Jan divides her time between writing satirical novels and continuing her successful career as a journalist and editor. She credits her love of comedy partly to a bizarre childhood that at times resembled The Beans of Egypt, Maine with parkway tolls.

For the first 16 years of her life, Jan spent part of every summer living in a two-room shack without running water at the end of a dirt road the Pine Barrens, a beautiful and mysterious wilderness in southern New Jersey.

“When your friends are making S’mores at camp, and you’re fumigating the outhouse with a bucket of lime, comedy becomes a useful defense,” she said.

At the University of New Hampshire, Jan won Mademoiselle’s Guest Editor competition, which Sylvia Plath had lampooned in The Bell Jar. She started out as an editorial assistant at Mademoiselle, then worked as a staff writer and editor for Glamour and editorial director of Boston. She also spent eleven years as the book editor and critic for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer and was the first editor-in-chief of Princeton Alumni Weekly who did not have a degree from Princeton University.

At the age of ten, Jan received the first of her many honors and awards when she won a photography contest sponsored by American Girl magazine. She represented her high school at Girls’ State, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and won first place for Art and Entertainment writing in the Ohio Excellence in Journalism competition. From 1998–1999, she was a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle and oversaw its book awards program.

Jan lives in New Jersey and, on a volunteer basis, serves as the leader of the Hunger Action Team for the Presbytery of Newark. She is writing two more books: a third novel and a memoir of a summer that she spent doing reels and jigs with Scottish Country Dance groups throughout Scotland.

“You haven’t lived,” she said, “until you’ve done ‘The Dashing White Sergeant’ with a Scotsman who has had one too many glasses of Glenfiddich.”


© 2005 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
Website design by Chris Costello.


Photos by Jane Williams Reed