Jane Hertenstein is a prolific author of fiction and creative non-fiction for adults and children. She enjoys long-distance bike touring, waking up early to work, running along the lakefront, and working with the homeless on the streets of Chicago.
Her latest book, Cloud of Witnesses, is based on her experiences substitute teaching in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in southern Ohio.
About her writing: “It all started a long time ago. Trees and poems. During my early years I would climb a tree and write a poem about trees. In 4th grade I dabbled in fiction—until my teacher complained to my parents I was “wasting time” writing stories instead of doing my schoolwork. An early activist, as a teen I wrote letters to the local newspaper trying to block an interstate roadway to protect my favorite oak tree.
“I always loved reading Newbery-award winners. Favorite books are the place-markers in my life. That time I read only mysteries or autobiographies of ingenious Americans (code for “men,” very few were about women). The summer I read Dickens or Louisa May Alcott, Austen and the Brontës. Then—I stumbled upon The Outsiders.
“The Outsiders switched on philosophical wondering and wandering. Next were Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, the Old and New Testaments. Craving realism, I read Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby. There was something out there that I wanted—not sure what, yet it wavered on the horizon like heat on hot pavement. I would write my way toward it.”