The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Jen Fier Jasinski
Jen Fier Jasinski is a picture book author who lives and creates near Washington, D.C.
When she’s not writing, Jen can be found with her spouse and kids, teaching, or playing outside. Her favorite days are when she gets to do all four. Her extra favorite days include cake.
Her debut picture book, My Piano, was released on September 19th.
Welcome Jen, thank you so much for stopping by to talk about your picture book and your writing.
Tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you write? How long have you been writing? What is your favorite type of book to write?)
I loved reading when I was growing up. I poured over pages in my parents’ laps and loved being read to. Once I learned to read myself, books became an escape– a time to discover new worlds as well as my own interests and abilities. I grew up to become a teacher and it was then that I became fascinated with the artform of the picture book. I would always try to squeeze just a little more Story Time into the school day and began studying the craft of writing.
Since then, I’ve become an aunt and mom, and now an author! My favorite books to write are the same as those I love to read - playful stories that make me laugh, think, or say “aww!”
It's very nice to get to know you. What do you like to do outside by yourself or with your family?
Walk, bike, hike, picnic, hula hoop… almost anything! I love spending time outside. Most consistently, though, I run. I joined the track and cross-country teams in high school honestly because they were the only sports without tryouts. But I quickly fell in love with running and now I can’t imagine life without it. Getting in miles on the road or trail is how I reset my focus and attitude.
Fun way to discover a joy of running. What was your inspiration or spark of interest for My Piano?
One day our piano technician came to tune our grand piano. I don’t play myself, my husband does, and I had never seen a tuning before. She pulled out the piano action (the mechanism inside the piano which turns key depressions into hammer strikes on piano strings,) and I was captivated. I had been listening to and living with this massive 700+ pound instrument for years without considering how it worked. I wondered, if I found it interesting, then maybe others might, too?
It is a pretty impressive thing to watch a piano turner at work! What was the toughest aspect of writing My Piano? And what was the most fun?
The toughest part was the rhyme! I studied rhyme with the hope it would advance my prose writing, not with an intention to write rhyming picture books. But sometimes a story just demands to be written in rhyme, and My Piano was one of them. (Thank goodness I have talented and patient critique partners who supported me on my learning curve.) Now I love to write in rhyme! I still find it difficult, but puzzles can be fun!
The most fun aspect was weaving in the social emotional layer. It was easy for me to channel the feelings of a child with performance anxiety, and it felt important as I wrote it. It felt special to write a story I believed could both inform and help readers.
I love that you married the STEM aspect of the mechanics of a piano with performance anxiety. Is there anything you want your readers to know about or gain from My Piano?
Yes! I hope readers will realize anxiety is a normal, healthy feeling. It can help us stay focused and organized, and it isn’t a permanent feeling. My Piano’s backmatter has tips for a successful performance, musical or otherwise, where I hope readers will find comfort and encouragement to try their best and have some fun. I use it to prepare for my own author visits!
Ha! First time I've heard that. When you first saw Anita Bagdi’s illustrations did anything surprise or amaze you? Which is your favorite spread?
Text © Jen Fier Jasinski, 2023. Image © Anita Bagdi, 2023.
I knew from Anita’s portfolio My Piano would be beautiful, but I was still floored when I saw the art. It’s whimsical, enchanting, and truly works in harmony with the text. Anita focused on the parts of the piano in a way that aids comprehension to the text, but always keeps the feelings of excitement and anticipation at the forefront. I adore how she portrays light and every swirl of her floating music. The recital spread with hand lettering is my favorite, followed closely by the next one with the audience. I am so grateful Gnome Road Publishing put My Piano in her talented, capable hands.
That one is so stunning and magical. Are there any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?
Yes! I’m looking forward to the publication of Sidewalk Chalk in 2025, also with Gnome Road Publishing and illustrated by Lea Marie Ravotti. It’s about a shy child who wants to join their neighborhood kids as they create a chalk art storyscape together. I like to call it a lyrical celebration of creativity, collaboration, and community.
I’m also pleased to share that there's an intention to make more books like My Piano, which I hope readers will look out for!
Nice! We will have to keep our eyes open for these books. What is your favorite National Park or Forest, regional park, or city park (anywhere in the world)? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?
This is a toughie! I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of parks, but my favorite is Burke Lake Park. I’ve run it hundreds of times and know nearly every curve in the trail. I’ve run that trail when times were hard, just to hear my own breath and reconnect with my body. I’ve run it to celebrate some of my happiest moments, with extra bounce in each step. And I’ve run it in many different states in between, just because.
Thank you, Jen, for stopping by and sharing your time and thoughts with us. It was wonderful to chat with you.
To find out more about Jen Fier Jasinski, or contact her: