Friday, June 28, 2013


My first manuscripts were pages of wavy lines. I didn’t know how to read, but I’d seen my parents put pen to paper and squiggle out symbols. So I sat at a desk and scribbled page after page of wavy lines. I loved the look of my creation. I loved the sound of the pencil on paper.

Learning to read was magic. And then I learned to print. Other people could (usually) read what I printed. What power!
I wrote a serious poem and read it to the extended family at one of our frequent get-togethers. My aunts praised me, but laughed. I thought they were amused because I’d written the word “he’ll”, and it did sort of look like a word that made seven-year-olds giggle, but I had very carefully added the apostrophe, so what was so funny? It took me a few years to figure it out. I’d written about “my” kitten—I’d never owned one—and had included this gem: “And then he’ll have kittens.”

Pleased with my great success with poetry, I planned to write more. I decided that when I grew up, I would write whole entire books.

Handwriting turned out to be even better than printing. The scratching sound of the pencil (usually dull because who had time for sharpening pencils?) flowed like a sort of music (this will give you an idea of my musical talent…) on the rough yellow paper they gave us.

I branched out from poetry to plays, and was frustrated because although writing was faster than printing, I still couldn’t write as quickly as the dialogue came to me (probably a good thing…)

And then, when I was about twelve, our class visited the local water works. I liked field trips, but they always had this downside of having to write reports afterward. My teachers wanted facts, not fiction. What fun was that?
As usual, I procrastinated about writing that paper until very late, and then, at the last minute, the beginning of the waterworks report came out as two lines that rhymed. I thought of two more rhyming lines, and added those. I wrote the entire report, all about chlorine, underground rivers, pipes, and pumps, in rhyming couplets.
Luckily, my teacher appreciated my . . . we’ll call it originality. She didn’t need to know that the poem had stemmed from desperation and a form of laziness. She decided that our year-end assembly would be a play featuring my poem. And I was to head the team of playwrights.

By some miracle (like maybe I was casting director?) I ended up in what I considered to be the lead role—an eccentric aunt who read the poem about the waterworks to her adoring nephews and nieces. I’m sure that the entire school, plus whichever parents could attend that day, were entertained, educated, and edified.

I grew up (well, maybe) and had a real career—working mostly with numbers, which was often less interesting than writing reports about field trips. I never stopped wanting to write fiction, though, and now, finally, I tap keys on a keyboard, and the equivalent of wavy lines appear on a screen and end up bound into books--real ones! I remember that tiny girl at the too-high desk, scratching out page after page of wavy lines, and I see my published books, and I pinch myself.

Everyone has to start from scratch, I guess.

DIRE THREADS, the first book in Janet Bolin’s Threadville Mystery series received a nomination for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. It was also shortlisted for the 2012 Bony Blithe. Janet’s second book, THREADED FOR TROUBLE, was shortlisted for the 2013 Bony Blithe. Her third book, THREAD AND BURIED, was a National Bestseller in the U.S. All of Janet’s books can be ordered at your favorite bookstore.
Visit Threadville, read excerpts from Janet’s books, and find booksellers at
“Like” her on facebook: her on twitter:!/@JanetBolinAnd keep your eyes open for information about the fourth Threadville Mystery, coming in June, 2014.

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