Jane O'Reilly

Catherine Watson

Jane O’Reilly is the author of the acclaimed middle grade novels, The Secret of Goldenrod and The Notations of Cooper Cameron. She is the recipient of a McKnight Fellowship in Screenwriting and also holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. The youngest of five children, she grew up in an old house, enjoyed her early summers traveling the USA and Mexico on family road trips, and spent her teenage summers in the North Woods at the cabin her grandfather built. Curious about nearly everything, Jane and her stories are inspired by small towns, old houses and the universal need for hope. Although born and raised in Minnesota, Jane and her husband, John, and dog, Poppy, now call Des Moines, Iowa, home.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I know I loved Charlotte’s Web enough to name my first pet, a kitten, Fern, but the book that haunts me, in a good way, is My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. The idea of “home” is a very important theme to me.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“It amazes me what humans can do. . .” and “I am haunted by humans,” both from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

A.A. Milne and E.B. White for the achievement of literary playfulness; Kate DiCamillo for masterful simplicity and zeroing in the human heart and Markus Zusak for stunning, provocative language, ideation and storytelling.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I have always loved stories—in every form, from recapped days at the dinner table to movies and all kinds of books. And I love words—how they sound, how they’re spelled, how they’re grouped together to reveal thoughts and emotions and create ideas. Stories to tell plus words to play with equals writing.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Write from the heart and never, ever give up on your dreams.