Janet Tashjian

Janet Tashjian is a middle-grade and young adult novelist who’s been writing books for children for fifteen years.  Her first novel 'Tru Confessions' was made into a critically acclaimed Disney TV movie starring Clara Bryant and Shia LaBeouf.  'The Gospel According to Larry' series is a cult favorite and 'Fault Line' is taught in many middle and high schools.  Her novels 'My Life As a Book,' 'My Life As a Stuntboy,' and 'My Life As a Cartoonist' are all illustrated by her teenage son, Jake.  Their collaboration continues with a new series, 'Einstein the Class Hamster.'

 

Janet has been doing school visits for fifteen years; you can email her at spatulaproductions@mac.com for details.

 

You can follow her on Twitter and like her books on Facebook, and check out her YouTube Channel.


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Media

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Janet and Jake Tashjian discuss their new series.

Janet and Jake talk about their new series, Einstein the Class Hamster, chock full of fun facts!

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MY LIFE AS A CARTOONIST by Janet Tashjian; cartoons by Jake Tashjian

MY LIFE AS A CARTOONIST by Janet Tashjian; cartoons by Jake Tashjian

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Book Trailer

Check out the trailer for Janet Tashjian's newest YA book!

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Janet and Jake Tashjian on My Life as a Book

Watch author Janet Tashjian talk to her son (and illustrator) Jake Tashjian about their newest collaboration, MY LIFE AS A BOOK. Available now!

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Author on the Web

 

Latest on Facebook

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Q & A

You’ve written both middle grade and young adult novels. How is the writing experience different for these age groups? 

The writing experience isn't that different for me.  The process of creating interesting characters, developing a story, and revising is pretty much the same.  It's more a question of where i want to hang out in my mind for the next several months: with twelve or seventeen year olds. Because Larry is older, there's more freedom in terms of things he can do but the writing process is the same. 

Josh’s feelings for Beth and Janine often motivate him to take action. If it weren’t for them, would Josh have started an anti-consumerist website, ran for president, and joined Gus’s group? In other words, what exactly motivates Josh?

Josh doesn't like to think about how much of his motivation is driven by girls.  It's the part of himself he's pretty embarrassed about.  When he was younger he had such a difficult time with girls and now  he has two great young women in his life.  He doesn't quite know how to handle it.  Even without Beth and Janine, he'd be an activist; it's just a matter of how much.  The other woman who's woven into Josh's motivation is his mother.  Even though she's been dead for years, she factors heavily into the decisions he makes.

How do Thoreau’s teachings guide Josh through a difficult period in his life? How does being at Walden pond invigorate Josh? Briefly discuss your own thoughts on Thoreau.
Walden Pond is one of my sacred places; I go there all the time.  Every season gives you something different to take away.  It really is a magical place.  It's pure chance how Thoreau ended up being integral to the books. In the first draft of  The Gospel According to Larry, Josh quoted Kafka to me in the parking lot, but as I revised, I thought the Thoreau quote was more appropriate.  Once Thoreau got into the book, his words spread through the pages until he became an organic piece of the story. His words are very comforting to Josh who feels barraged by our consumerist culture.  That's one of the great things about books - a reader can find a literary soulmate whose words resonate.  As a reader myself, i look for those writers all the time.  Josh is very lucky to have found Thoreau; lots of kids are.  It was exciting to learn from educators that 'Larry" is often taught with 'Walden' at schools.  Walden may be a challenging text to read, but Thoreau's message is just as important today.  Simplify, simplify.

What is the most important lesson Josh learns from his experience studying with Gus? What does this say about life in general?

Every reader takes his own message away, but for me, Josh learns that all he really can be is himself -- as flawed as he is.  A person can spend so much of their life trying to discover his or her 'real' self  when it's who you are to begin with.  Josh discovers he's imperfect, he always will be, but that doesn't mean he can't affect positve change today. I think it's something that applies to all of us.  I also love that this big 'guru' is just a regular guy.  Josh learns everyone on his path can be a teacher. 

Discuss the whole concept of skewing or playing with Josh’s reality that you put into play in this book.
All the Larry books are about bending reality.  As a novelist, I play with reality all day, but with the Larry books I go a bit further, surfing the line between fiction and non-fiction even to the point where my main character doesn't know what's real.  I love books that do that; as a reader.  I had no idea who was pulling the strings behind Josh's reality until i wrote the climactic scene.  Even i was surprised, which for me as a writer, is the biggest thrill there is.

