Born in England, Jon Gibbs now lives in New Jersey where he’s a member of several writers’ groups, including SCBWI and The Garden State Horror Writers. He is the founder of The New Jersey Authors’ Network and FindAWritingGroup.com. Jon can usually be found hunched over the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on. It's a pleasure to have Jon with us here for a little Q&A.
What's more, Jon is giving away a free copy of his eBook, Fur Face, to one random commenter!
Are there any particular writers who inspired or influenced you?
In terms of writers who make me want to write as good as what they can, I’d say my biggest influence is Terry Pratchett. I’m a big fan of his Discworld novels especially the ones featuring the city guards and/or the witches. His books are often thought provoking, but always great fun. One moment he has you laughing out loud, the next he’s tugging at your heartstrings, often on the same page.
For inspiration, it has to be Jonathan Maberry. I first met him three years ago (at the 2008 Write Stuff Conference). He always seems so enthusiastic and the man’s a writing machine. He’s also what my old gran would have called ‘A do-fer’ [as in ‘What can I ‘do-fer’ you?’]. A lot of folks chasing their dreams and goals only focus on the people who can help them get where they want, Jonathan Maberry always seems to make time for (and be willing to help) people further down the writerly food chain.
What genres do you enjoy reading and what have you read lately?
I enjoy Terry Pratchett’s brand of fantasy. I also like Bernard Cornwell’s historical fiction, in particular his Saxon stories. I just finished the nook version of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book – I guess that would be fantasy/horror for middle grade readers – which was fun. Before that I listened to the audio version of all seven Harry Potter novels – read by Jim Dale. People always (rightly IMHO) praise J. K. Rowling for her excellent world-building, but for me, her greatest strength as a writer is her ability to create such a diverse range of interesting characters.
Tell us about your short story work previous to your first novel.
Being the naïve idiot I am, it never occurred to me to write short fiction before attempting a novel. That said, I’ve been known to write micro fiction (100 words), four of which were published. One, WILD WEST JUSTICE, even made it into the second Every Day Fiction anthology. A couple of years ago, I had a go at a proper short story, a 4,000-word science fiction piece (it got an honorable mention in the GSHW’s 2009 short story contest), but otherwise I’m strictly a book-length writer.
I find it cool that you were once a lead singer for a rock band. Tell us about Gentleman Jones. When did the band form? Were you one of the founding members? How long did you remain with the band?
Lol, trust me, it was a lot of fun, but really not as cool as it sounds.
I first joined the band (then called Bad Taste) on keyboards/backing vocals back in 1988, taking over the lead vocals a year later. Over the next sixteen years we self-published three albums and had a hoot and a half, but we were very much a legend in our own lunchtimes. In 2004 we were actually working on our fourth album, Vene, Vidi, Capitulati, but then I left England for New Jersey, which is why we never finished it.
What brought you to the USA?
Two of my three children are severely autistic. Much as we appreciated the help and support we got for them in England, there was a far broader range of educational and developmental support to be had in New Jersey. My lovely wife (aka Senior Management) works for an American bank. She got a transfer from their London operation to the one in New York City.
Your debut novel, Fur Face (Echelon Press, June 2010), is a middle grade fantasy about 13-year-old Billy Euston who sets off on a mission to stop sinister animal experiments after he befriends Snowy (an outrageous talking cat that only he can hear). What inspired the story?
It started as a ‘What if…?’ I once had three cats that allowed me to look after them. As any cat lover will tell you they each have their own unique personality. I used to talk to mine all the time and often wondered what they’d say if they could answer back.
Was there a conscious decision to write Fur-Face as a middle grade piece?
Yes, I wrote it for my son, who was ten at the time, though I wasn’t really familiar with the term ‘middle grade’ back then.
Can you share any tidbits about your current projects? Are there are any future release dates you can announce at this time?
No future release dates as yet. I’m currently working on several novels: Waking up Jack Thunder (a science thriller); a fantasy/horror for boys aged 10-12 – tentatively called Bartholomew Jones and the Pirate from Hell; Dead Doris, a fantasy/horror for girls aged 10-12, and a sequel to Fur-Face entitled Barnum’s Revenge.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Aside from the boring day-to-day stuff we all have to do, I spend a lot of time blogging/social networking online, which is great fun. Since discovering the joys of streaming video via Netflix last year, Senior Management and I spend a fair amount of time in front of the telly, catching up on old shows and favorite movies.