For the Love of FACS, Reading in the FACS Classroom

Continuing the Q & A with Joan Bauer

We continue today with the Q & A with Author Joan Bauer.  Two of Joan’s books are featured in our FACS literacy resource, A Novel Approach to FACS, Fiction in the FACS Classroom: Close to Famous and Hope Was Here. 

Q #6:   Readers will learn a lot about retail sales and marketing from reading Rules of the Road. Have you ever worked in a retail store?

Ms. Bauer:  No, but I did a great deal of research about the shoe business and I chose shoes because I thought it took a special kind of person to sell shoes. Feet aren’t the most glamorous part of the body, you have to kneel down, etc.

Q #7:   The relationship that develops between Jenna and Mrs. Gladstone is one of mutual respect and admiration. What was it about Jenna that inspired Mrs. Gladstone’s confidence in and affection for her?

Ms. Bauer:   I think she saw Jenna’s exceptional work ethic — this was a girl who could be counted on to get the job done. I think both Mrs. Gladstone and Jenna had difficult relationships with an important family member that drew them together — Jenna with her father, and Mrs. Gladstone with her son. And then when they went on the road trip together, Mrs. Gladstone saw an even deeper layer of who this young woman was. Jenna reminded her of herself as a young girl.

Q #8:   We meet Jenna Boller again in your novel Best Foot Forward. What made you decide to continue Jenna’s story?

Ms. Bauer:   Lots of readers had encouraged me to do it, although when I finished Rules of the Road, I had no plans to writea companion book. But there was so much that I wanted to know about these characters and the next part of the story emerged. And working with Jenna and Mrs. Gladstone again was like meeting two old friends after several years had passed, but you just get down to business with each other.

Q #9:   In Hope Was Here, you created a community of characters that demonstrate great strength and resilience. Each character portrays important life skills to your readers. Do you craft the story to fit the characters or the characters to fit the story line?

Ms. Bauer:   I think it’s not one or the other, but knowing who the characters are (why they’re strong, what they’ve learned) and then letting them go into the story and be with each other. It’s a fascinating process creating a novel, but the most important thing I do is to try to create characters who are multi-layered and real. And as you’ve seen, having a job and enjoying work is something many of my characters live out in different ways. That’s my heart beating in them.

Q #10:  Through reading Hope Was Here, we learn that there’s a lot more to being a good waitress than meets the eye. Do your insights into the restaurant business come from personal experience or research?

Ms. Bauer:   No research needed for the waitress parts because I was a waitress for several years. It remains one of my most potent learning experiences. The number one requirement for being a good waitress — you’ve got to care about people.

Learn more about all of Joan Bauer’s books at

The interview with Joan Bauer concludes on Monday!  Enjoy your weekend!