"...one of the brightest new stars of contemporary middle grade." - BookPage
Janae Marks is an author of middle grade novels. Her debut From the Desk of Zoe Washington is an indie bestseller and was named a Best Book of the Year by Parents Magazine, Book Riot, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Chicago Public Library and the Boston Globe. Her second novel A Soft Place to Land releases in Fall 2021. She has an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School, and lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughter and miniature schnauzer named Cookie.
Janae is part of the Renegades of Middle Grade and is a co-founder of Middle Ground Book Fest.
THE LONGER VERSION:
Janae grew up in the suburbs of New York City, where she always wrote. She started out writing illustrated autobiographical stories in kindergarten, and then journal entries, stories to submit to Seventeen Magazine‘s short story contests, and letters to her pen pals and summer camp friends. She read a lot too, of course. Her books were among her prized possessions.
In high school, Janae thought she wanted to pursue musical theater. She loved being on stage, but eventually realized that she cared more about the stories than the performances. While getting her undergraduate English degree, she switched her focus to creative writing and never looked back. She took a literature class on "Girls’ Books," where she read Little Women, Harriet the Spy, Weetzie Bat, The Golden Compass, and others. She remembered how much she loved stories for children - and still connected with them, even as an adult. That love only grew when she got an MFA in Creative Writing (Writing for Children) from The New School. She’d found her passion! After college, she got an inside look at the publishing world while spending seven years working for a Big 5 publisher. Now, she lives in Connecticut, and when she’s not writing fiction or working in education, she’s spending time with her husband and daughter - at the beach, when it's warm enough!
Janae wrote three young adult manuscripts before switching to middle grade and writing From the Desk of Zoe Washington. In 2017, that novel won the Tassy Walden: New Voices in Children's Literature Award in the middle grade category. Soon after she signed with her literary agent, Alex Slater at Trident Media Group. From the Desk of Zoe Washington was published on January 14, 2020 by HarperCollins Katherine Tegen Books. It received four starred reviews, is a Junior Library Guild selection, a #1 Indie Next pick and an indie bestseller. It was also named Best Book of the Year by Parents Magazine, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and the Boston Globe. Her second middle grade novel, A Soft Place to Land, releases on September 14, 2021.