By Sadie Hunter
At 44, Jeanna Janes jokes that she now knows what she wants to be when she grows up – an author.
After working three-and-a-half years on her first novel, Janes celebrated the recent premiere of “Seas Apart” Dec. 16 at a book-signing event at The Wild Bookstore in downtown Noblesville at 884 Logan St.
Alongside her was her illustrator, Sammy Shertzer, a 14-year-old Noblesville High School freshman who began working with Janes in January, marking her first professional illustration gig at just 13.
Janes said she’s known Shertzer nearly her entire life. Shertzer’s mother and Janes were in Mom’s Club together.
“My mom was just like, ‘Do you want to illustrate a book?’” Shertzer said. “This is my favorite thing that I’ve done. I really like art, and I haven’t really had a school art class until this year, but I really love it.”
Shertzer said she works primarily in two-dimensional media. The book cover was done in watercolor, but a map inside the book was done in pencil. Each chapter illustration was done in pen.
“I really wanted her vision,” Janes said. “So I said, ‘Read the chapter. If something stands out to you, that’s what I want that chapter image to be.’ Every chapter has a different image. I wanted it to be from someone her age, because that’s who the novel is intended for. It took me a year to write it, and a year after that to work with a couple of different editors and teachers. Then I started talking to Sammy about illustrating.”
Janes said she was inspired by her late grandfather to write the book.
“I started the book right after my grandfather passed away, when I was 40, and my grandfather was always very creative and liked to build things and make things,” she said. “I was a theater major, and he always wanted me to be a painter. So after he died, I thought, you know, there has to be some way to channel all of this creativity, and I just started writing with no purpose, no goal in sight … just when someone passes away, that emotion is there. I didn’t sit down and plan it, but it evolved to where I really started enjoying it and creating the characters and the story, and then I realized I had something.”
Now, Janes is working on promoting the book locally and nationally, selling the book on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites. In 2017, the book will be sold in Barnes & Noble stores.
Janes also has begun working on an outline for the second book in the series, and Shertzer will return as its illustrator.
“I think book two will go much faster because now I understand a lot more about the process,” she said. “I already have a lot of ideas, and I can bring Sammy in earlier (to begin illustrations).”
As far as a timeline, Janes said she isn’t sure when the next book will be printed or published.
“It would be nice to have (book two) out by this time next year, but that’s very optimistic,” she said.
In the coming weeks, Janes said she will present “Seas Apart” at a few schools, and at the beginning of the year will have a book-signing event with Barnes & Noble.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Career: Was a theater major in college. Formerly worked as a registered nurse. Has been PTO president and a volunteer at White River Elementary for the past 10 years, where she served on the Safe Schools Committee. She is now an author. “I tell people that I finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up,” she said.
Residence: Is a native of Kentucky. Has lived in Noblesville since 2004.
Family: Married to husband Brian for 18 years. Together they have two kids: Cole, 14, is a freshman at Noblesville High School, and Clay, 11, is a sixth grader at East Middle School.
ABOUT THE BOOK: ‘SEAS APART’
“I wanted to have a male (Simmons) and female (Jacqui) character so that both boys and girls could have someone they could relate to,” author Jeanna Janes said. “My brother says the female character is very much like me, but that was completely a subconscious thing. The male character is very calm, laid back and very sure about things, and she (the female character) comes across very strong, but not obnoxiously strong. In the storyline, Jacqui’s grandfather passes away, and her mother inherits a journal, and there’s a secret inside the journal.”
Publisher: Jiant Journeys, and inprint of Flannigan press
Audience: Target audience is for middle grades, ages 9 to 14.
Cost: $11.99 paperback, $19.99 hard cover