First of all, a big Happy New Year to everyone... good luck for 2012.
I'm kicking off 2012 with an interview ... a big welcome to Jonathan Fluck, author of T-Bot and Peabody Explore the Zoo
What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?
By day I am a software engineer. I write code for medical devices.
What books have you written so far?
So far I have only one published book – T-Bot and Peabody Explore the Zoo, a narrative non-fiction filled with vibrant photographs of animals in the zoo.
What works in progress do you have?
Currently I am working on book two of the T-Bot and Peabody Explore series, T-Bot and Peabody Explore the Ocean. The story is largely written and the illustrations are... well... coming along.
How long did it take you to write your book/s?
For me the writing came quickly, not to mention it’s only a 20-page children’s book. I’d have to say that it took about 2 months to write and get it to a point that I was really happy with the flow of the story. I also do the illustrations and that took significantly longer.
Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
My writing starts with a scene. I doodle out a scene, write the story for that scene, then build the scene and story before and after it. Once that is all done and my thoughts are on paper, I rewrite the story from the beginning, this time focusing on the flow. This approach helps me get my thoughts on paper before I forget them and allows me to rearrange them to get it just right. Now that I’m explaining it, this sounds both confusing and a little crazy, but it works for me and for the stories I write.
Why do you write?
I write because I enjoy bringing boring facts to inquisitive children in a fun and memorable way. I want to spark the interest of the reader and help create a lifelong amazement and admiration of nature, and the world around them. I also write because I love illustrating. I know that a love of illustrating should spark a career of illustrating, but for me it opened up the whole prospect of writing a story and creating the images to go with it.
How long have you been writing?
Honestly, about a year. I am a software engineer, I have a degree in engineering and I love math. Writing was never something I thought of doing. It was not something I thought I would enjoy. It wasn’t until my son asked me to make up a bedtime story for him that I even thought about writing. Once I told him the story and saw how much he enjoyed it, I wanted to make it tangible to him.
Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?
I carry with me at all times an Android tablet running my favourite app, EverNote. When an idea pops into my head I work with it for a bit, forming it into a full and complete thought, and then I make a voice note in EverNote, and then usually in the evening I type it out and continue to work on it.
Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
None of them. The two main characters from the T-Bot and Peabody Explore series are based on my two sons. I try to keep their questions, actions and interests rooted in the personalities of my sons.
What / who inspired you to write and still inspires you?
If it weren’t for my son’s bedtime request, I never would have started down this path. The characters, T-Bot and Peabody, are based on my two sons. T-Bot is based on my oldest son and Peabody is based on my youngest. My two sons started me down the writer’s path, but I start new adventures all the time – it’s finishing them that is an amazing feat and had it not been for the encouragement and help of my wife, Karen, T-Bot and Peabody would have remained an oral story that never made it outside of our house.
What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?
In my stories, I try to make sure I have a healthy blend of facts and humour. In the fictional stories that I read, I love stories that have twists and turns – something to really make you think and pay attention.
Have you ever based a character on someone from real life?
T-Bot is based on my oldest son and Peabody is based on my youngest.
Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song?
Favourite animal would have to be the gorilla – they seem to have such strength and yet seem very docile. Favourite food would be fruit – any kind – I love it. Drink: coffee – nothing better than hot black coffee. Blue is my favourite colour. I have an eclectic taste in music. I’m going through a Black Eyed Peas phase right now, but I can’t neglect At The Drive In and Social Distortion.
You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…
1984 by George Orwell
Thief in the Botanical Gardens by Diane Redfield Massie
The Universe in a Nutshell by Steven Hawking
Evolution or Creation by Albert DeBenedictis
Who is your favourite character from any book and why?
The Count Of Monte Cristo. Let’s put aside the fact that Edmund Dantes, the count, was out for revenge and focus instead on this – he was presented with an insurmountable problem, he made a plan and followed it through.
Which book do you wish you had written?
The Cat in the Hat. I wish I wrote The Cat in the Hat. Dr Seuss created worlds that have changed the lives of generations by aiding the young and the old in creating a deep, lifelong, love of reading. He told entertaining stories with whimsical characters that spark the imagination.
Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?
Alexander Dumas, he is an amazing writer. I’m in awe every time I read The Count of Monte Cristo. The story is so complex that I don’t know how he wrote it. Mark Twain would be a blast. I’d love to sit down and chat with him, and hear all of his sarcasm and wit. Finally, on my authors night at the pub, I’d have to invite Edgar Allen Poe. I love his stories and poems, and think it’d be very interesting to meet him.
Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
I am self-published. I believe that I can do anything and I’m a control freak, so I thought self-publishing would be a good fit for me. Things are what I expected. The more work you put in, the better the results... and it takes a lot of work.
How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers?
Honestly it has been good. I enjoy the challenge of finding low-cost, high-yield marketing. I enjoy all the people I’ve met, and I’m grateful that one piece of my marketing helps charities and libraries with little or no funding.
--- Oooh what's that? More info please!
Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
I do not have a blog. I think blogs are marvellous and in the right hands they are one of the greatest tools. However, I get very distracted very easily and I think if I started to write a blog, I would spend too much time getting followers for my blog, and lose out on time writing and marketing my books.
What other hobbies do you have?
I love writing, I love graphic design, I love ‘family time’, and I love paintball.
What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
International fame and fortune! Just kidding, well, not really, but I don’t think that is a reality so I will stick with this: in the next five years I hope the T-Bot and Peabody Explore series becomes successful, I hope to travel and photograph for the books, I hope to turn it into a cartoon. I also hope to start a new series called T-Bot and Peabody Imagine, which would be a series re-telling fairytales and childhood stories, replacing the original characters with T-Bot and Peabody.
If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?
After paying off my bills, I would start an animation studio and I would hire the best 3D artists the world has ever known, and we would make films and TV shows that put Pixar and Aardman to shame.
Please complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…
1. There was once a wee worm called Fred…
2. In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest...
3. One day Charlotte decided she was going to change the world...
One day Charlotte decided she was going to change the world. She took a long look at herself. She saw her talents, strengths and her weaknesses, and attacked the world’s problems with ferocity. It took more fortitude and determination than she had, but she rose to the challenge, and her love and determination forever changed the world.
What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?
Question: Where can people go to learn more about you and your stories?
Answer: For more information about T-Bot and Peabody, ‘like’ our Facebook page (facebook.com/TBotAndPeabodyExplore). Here you will get T-Bot and Peabody news, updates, educational/parenting info, colouring pages and more. You could also check out some of our upcoming book projects on Kickstarter (http://kck.st/w1yVvh) where you can play a major role in getting our next book to the publisher. Of course you can follow me (@JonathanFluck) and T-Bot and Peabody (@TBotAndPeabody) on Twitter.