Janet Taylor Lisle

Author Interview
What kind of family did you grow up in?
A large one. There were five children in our family, four boys and me, the only girl. I was the oldest, so I guess it’s no surprise to find younger brother characters of older sisters in my novels. My two favorites are Wendell, 8, in Forest and Jonathan, 6, in my book, Quicksand Pond. They’re both loveable but can also be a pain in the neck, like my brothers back then.
Was anyone else in your family a writer?
None of my brothers grew up to be writers, but my father wrote stories as a young man. He stopped when he went to work for an insurance company to support our family. He had a high regard for children’s books and toward the end of his life worked on a fantasy about a ship’s cat sailing the high seas. He died before it was finished. In a way, I’ve always felt that I was carrying on where he left off. I would never try to finish his story though. I love it the way it is: all his.
Do you have any children?
A daughter, Elizabeth. She’s working in live theater now and has two children of her own. We’re all crazy book-lovers who talk about books and read to each other whenever we can. I guess it’s in the blood.
How about pets?
Last spring, a tiny calico kitten turned up down the road from my house. Nelly had been just barely surviving on crickets and ants in the wild. At first she was very scared and lived under my kitchen stove. Now, she’s so big she doesn’t fit under the stove, and anyway, she doesn’t need it. She’s come out on her own and learned to trust the world.
Where do you live?
My home is on the Rhode Island seacoast, a landscape I’ve often used as settings for my stories. The rocky shorelines and beaches described in The Lampfish of Twill and Black Duck come from places I often walk. A nearby woods was inspiration for Forest and Highway Cats. I look out on a pond from my writing room that slowly changed in my imagination into a secluded body of water. It became the center of Quicksand Pond, and its title. The raft Jessie and Terri find in the story is like the one I rode on with a friend many years ago on this same pond.
Do you put people you know in your books?
Never whole. I borrow bits and pieces, hair color, a way of speaking, a pair of boots. For my first book, The Dancing Cats of Applesap, I gave my own shyness as a child to Melba Morris, the heroine. In Afternoon of the Elves, Sara-Kate’s thinness came from a school friend of my daughter’s.
Speaking of Afternoon of the Elves, how do you feel about sequels? Some people wish that book had one.
I’m fiercely protective of all the endings of my novels, not only Afternoon of the Elves but Highway Cats, Quicksand Pond and many others. No sequels or final melodic plot chords, please! I like my novels to end by leaving unsettling questions of “what just happened here?” in readers’ minds. Sometimes, not everything is visible the first time through a story. As Sara-Kate advised Hillary about seeing an elf: Go slowly and quietly, and look deep.
What's best about being a writer?
Being a watcher. I like to stay back in the shadows where I can see without being seen. All sorts of amazing sights present themselves. My imagination fires up. Then, I write.
What's worst?
It's lonely work. A writer needs a lot of friends.
JTL's Signature
Mother reading to children
Janet with her mother
and three of her brothers
Learn more about Janet Taylor Lisle
Author Bio and Photos
Author Interview
Black Duck Interview
Highway Cats Interview
Read It and Just Wait a-Lisle Interview
Riverbank Review article
Skinny Dip Interview

JTL and daughter
Janet with her daughter, Elizabeth
Janet Taylor Lisle
Copyright 1999-, Janet Taylor Lisle. Privacy policy. All rights reserved.