When Jan Haag was a child, growing up next to a lake in Northern California, her father brought home a hand-cranked mimeograph machine and said, “Maybe you can do something with this.” Since she’d been writing poems and stories since she could hold a pencil, her parents helped her launch the Granite Bay Gazette, her first newspaper, when she was 11. Her mother typed up the stories and her father fired up the mimeograph machine, and Jan distributed her paper around the neighborhood, always on the lookout for news for the next issue.
She continued her journalistic career in high school, writing a column about her school’s events for the local paper and becoming editor of her high school paper. Jan pursued journalism in college at California State University, Sacramento, where she became editor-in-chief of the college paper, The Hornet. She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CSUS in journalism and English.
Jan worked as a reporter and editor at small Northern California newspapers in South Lake Tahoe and Vacaville before working for The Sacramento Bee as a copy editor and feature writer. She covered the California Legislature for United Press International in Sacramento and served as editor-in-chief of Sacramento magazine for four years.
She continues to write freelance stories for Sacramento magazine and other publications.
A poet and prose writer, Jan is the author of a book of poetry, Companion Spirit, and Ocean Falls, a young adult novel set in British Columbia. She is working on a novel set in Sacramento in the 1950s and the 1970s.
She is the editor of Amherst Writers & Artists Press and is an Amherst Writers & Artists affiliate who leads creative writing workshops in Sacramento.
Listen to Jan discuss her writing and the AWA method here.
Jan is a freelance editor for the Hawaii Revealed series of guidebooks by Andrew Doughty of Wizard Publications, which allows her to travel to some of the most beautiful places on earth. She has also written magazine travel articles about Hawaii for publications, including Sacramento magazine and The Sacramento Bee.
In 1993, Jan took a full-time teaching job at Sacramento City College. Since then Jan has taught literally thousands of students the basics and the finer points of journalism, as well as English composition and creative writing. She co-founded the college’s literary journal, Susurrus, in 1994, and advised it for 17 years. She continues to advise the campus newspaper, the Express, and Mainline magazine, the college’s journalistic magazine, which she launched in 2003.