Wednesday, April 15, 2015


In this interview, Janet Heller, author of The Passover Surprise, talks about her sources of inspiration and her connection to Judaism. 

Q. What is the source of your inspiration?

A: I am 65 years old, and I taught English and women's studies courses at various colleges and universities for 35 years, so I have many experiences to draw on for my writing. I also served as a teacher and principal for two Jewish religious schools. I organized a successful faculty union at one university. Sometimes, I adapt stories that friends have told me about problems that they faced. I love nature, so I include birds, animals, trees, and flowers in my work. I have four younger brothers and sisters, and I began writing stories for them when I was about nine years old. I also write for my former religious school students and for my parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and great-nephews. Often, I write about a problem that troubles me. I usually feel better and understand the situation better when I can articulate my feelings in words.

Q. What brought you to use midrash as a source for your work?

Friday, April 10, 2015


Available in print and all ebook formats
Author Janet Ruth Heller describes the personal story behind The Passover Surprise in this blog interview.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Passover Surprise, and why did you incorporate the Passover holiday into the story?

A: The Passover Surprise is based on a real-life problem that I had when I was nine years old. I did not ask adults or friends for help. I was deeply hurt by favoritism within my family. However, I wanted Lisa to get help from wise adults in my story.

I set The Passover Surprise during Passover because it is a time of miracles and reversals of fortune: slaves get freed, but masters get smitten with plagues. A small miracle happens for Lisa when she persuades her father to listen to her perspective. ...

Read the full interview in Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb.