As a companion piece to the Fur-Face book review, here’s an interview from Jon Gibbs. Welcome, Jon, to Writer Tamago. Thanks for the delightful and funny interview. For the record, I really like Mr. Tinkles a lot too.
Tamago: Where did you get your ideas for Fur-Face?
Jon: I’ve always liked the idea of someone hearing voices other folks can’t hear. I think it opens the door to lots of potential embarrassment and misunderstandings, especially when there’s a third party in the conversation. The Adventure Safari theme park was inspired by a local zoo, near where I lived in England, and the amazing underground tunnels beneath Disney’s theme parks.
Tamago: Have any writers influenced your writing style? How about other books?
Jon: If what you read influences you the most, then Terry Pratchett has had a big effect, especially his Guards novels. I love the way he has you laughing one minute, then choking back tears the next.
Tamago: Are any of your characters patterned on people you know, or have known?
Jon: Not intentionally. I like to think I’m a lot like Snowy, but in truth, I’m more like Doctor Euston (Billy’s dad), over-protective, useless at DIY and generally boring. Aggie Cranbrook is a bit like my old gran, except Aggie’s friendly, likes children and can’t fart the alphabet.
Tamago: Why did you decide to write a book for children?
Jon: I wrote Fur-Face for my (then) 10-year-old son, Bill. I figured I was sure to have it published within a couple of years (the Bill in Fur-Face is thirteen) and he’d get a kick out or reading it. Of course, he’s off to college next year, and the book’s only been out a few months, so that plan didn’t quite work out.
Tamago: Do you have a favorite character(s) in the book? Tell us what you like about them.
Jon: Snowy, for sure. He gets a lot of good lines and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. I’m also very fond of Mr. Tinkles, the over-polite gorilla, and Benedict Barnum, the cruel billionaire who wants to use animal mind-control technology to stage bizarre fights-to-the-death in Russia.
Tamago: How do you reconcile your two cultures, British and American, in your writing?
Jon: Soon after I moved here, I realized I would get very confused if I didn’t pick one system and stick to it, so I went with American spelling and format. I also try to avoid words that mean something different in England, like ‘chips’ which are French fries here, but ‘crisps’ in England.
Tamago: What writing are you working on now?
Jon: I’ve got three novels on the go at present: Waking up Jack Thunder, an action/adventure about a shy scientist who gets the brain patterns of a retired CIA agent stuck in his head and ends up on the run from the CIA and a billionaire drug baron; Dead Doris, a contemporary MG fantasy about the ghost of a Victorian child and her not-even-a-bit-dead best friend; and Barnum’s Revenge, the sequel to Fur-Face.
To tell you the truth, the book launch came around so quickly, I got thrown out of the writing rhythm. I’ve only just started to get back into a good writing routine.
Born in England, author and blogger, 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.