AuthorsFrom the Wire

In Conversation: Janet Tashjian and Jake Tashjian

In “In Conversation: Janet Tashjian and Jake Tashjian,” the mother-son duo discusses their collaborative process and the representation of neurodiverse characters in their new book, “Hannah Sharpe, Cartoon Detective.” Janet and Jake share their experiences in creating humor-filled stories that not only highlight the challenges faced by characters on the autism spectrum but also showcase their strengths. They also touch on the personal connections they draw from their own lives as a special needs family. With their unique perspective and creative approach, Janet and Jake aim to provide authentic representation and entertainment for readers of all backgrounds.

In Conversation: Janet Tashjian and Jake Tashjian

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Collaborative Process

Collaboration is an essential part of the creative process, but it can also present its own set of challenges. As Janet and Jake Tashjian discuss, each book they work on together becomes a learning experience. With each new project, they must navigate different obstacles and find ways to effectively communicate and collaborate.

One of the difficulties they faced in their collaboration was dealing with sensitive issues. In their new book, “Hannah Sharpe, Cartoon Detective,” they tackle the portrayal of a character on the autism spectrum. This required them to approach the subject with care and authenticity, drawing from personal experiences and research to ensure an accurate representation. Sensitivity and understanding were key in creating a character that resonated with readers.

The Covid-19 pandemic also impacted their collaborative process. With lockdowns and restrictions in place, their usual methods of working together were disrupted. Janet and Jake had to find new ways to stay productive and connected. Despite the challenges, they managed to keep busy, with Jake producing an impressive amount of illustrations for the new book. The pandemic forced them to adapt and find creative solutions, ultimately resulting in a unique and engaging final product.

The format of the new book, “Hannah Sharpe, Cartoon Detective,” is worth mentioning. Janet and Jake describe it as almost a graphic novel, with full-color illustrations and various formats and panels. This departure from their previous works allowed them to experiment with different storytelling techniques and engage readers in a visually immersive experience.

Dusty Pickle

One of the iconic elements of Janet and Jake Tashjian’s books is the character Dusty Pickle. Dusty Pickle is a cowgirl pickle that Jake has been drawing for years, and she has become a beloved recurring character in their stories. The origin of Dusty Pickle is a funny anecdote shared by Janet and Jake. It all started when Janet dropped a pickle on the floor at their Grammy’s house and it had some dust on it when she picked it up. She turned to Jake and asked him to draw a character named Dusty Pickle. The fact that Jake made her a cowgirl brought joy to Janet, and Dusty Pickle became a central character in their collaborations.

The role of Dusty Pickle in their books goes beyond being a fun and quirky character. Dusty Pickle represents a connection between Janet and Jake and their shared experiences. She symbolizes the unique and imaginative world they have created together, and her presence in their stories adds an element of familiarity and charm.

In Conversation: Janet Tashjian and Jake Tashjian

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Representation of Neurodiverse Characters

A significant aspect of Janet and Jake Tashjian’s work is the representation of neurodiverse characters. In their new book, “Hannah Sharpe, Cartoon Detective,” they tackle the portrayal of a young cartoonist on the autism spectrum and her cartoon alter ego. This representation is drawn from personal experiences, as Jake himself is on the spectrum.

Portraying the creative side and strengths of neurodiverse characters was a crucial aspect for Janet and Jake. They wanted to show that individuals on the spectrum have unique talents and abilities, even though they may face certain challenges. By focusing on the strengths of their characters, they aimed to create a more authentic representation that resonated with readers.

Balancing disabilities and strengths was an important consideration for Janet and Jake. They wanted to show the struggles and obstacles their characters face while also highlighting their resilience and determination. Striking this balance was key to creating well-rounded characters that were relatable and authentic.

Authenticity was a core value for Janet and Jake in representing neurodiverse characters. They wanted to create characters that reflected the real experiences of individuals on the spectrum. Drawing from their own experiences and knowledge, they worked to ensure that their portrayal was accurate and respectful.

Personal Reflections

Janet and Jake Tashjian’s collaborative process often draws on their personal experiences, and this is particularly evident in their new book, “Hannah Sharpe, Cartoon Detective.” Janet and Jake explore the similarities between Hannah and Jake, both being on the autism spectrum. This exploration allowed them to delve into their own experiences and reflect on the challenges they have faced.

One of the themes that emerges from their personal reflections is perseverance in the face of obstacles. Janet praises Jake for his ability to navigate curveballs, referring to unexpected challenges that come their way. She sees in both Jake and Hannah a remarkable perseverance that inspires her.

Humor is another element that Janet and Jake appreciate in their books. They highlight the role of humor in their stories, particularly in portraying Hannah’s creative side. Janet values the humor that Jake and his friends bring to their writing process, as it adds a lightness and joy to their storytelling.

Writing what they know is a principle that Janet and Jake uphold in their work. They believe in drawing from their personal experiences and the experiences of those around them to create authentic and engaging stories. By incorporating elements from their own lives, they strive to connect with readers on a deeper level.

In Conversation: Janet Tashjian and Jake Tashjian

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Future Projects

As Janet and Jake Tashjian reflect on their past collaborations, they also consider the possibilities for future projects. They discuss the idea of role reversal, with Jake taking on the role of writing the next book while Janet illustrates it. This humorous evaluation of the outcome highlights the unique dynamic between them and the potential for new and exciting projects in the future.

Janet and Jake’s future collaborations will continue to involve careful considerations. They will explore different themes, characters, and formats, always striving to create stories that resonate with readers. Their commitment to authenticity and engagement will continue to be at the forefront of their collaborative endeavors.

In summary, the collaborative process between Janet and Jake Tashjian is one that is filled with challenges, but also with growth and mutual respect. Their new book, “Hannah Sharpe, Cartoon Detective,” showcases their ability to tackle sensitive issues, represent neurodiverse characters, and reflect on their personal experiences. With each project, they push boundaries and explore new formats, always aiming to create authentic and engaging stories. The future holds exciting possibilities for their collaboration, as they continue to bring their unique voices and perspectives to the literary world.