Janet Marie Walker was born in San Antonio, Texas, as the daughter of Marie and Sgt. William Edward Walker Jr. of Charleston, South Carolina. By the time she was four, her parents had moved to Augusta, Georgia, where Ms. Walker grew up and enjoyed reading novels, playing sports, visiting the public library, and studying the Bible literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Since graduating from A.R. Johnson Health Professions High School in Augusta, Ms. Walker has held jobs as newspaper reporter and copy editor, TV associate producer, intern for a New York City publishing house, cross-country truck driver and, for eleven years, UPS package handler. She once struggled as a welfare mother and, like a pivotal character in one of her fictional works, has served as a janitor on a housekeeping staff—in Ms. Walker’s case, at the Cable News Network (CNN) headquarters in Atlanta.
In 1991, Ms. Walker became founding editor of Candace (kan-DAY-see), a regional magazine patterned after Essence and the first publication of its kind in the Augusta area. As an incoming freshman at Augusta State University in 1993, she received the Will Shingleton and Samantha Dawes Wich scholarships for creative writing, one of which is normally reserved for juniors. She was a student presenter at national rhetoric-composition conferences and became the first and second recipient of ASU’s annual James Lott-Walter Wiggins Communications Scholarship.
In 1994, Ms. Walker received top guest-editorial spot in The New York Amsterdam News for a racial evaluation of Disney’s movie The Lion King, and her feminist critique, “The Disney Girl,” appeared in the St. Martin’s Press college text The Great American Bologna Festival and other Student Essays, 1994 edition. For two years, she wrote fictional stories about the Imani doll for Olmec Toys, once the nation’s largest producer of ethnic toys. The stories were designed into booklets that sold with the dolls.
In 2000, Ms. Walker enrolled in Georgia State University in Atlanta, where she studied rhetoric and composition and African American Studies and maintained a 4.0 GPA for four years. As an undergraduate McNair scholar, she performed graduate-level research contrasting black female stereotypes in novels by Lillian Smith, Margaret Mitchell, and William Faulkner.
Ms. Walker has written four novel manuscripts, a full-length stage drama, and a 14-volme transcription of her 28-year diary. Sexual taboo, class differences among African Americans, and the complex nature of female sexuality are the themes that drive her fiction (the novel series Amazed by her Grace and the stage drama Desire of Ovid's Mother). Her non-fiction (the diary series unadorned diary of a teenaged girl, scheduled for publication in 2014) examines the way that submersion in a cultish religion (Jehovah’s Witnesses) influences the psychosexual and social development of a young person. Ms. Walker’s ultimate dream is to walk into a public library and find her works not only wedged between those of Alice and Margaret Walker, but also held in similar high regard.