JOHN PRIEST: CHILDREN’S BOOKS NEED A GREAT DEAL OF THOUGHT
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
John Priest released his last book The Curse of Sea Shell Cave last March. It’s a story about Junior Private Investigators, who had a new mission.
Our next feature guest started with writing in 1985. Some of his works were published in national magazines. John Priest is a specialist in kids’ novels. We had a chance to meet him for a nice chat.
– John, what is your last book The Curse of Sea Shell Cave about?
– The Curse of Sea Shell Cave is the second in my detective series starring the Junior Private Investigators or JPIs. They are on holiday at the seaside when strange and mysterious things start occurring. The four detectives need to solve this mystery urgently because lives are in imminent danger.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– After writing the first in the series, Junior Private Investigators aka Jay-Pea-Eyes in The Boomerang Mystery, I needed another whodunit for the JPIs to get their teeth into and this story had everything; shipwrecks, secret passageways and treasure.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– If possible I like to visit a place that resembles the idea and story I have in my mind. I found this in Portsmouth, UK. This for me creates believable scenes and therefore a better book.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– My main characters are four young school friends; two sisters and two boys who live just metres away from each other. The Boomerang Mystery allowed them to work together and solve a very strange mystery faster than the grown ups.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I would say that it took around six months from start to publication.
– Tell us more about your most popular book Little Miss Straight Tail?
– Little Miss Straight Tail is a story written for parents to read to babies at bedtime and also targeted at children just starting to read, up to the age of 5 years. Little Miss Straight Tail is born with a perfectly straight tail and tries everything to make it curly, from curling tongues to hair rollers! Does it stay curly? You’ll have to read the book!
– What are your other stories that have not yet been published? Share some insight about them?
– I have too many completed stories to put down here:-)
I have stories for children, some Christmas related, some that have a moral and others that will help children who have to go the doctors and who might be afraid.
My other books are horror/thrillers written for adults. I have also just completed a Sci-Fi screenplay.
I have new stories in my head more or less every day, it’s just having time to get them onto paper.
– Who are you?
– Who am I? That’s a good question! I am one of seven children, born in England, UK. I have worked in many roles and industries, from building, licensing, assessing, tutor and trainer and obviously writing. I have been married for 35 years and have two daughters who are married and have given my wife and I three beautiful grandkids.
– What are your writing habits?
– I like to get an idea and play around with it in my head. It stays there until it can’t wait to burst out, onto a page. I resist the temptation to use a computer at this time. What I do (I know it might sound crazy) but I like to go and buy an A5 writing pad, the most unusual one I can find. I know that this particular pad is for this story only. I also have a collection of fountain pens. I sit in my office, slowly fill up my fountain pen and then open the writing pad and start writing. It helps too if I set alarms on my phone so that every 60 minutes it rings and I can review my progress and either push on or go and get a cup of tea.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book?
– I’ve been a traditionally published author since the 1980’s, so when I started out on the ‘indie’ route I didn’t set my goals too high but concentrated on building my social networks, so currently I am very happy with how everything is progressing.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I promote my books every way I can think of. I love to use competitions and offer my books free on my website. I have also started advertising in my local area, through shops and churches who normally have a monthly pamphlet which churchgoers will normally read. This kind of advertising is reasonably priced too.
Most of my marketing recently has been done through blog sites such as yours, which I appreciate greatly.
– When we will see your next novel?
– The Junior Private Investigators will be looking into another mystery soon; the idea for the third book is fermenting in my brain as we speak!
First though I need to market my latest screenplay, which will take a few months.
– How different is to write children books compared to other novels?
– There are people who think writing for children is easy, but I have written for many age groups and most children’s books have to be geared towards a certain age group or key stage group. They need the correct number of letters in the right type of words and have a certain sentence length. For me, children’s books need a great deal of thought and you have a duty to give children the correct messages so that their minds and character can grow properly.
– What is the most memorable reaction or a feedback by kid, who read your book?
– I enjoy visiting schools and libraries to show how books are made and what is involved in the writing process. I just enjoy seeing and listening to the children. It’s the excitement on their faces that make writing such an enjoyable and fulfilling career.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– My question would be the one that I’ve asked myself for many, many years – Why do you write? And the answer? I don’t really know! Who would write for hours on end, spend money they can ill afford to on writing equipment, writing courses, postage etc., etc., not knowing if anything will ever get published?
I have to answer like this: If there’s something in you, telling you to write or maybe you have an idea that you need to put onto paper, just do it! The success and the satisfaction is really what you yourself make it. If you enjoy it, believe in yourself and just do it!
Take a look at his books
The Curse of Sea Shell Cave
The Boomerang Mystery: Jay-Pea-Eyes aka Junior Private Investigators; Detective Mystery Series Book 1
Lighthouse: Year 1 Blue – Answer the Phone, Fiona
Storyworlds Bridges Stage 10 Tom’s Birthday Treat 6 Pack
Little Miss Straight Tail
Peter Challenge – Time Surfer