Josh says that it’s difficult for him to let people see the ‘real’ Josh. In your opinion, who is the real Josh? Who is Larry? Are they one and the same?
After three books, Josh and Larry are pretty interwoven in my mind; I think about them interchangeably.  What’s funny is how I think of them as real. When my husband goes to the town dump and comes back with more stuff than he brought, I just look at him and say, "That is so not Larry."  Even i don't know what's real with Larry anymore - I never go to Bloomingdales but found myself in the makeup department there last month and suddenly stopped to listen to the people walking by and talking - I was living inside one of my books!
What are some of your favorite comments from fans about the Larry books?

I get letters and emails every week from people who want to talk about Larry.  The question that's asked most often, of course, is whether Larry is real.  I usually answer that he is to me.  But the letters I love are from kids who've gotten politically active, are working on candidate campaigns or grassroot issues, have gotten soda companies out of their school, have been turned on to Thoreau, or who have whittled down their possessions.  Larry speaks to a lot of kids which is great. I also get lots of opinions about Larry's love life. I never would've thought to create Janine if so many students weren't so interested in Larry and Beth.

This is your third book about “Larry.” What do you hope readers will take from this latest installment? What’s next?

I want readers to have fun when they're reading Larry and the Meaning of Life.  Kids have to do so much reading for school, I want them to just kick back and have a good time.  If they end up thinking about their own lives, that's cool too.  I have another Larry in my head I can't wait to write - if you think i tortured the poor guy this time around, just wait!  I sit on my couch and literally laugh out loud when i write these books - it's not a bad way to spend the day. 
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books
by the author

The Gospel According to Larry

Janet Tashjian
Square Fish

After creating a controversial and hugely popular website, teenager Josh Swensen becomes trapped inside his brilliant creation and must find a way to remain...


Available In:

Book eBook
Available 7/15/2014
Vote for Larry

Janet Tashjian
Square Fish

Larry is not your parents’ politician, that’s for sure.


Available In:

Book eBook
Available 7/15/2014
My Life as a Joke

Janet Tashjian; illustrated by Jake Tashjian
Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books

Derek Fallon discovers all the angst that comes with being twelve—he just wants to feel grown up, but life gets in the way with a series of mishaps that make...


Available In:

eBook
Einstein the Class Hamster

Janet Tashjian; Cartoons by Jake Tashjian
Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books

Einstein the class hamster is from a long line of class hamsters. He knows lots of cool facts about science, art, and history—maybe even more than their sleepy...


Available In:

My Life as a Cartoonist

Janet Tashjian; Cartoons by Jake Tashjian
Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books

There’s a new kid in Derek Fallon’s class. His name is Umberto and he uses a wheelchair. Derek’s family is still fostering Frank the monkey, and Derek thinks...


Available In:

eBook
For What It's Worth

Janet Tashjian
Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books

The year is 1971 and the place is Laurel Canyon, California. Quinn, a fourteen-year-old music “encyclopedia,” writes a music column—called "For What It's...


Available In:

Book eBook
Marty Frye, Private Eye

Janet Tashjian; illustrations by Laurie Keller
Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks

Marty Frye is not your ordinary private eye. Marty Frye is "the poet detective"--he solves petty crimes by turning rhymes. In the course of a busy day, Marty...


Available In:

Book
My Life as a Stuntboy

Janet Tashjian; illustrations by Jake Tashjian
Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books

Derek Fallon gets the opportunity of a lifetime—to be a stunt boy in a major movie featuring a pretty teen starlet. After accepting the job he learns that he...


Available In:

eBook
My Life as a Book

Janet Tashjian; Illustrated by Jake Tashjian
Square Fish

Derek Fallon has trouble sitting still and reading. But creating cartoons of his vocabulary words comes easy. If only life were as simple!...


Available In:

Book eBook
Larry and the Meaning of Life

Janet Tashjian
Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks

Josh Swensen (otherwise known as Larry) can’t seem to get off the couch. His usual overactive imagination and save-the-world mindset have all but vanished, and...


Available In:

Book eBook
Multiple Choice

Janet Tashjian
Square Fish

With a distinctive voice full of both humor and realism and a mastery of detail, Janet Tashjian reveals marked insight into the dark corners of a troubled...


Available In:

Book eBook
Tru Confessions

Janet Tashjian
Square Fish

Enough about you. Let’s talk about me.


Available In:

Book eBook
Fault Line

Janet Tashjian
Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks

A hard-hitting novel that breaks open the gritty world of teen relationship abuse Seventeen-year-old Becky Martin dreams of being a stand-up comic. She also...


Available In:

Book eBook
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