Thankful Thursday: Jane Morris Interview

I am so excited to feature Jane Morris as the first Thankful Thursday post of 2021! I discovered Jane Morris knee deep in remote/hybrid teaching. I spent a handful of lunch breaks gobbling up my sandwich and the next chapter of her books. Yes, I read all of them.

Jane Morris is a seasoned teacher who writes about teaching in a humorous way, highlighting the nonsense educators see on the daily. If you work in education, or interested education, have a student in education, or want a good laugh read her Teacher Misery books asap.

You can check out Jane Morris on Goodreads, Instagram (@teachermisery), and find her work on Amazon.

Enjoy her author interview below!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I kind of always was a writer but I didn’t want to acknowledge it. It was the same with teaching. I always knew I’d be a teacher, but I tried to take different paths before realizing I was meant to be a teacher and I should just stop fighting it. I’ve been writing in two very different genres since I was like 13, comedy and dark stuff stemming from depression. I lost a parent to cancer when I was in 3rd grade, and writing helped me deal with my feelings. But comedy came naturally. I kept writing throughout high school and college. I wrote my first novel when I was 19, a really crappy version of the novel I recently released. I got my Masters in creative writing and I was the only person in the program who wouldn’t specifically refer to myself as a writer. One day, a professor said to me, “You ARE a writer. Not just a teacher. Just own it.” I felt like people who constantly refer to themselves as writers are more interested in promoting themselves as one than actually doing it. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person to come out of that program who ever sold any books. 😄

How did Teacher Misery come to be?

From the very beginning of my teaching career I just couldn’t believe the absurdity of everything that was going on. I immediately started to collect artifacts like crazy parent emails. I wasn’t sure why I was collecting, but I couldn’t let these things go. People kept saying “someone should write a book about this,” and I thought, “Maybe I will!” I started to not down stories, both mine and others, and it was great therapy. There was a website at the time called College Misery where professors would anonymously vent about similar kinds of crap they were experiencing. I asked if they would mind if I made a place on their site for K-12 teachers to vent and they were supportive. I started to post on there and called it Teacher Misery. Then I made an Instagram to go along with it and that kind of exploded. Having that audience lit a fire under me to fully write and publish the book.

As a teacher, I found all of the Teacher Misery books to be therapeutic and humorous. It was refreshing to find books that featured the craziness of the classroom. A few chapters into Teacher Misery, I knew there would be some who would be taken aback by the stories. What do you tell those who believe the classroom is nothing but butterflies and rainbows?

I tell them to read the books! That’s why I wrote them! I was turning into a nutjob who would monopolize conversations at dinner parties after being asked the innocent question, “How’s teaching?” I needed to put all of the information in one place so I could just say, “Read this! It’s all true!” and move on with my life.

What is your favorite teaching memory?

I don’t have one specific memory but I see a highlight reel in my head of students laughing hysterically in my class when they dress up as characters from plays. Of course there are so many memories of students I became close with who confided in me and I was able to see how my support made a difference to them. Actually, I do have a favorite memory. A student teacher I was working with and I were dressed up as witches for the opening scene of Macbeth. She was really goofy and willing to put herself out there and we looked ridiculous in these really gross old wigs. It was a particularly shy class, and we stood there doing crazy voices and making weird faces and we both started laughing and couldn’t stop. It was one of those infectious laughs where the whole class looked around at each other like we were nuts but then they started laughing too. It was so much fun and the students really opened up after that and we’re willing to dress up and look silly and laugh with us.

Do you have a favorite story from Teacher Misery, if so which one?

Probably the story about the student who overdosed on my class, only because I included an update that he came back to visit and had dealt with his mental health issues and became an EMT to help others. He told me he really appreciated how understanding I was that day and that he didn’t feel like I was judging him, unlike the nurse who was yelling at him as he faded in and out of consciousness. I also love the story about Juicy Fruit’s mom because it was hilarious when it happened and I think that really comes across in the story.

Are there any titles you find similar to Teacher Misery?

Not really! It’s really risky to write true stories like that because not only can you lose your job, you can probably be sued. I’m the only one reckless enough to put it out there! Hooray for pen names!

Outside of Teacher Misery, you recently released a historical fiction piece called Memento Mori. Can we expect to see more creative work from you?

I’ve been struggling with this. The reception to M.M. wasn’t what I was hoping for. Those who read it loved it, but not a lot of people were willing to try it, which was discouraging. Much more time and effort went into the novel than my other books so it’s hard to conjure up the energy again without feeling like a lot of people want it. However, I’ve had the idea for my next novel banging around in my head and I have a feeling it’s an itch I’m going to have to scratch!

 Are there any titles you find similar to Memento Mori?

Not really, which is kind of why I wrote it. I have always loved the story of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and I really wanted to read a sexy, edgy contemporary version of it… so I wrote it!

What is your favorite book?

This is such a hard question for me but overall the books that made the biggest impact on me are Demian by Herman Hesse, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Conversations with God.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished the Invisible Life of Addie La Rue, which I Ioved. I just started reading People you Meet on Vacation to see what the big deal is, and so far I’m not sure. 

Do you have a favorite genre?

I don’t really have one. I bounce around a lot.

What is your favorite reading format (Ebook, audiobook, physical book)?

Definitely paperback. Hardcover is too heavy and ebooks don’t feel real enough.

Parting Comments?

A note to book reviewers: It takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and dedication to write a book. Consider the author’s feelings when reviewing. You can be honest but maybe put it in a way that you would if you were reviewing your best friend’s book. Bad reviews sometimes just feel mean and petty and are very discouraging. You could be preventing the next great author from writing their greatest work.  Also, just because.

Book links

A special thanks to Jane Morris for participating in Thankful Thursdays!

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