WCYA Student Jessie Janowitz Releases THE DOUGHNUT FIX

What was your inspiration for writing The Doughnut Fix?

There were two real sparks that set me on the path to writing The Doughnut Fix. Strangely perhaps, neither was a doughnut.

Spark #1:

Back in 2008–I incubate stories for a long time before I put pen to paper–I witnessed kids being pulled from my son’s school mid-year. It was during the financial crisis, and these families’ circumstances had changed so drastically and suddenly that they had to leave their homes and community. It was clear that these kids sensed something had gone terribly wrong, but they were never told the complete story. Moving can be traumatic enough, and I wondered what that experience would be like if the decision was taken suddenly, and you knew you weren’t getting all the facts.

Spark #2:

This sign is in the window of a small market in a very small town I drive through all the time. It always made me laugh and wonder what the story behind it might be. There was something about the store, one that had seen better days, that made me suspect that it didn’t actually have chocolate cream doughnuts, which made the sign so much better, not as a potential doughnut source, of course, but as story material. A lying sign really got my imagination going.

Did you like cooking as a kid? (Or just liked eating doughnuts, like me!)

My mom was amazing, but she was not a baker. When I had my first child, I’d never baked, not even a chocolate chip cookie! I learned to bake with my kids.

For me, baking is about family, making stuff together, tasting it together, laughing together if it turns out awful. 

What has been the most rewarding part of writing this book?  Have you been able to connect with children during your promotions?

Connecting with kids, and hearing how they have connected to this story, has definitely been the most rewarding part of this journey. I’ve been doing school visits with an interactive presentation that asks kids to come up with and share a story idea.

Then we talk about how their choice of narrator, tense, and structure will impact their readers’ experience. I love hearing the kids’ ideas, and many of them come up to me afterwards to continue the conversation. 

It’s also been particularly satisfying to me as the mother of two boys to hear how boys are connecting to the story. It was very important to me to that my main character Tris defied gender stereotypes. I wanted to show a boy who loved sports; and baking; and thought about how to negotiate friendships and sibling relationships.

What connections that you made at VCFA may have helped add value to the process of writing and promoting this book?

I completed this book before I entered the program, but the VCFA community has been so generous with its support. Cynthia Leitich Smith was my advisor first semester when I sold the book, and she offered her guidance from the start. Then when the book came out, she featured the book on Cynsations. My other advisors, Tim Wynne-Jones and Varian Johnson, have also been supportive of the book on social media. I can’t enumerate all the instances of support I’ve received from VCFA students and alum. It’s been incredible. I was particularly touched when a class member took to our class Facebook page to praise the book and urge everyone to request that their local library get a copy as she had done.

What do we have to look forward to after The Doughnut Fix? 

The sequel! And I did work on this with both Tim and Varian. I took this semester off to finish it. It’s due out spring 2019.

Thank you, Jessie!  We are looking forward to the sequel as well!