jan andrews


     STORIES TO HEAR          a storyteller’s life


Let’s start with something strange!  I’ve been a writer of books for young people for almost forty years but it’s not what I thought I was going to be.  I think being a writer was like a dream I couldn’t have.  I got started because my children were small and I was telling them stories.  One of those stories felt like a story in a book.  I wrote it down and I was hooked. 

The lake in the photo is the lake where I live.  It’s there in my backyard!  I can listen to the loons in the summer.  I can hear the ice freezing in the winter -- Wong, wong, wong.  Deer come down to drink.  That’s why we have a fence around our flower garden.  Before the fence, the deer ate all the flowers before they could appear!

I write on a computer that sits on a table by a bay window.  Sometimes I find myself distracted by a chipmunk in the grass or an otter or a snapping turtle in the water.  Mostly I work fairly steadily like other people, nine to five.

I’m also a storyteller.  You can find out about that by going to my storyteller web pages.  Through my work I’ve traveled a lot.  I’ve been all over Canada from Inuvik in the Northwest Territories to St. John’s, Newfoundland, from Nanaimo, to Edmonton, to Toronto, to Halifax and places large and small between.  I’ve also been to Australia and to England.  England is where I was born.  I came to Canada when I was twenty one.  I went to Saskatoon.  I now live in Ontario, about an hour’s drive from Ottawa.  Canada is my home.  I’m proud of how we cherish our cultural diversity and our bilingualism.  I delight in the landscape, in the “feeling” of our living wherever I go.

My books have been shortlisted for a number of awards.  I’ve never actually won but I keep my fingers crossed.  I keep writing because I love making words work and creating my own worlds.  I also believe that books and stories give gifts for people to carry with them and turn to in times of need.  My book The Auction is about a farm being sold.  A boy once said to me, “I know why you wrote that book.  You wrote it because you want us to keep that farm alive in our hearts.”  In a way, that’s what I always want.  I also want my readers to be affirmed in the knowledge that through the hardest of times they can manage what has to be done.  Of course, I also want them to have fun with my books. 

I do a lot of organizing of arts events.  I was part of founding an organization to bring artists of all kinds into schools.  I was the first president of Storytellers of Canada-Conteurs du Canada (www.sc-cc.com).  I have directed two storytelling series (one involving tellings of epics like The Odyssey).  I created and ran a project called StorySave for recording elders from the Canadian storytelling community. 

What do I do when I’m not working?  Check out the pics!  The last one’s family, with me looking younger.


Photo: Jennifer Cayley