About

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman writes stories with a bit of mystery, a bit of humor, and a lot of fun. Her debut novel, Book Scavenger (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt for Young Readers), was an Indie Next Kids’ Top Ten Pick, a Junior Library Guild selection, and one of five titles chosen for Publisher’s Weekly Best Summer Middle Grade Books for 2015, among other accolades. A sequel titled The Unbreakable Code will be published in 2016, followed by a stand-alone middle grade mystery in 2017. She has an MFA in creative writing and worked in publishing for over a decade before becoming a children’s book author.

Download high and low resolution author photos (zip file)

Photo by Joseph Jestes

favorite

  • Color: orange
  • Ice Cream Flavor: Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip
  • Board Game: Scattergories
  • Video Games: Q-Bert, Mario Kart, Cut the Rope
  • Sports: dance and snowboarding
  • Animals: cats, dogs, and llamas
  • Movie: Clue
  • TV Show: Gilmore Girls
  • Muppet: Swedish Chef
The first day of sixth grade.
Me and my brother.
Where I do most of my writing these days.
I like to surround myself with happy things in my office, like my wind-up toy collection, my Muppets collection, and childhood lunchboxes. (Also note the beloved Spiderman shoes.)
Remy
Coco
Remy and Coco are great writing buddies.
My husband and I have known each other since junior high. We can often be found dancing in fields. (Photo credit: Joseph Jestes)

Long Bio

I was born and raised in Mountain View, California. I grew up in the same house for most of my childhood. We had a giant orange tree in our backyard, and I could often be found reading next to it in our hammock.

Reading in the hammock often turned into snoozing in the hammock.

Reading in the hammock often turned into snoozing in the hammock.

We always had at least one cat. I liked to try and dress them up and read them stories–some cats were more agreeable than others.

Two of the family cats who were more agreeable to my shenanigans.

Two of the family cats who were more agreeable to my shenanigans.

I have an older brother who I idolized. He introduced me ZZ Top, Van Halen, Atari, rollerblading, Dukes of Hazard, The A*Team, and lots more of my favorite things.

Here I'm helping my brother with his paper route, but what I'd like to point out are my Spiderman shoes. I loved those Spiderman shoes.

Here I’m helping my brother with his paper route, but what I’d like to point out are my Spiderman shoes. I loved those Spiderman shoes.

My dad built hot rods and dragsters and worked at National Semiconductor for over four decades. He introduced me to Chuck Berry and great movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and American Grafitti. My mom stayed at home and volunteered at my school when I was young, and worked as an office manager for various companies when I was a teenager. She introduced me to Ray Charles and Jim Croce and Singing in the Rain and other movies starring Gene Kelly.

My favorite family photo. On the back, my mom wrote "Tina Turner, Sonny Bono, and kids," which makes me love it even more.

My favorite family photo. On the back, my mom wrote “Tina Turner, Sonny Bono, and kids,” which makes me love it even more.

I grew up in a family of readers. Newspapers, magazines, and books–there was a high probability of spotting someone reading at any given point. My mom and I made regular trips to the public library, and she let me wander the children’s area and pick out whatever I wanted. We’d cross paths while browsing and she’d share a book she found that she thought I’d like. It was a wonderful way to feel both independent and like I was forming my own reading taste, but also like I was sharing a reading hobby with my mom. We continue to share reading recommendations with each other to this day.

At the library I always made the rounds past my favorite authors to see if there were any new-to-me books. These favorites included Lois Lowry, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Ruth Chew, Edgar Eager, Madeleine L’Engle, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Ellen Raskin, E. L. Kongisburg, James Howe, The Babysitter’s Club section, the Nancy Drew section . . .

The premier (and final) performance of "The Hamburger King" written, directed, and scored by myself and performed by my Cabbage Patch Kids.

The premier (and final) performance of “The Hamburger King” written, directed, and scored by myself and performed by my Cabbage Patch Kids.

When I was very young I liked to “make books”. I folded paper in half and stapled the spine, drew illustrations with my smelly Mr. Sketch pens, and narrated stories for my mom to write down until I knew how to write them down myself. I dreamed of growing up to be an author and illustrator. I wrote to many of my favorites asking for advice. James Howe wrote me back with a personalized letter right before my eleventh birthday. I have his letter framed in my office today, and it’s one of my most treasured childhood possessions.

In my teen years, I tried to write my own stories but I found it frustrating. The disparity between my writing and published books was plain to see. I felt like I had great stories in my head, but I didn’t know how to get them on paper. It was easier to sink into someone else’s world than try to make up my own.

I went to UC Irvine and double majored in dance and English. I took a creative writing class to fulfill an English requirement, and the spark reignited for my love of writing and telling stories. I took every creative writing class UC Irvine would allow, and then went on to study creative writing at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, where I earned my MFA.

The two best jobs in the world: being a mom and making up stories.

The two best jobs in the world: being a mom and making up stories.

After college I worked for an educational publisher in San Francisco. I’ve also taught writing and worked as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. These days, I live in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains with my husband, our son, and two cats. I don’t think an orange tree would fare very well here in Colorado, but I’m going to look into getting a hammock.

All materials © 2017 Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Author Website by Websy Daisy.