Jacqueline Jules is an award-winning author and poet. Her many children’s books include The Hardest Word (National Jewish Book Award finalist), Happy Hanukkah Lights, and Picnic at Camp Shalom. She lives in northern Virginia.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
My favorite book was The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I adored the idea of little people under the floorboards swiping all the little things I could never find. I still think there must be little people in my house, borrowing all the items I can’t locate when I need them.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“Maybe, if you aren’t unhappy sometimes, you don’t know how to be happy.” – from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I became an author because I love to play with words. Words give us the means to communicate with others. We speak them, we write them, and we read them. My love of words began with my love of reading. As a child, I sat for hours—sometimes in the crook of an apple tree, sometimes in an easy chair—lost in absorbing mysteries, fantasies, biographies, and realistic or historical fiction. I didn’t have much preference, and still don’t, for a particular genre. I am just an enthusiastic fan of a good story with compelling characters.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
Remember that it takes a very long time to become skilled at any art form. Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, says it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to excel at something. I totally agree. I’ve been practicing my craft for over thirty years, and it still takes many revisions before I get a story right. My first drafts are always caterpillars, barely able to crawl. A few drafts later, I have a cocoon. Many more drafts later, I have a wet butterfly. My work goes through so many revisions before it is publishable, that I lose count. Writing is hard work. You need to have the patience and persistence to write and re-write.