me keep my characters real for fiction. I'm more in tune with what situations would apply to certain ages. I've learned how to "make learning fun," which I hope carries over in my nonfiction pieces.

How do you find time for your writing?

When I was home during the day I spent the time the kids were ni school doing my writing. I recently went back to work full time, so it’s a bit more challenging finding the time to write and to tend to the magazine (My Light Magazine). I find myself utilizing time after dinner and on weekends for writing.
However, I try not to waste any moments. Ideas sneak up on me when I'm walking and driving, so I started carrying around a mini notebook.

When my husband has off from work, he knows he has full supervision of the kids. These are my "power writing" days. I try to get as much done as possible because it's less likely I'll be interrupted.

What are you working on now?

My current project is a picture book about a little girl, Olivia, who needs a liver transplant and her brave journey to get it. While many children are wondering if they’ll learn to ride a bike, Olivia is wondering when that life-saving transplant will happen. We see the struggles and complex feelings in which she deals with daily.

This book was inspired by my own daughter who needed a liver transplant. When I looked for good books to read to her, I saw nothing which could help a child of her age cope with this situation. “There should be a book about this,” I complained to my husband. Voila—Olivia was born.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

My advice to aspiring writers is to stick with it. Be persistent in your dream. Don’t give up in the face of rejections. Just pick up your manuscripts, dust it off, revise (yes – for the umpteenth time) and send it out elsewhere. This is your dream and your goal. The only one who can assure your success is you.

Contact Jennifer:


Magdalena Ball said...

Jennifer, I like the idea of a "power writing day". Your new book sounds wonderful and very much needed. Thanks for sharing with us.

Mari said...

Love that you are writing to fill a void. I am sure it will be a blessing to many parents and kids.

kathy stemke said...

Thank you for your heartfelt books, Jennifer. I know God will use them to comfort and bless others.

Karen Cioffi said...

Jen, I'm sure being a teacher helps tremendously with writing for children. I know babysitting my two young grandchildren brings inspiration and tidbits of what children do and say.

And, perseverance is essential to a writer. You never know what's around the corner.

Best wishes for success with your books!

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

Donna M. McDine said...

Terrific interview. I am in awe you sing, how I wish I had that talent.

Donna M. McDine said...

Terrific storyline of your current WIP. Best wishes, Donna