Sharon Jennings - Author

Sharon Jennings grew up in Toronto writing, directing and starring in plays for the backyard. She went to university and got a master's degree in English so that she could spend many years doing not much more than reading books. Then she found work as an editor where she could spend lots of time reading other people's stories. Sharon didn't figure out that she wanted to write her own stories until she had a child. After her first book was published (Jeremiah and Mrs. Ming), Sharon had a couple more kids and published a lot more books. Mostly, her three children were her inspiration for all of her writing, so when they grew up, Sharon was very happy when one of them brought home a puppy. The “puppy” is now 110 pounds, but she earns her keep by giving Sharon lots more ideas. Sharon followed the old rule to “write what you know” --- she now knows lots about dogs --- but then she added in a dollop of imagination and wrote C'mere Boy --- a story about a dog that really, really, really wants a boy.

When she isn't writing or walking her dog, Sharon likes to cook, run and talk to children and adults about writing. And she has never stopped reading.

Toronto, Ontario

January 21st

Where do you live?
Toronto, Ontario

Who is in your family?
My husband, Anthony, and my three children: Adrian, Guy and Mia.

Do you have any pets?
We've had several over the years but none now.

What is your favorite book?
I read all the time, so I have many, many favorites.

What is your favorite movie?
As a child it was The Wizard of Oz. I never, ever missed watching it on television and would hide behind the chair whenever the wicked witch showed up.

What are your hobbies?
Reading, jogging and cooking and eating.

When did you start writing?
I wrote my first play when I was in grade four. Twenty-six years later, my first book was published in 1990.

What was your schooling or training?
I have a master's degree in English and the diplomas in speech arts from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

How did you get involved with children's books?
I was an editor at a publishing company and worked on primary language arts textbooks. I had a child at home and spent almost all of my time submerged in children's reading materials. One thing led to another ... and I wrote my first book.

What is the thing that you like the most about creating children's books?
With a picture book, it is the package --- the way that words and art layer up to create something so dynamic.

Where do you work?
I have a desk in the corner of my bedroom.

How do you create your stories?
An idea will just get stuck in my brain, and I can't rest until I figure out what to do with it.

Do you have any tips for young creators?
Read, read, read. You'll get lots of good ideas, or, if you already have a good idea, you'll learn what to do with it. And, of course, you'll pick up lots of good writing skills.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Reading. I could spend a whole day doing nothing but reading. Not even get out of bed.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
After I spent all day reading, I'd want to act out the story. I'd gather up all my friends and put on a play. So I wanted to be a famous actress when I grew up. It never occurred to me to be a writer!

What is your next project?
I am working on a novel about an eleven year old girl who reads all the time and wants to be a famous writer. Where did I get an idea like that?

Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
Often the stories are based on things my children have said or done. And the mother, or the adult, in my stories is always wonderful. My children want you to know that I am not as wonderful as the mothers in my books.

What is the weirdest or most interesting job you have ever had?
One summer I worked as a bank teller for exactly eight minutes before I was fired. I could make up a story in my head but I couldn't add or subtract.

Bearcub and Mama

2006 - Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, Short-listed
2006 - Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Short-listed
2006 - Teacher's Choices Project, International Reading Association, Winner
2005 - Book of the Year, ForeWord Magazine, Winner

Picture Books