Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? How did you start writing and directing for TV?
I've always wanted to communicate and often told stories as a youngster. I had some natural aptitude in spelling, reading and vocabulary but didn't enjoy reading. I used to make animated GI Joe films with an 8mm spring wound Bell & Howell and loved photography. When I became a believer, I began to feel dissatisfied with using the arts for mere entertainment. I longed for some greater purpose but struggled for years to understand what to do about it.
Wow, Jon you are a man of many talents writer, producer and director. Which of these to you enjoy the most? Why?
Writer. As a writer I get to write, produce and direct my stories in one sense. I've usually taken on the role of producer and director in order to preserve, or remain true to, what I write.
From your website I could see you are starting to break out into many different areas of writing. You currently have a book out called Storm Warrior, you’ve written a beautiful and fun devotional book for kids and you will have a youth series out this summer, what has been the most fun to write? What has been the most challenging?
My children love the youth series, which incidentally lost its book deal due to the current publishing climate, though I expect it to bounce back. It is a sentimental favorite since it's been with me the longest--over 15 years, however, the Storm Warriors books have proven to be the most inspiring and career shaping. The kid's concordance was challenging because of handling the scriptures and not wanting to do so incorrectly. You don't want to misquote God. It was painstaking at times to check, double check and triple check.
How is preparing for a book different than preparing to write a TV script? What do you like most about writing in these very different areas?
Book writing is more intuitive for me though most people feel my novel writing reads quite visually, like a script. Script formats are cumbersome for me. They are like blueprints intended to represent something that will be seen and heard, not read. I prefer to watch movies and write books. Books take me months. Scripts take me weeks.
How did you come up with the idea to write Storm Warriors? Was that the working title? If not what was the name you originally had for the book.
I was in an old barn in upstate NY looking through old books. I was searching for a book that might contain nautical terminology that could help me write my youth series. I came across John Gilmore's 1875 nonfiction book, Storm Warriors. I bought it as a reference tool but found myself basking in his wonderfully long sentences and ultra-passionate descriptions of real rescues at sea that took place at the dawn of the invention of the lifeboat. His chronicles lingered in my imagination for a long time but it was his comment that we might never know what motivated Lionel Lukin that inspired me to repeatedly ask myself a crucial question: what does it take for any of us to launch our lifeboats? It was that meditation that led to the writing of this version which I titled the same as Gilmore's.
Did you have a say so in the cover for Storm Warrior? Can you tell me how the cover for this book came about?
I had a different cover in mind. I wanted a lifeboat full of men struggling in a gale with one man reaching into the sea to clasp the hand of a distraught woman holding her child. I wanted a log line, under the title, that read: For everyone who ever wanted to save anyone...but was afraid. I thought it would appeal to men and women and speak to something we all feel. I made the suggestion but was overruled by a marketing department.
Can you give us a glimpse into the next book in the series? I loved the first book Storm Warrior do tell what we can look forward to reading next?
The next book, tentatively titled Storm Survivors, is something I'm hoping to rename, With Hearts Courageous. Storm Warriors is plot-driven action but this second book, though rife with action, is a much deeper character study. It has a dash of Jane Austen since it involves some upper crust society. It's meant to encourage everyone who thinks their dream is dead. It's sobering but ultimately heartening and moves on a deeper level than the first.
How do you prepare to write for a topic like Storm Warrior? What was the most surprising fact you found out in your research?
Read, read, read. I sought to learn as much about 1800s Ramsgate as my time permitted. I was surprised to find out that a man actually tied a lantern to a horse's tail to wreck a ship. Some have wondered if I made that up. I didn't.
What was your favorite scene in Storm Warrior to write? What was you most difficult? Why?
I enjoyed so many scenes that I'm not sure I have a favorite. Some of my favorite moments were Gilmore at Lukin's factory, Lionel in church and Mr. and Mrs. Gilmore in the pub. The placing of each in unfamiliar environments was great fun to develop. The most difficult was the reunion of Lionel and his family. I'm still not convinced I succeeded in capturing the emotion of that moment.
Is being an author been everything you thought it would be? If not what has surprised you?
I love authoring and it's in process of unfolding so it's premature to say whether it's all I imagined. I'm still expecting more. What has surprised me most is the realities of the Christian publishing business--in some instances, it's not as spiritual as I had imagined.
Can you tell me about a wow moment for you since you have been published? What made it a wow moment for you?
A couple of wows include: when a reader from Australia contacted me and turned out to be a descendant of Lukin; when I first saw my books on the shelves of Barnes & Noble in a distant state; and when I discovered via the internet that seven copies of Storm Warriors had been checked out of multiple libraries in Minnesota. Cool.
Out of all the interviews you have done is there a question that you wished someone would have asked you but didn’t? If so, what is that question and what is your answer?
Why did I write Storm Warriors? Ultimately, it was not to become a published author. It was not to make millions of dollars. Neither was it to see if it might become a movie. I honestly wrote it because I wanted people to feel what it feels like to break out of indifference, launch into storms and rescue those in trouble. I believed it could inspire ordinary folks to dare extraordinary and selfless things. I hope it does.
QUESTIONS YOU REALLY WANTED TO ASK JON BUT DIDN’T, SO I DID!! :D
If you had all the time in the world (& just as much money); to do anything you wanted, what would you do?
I'd get the full and exclusive use of all of Disney World for me, my family, and my friends for as many days as we want until we've totally exhausted ourselves of ever wanting to go again.
Why? I have four wonderful children who unceasingly ask me to take them.
They have invented a machine that can change one thing about you?
First of all would you use the machine?
Second what would be the one thing you’d change? Not telling.
What would that change look like? Still not telling!
(THANKS for your honesty Jon - I have to say you CRACK ME UP- I LOVE how you answered thsi question!! )
You’ve just found a magic lamp and a genie is going to grant you three wishes. What would those wishes be?
1) To never upset my editor with my comma placement ever again!
2) For voice recognition software that works as fast as I can speak!
3) For more than three wishes.
You have to be a superhero for 48 hours who would you be and why?
Aquaman because I love the sea - plus, I could stay in the water so nobody could see me in those tights. You are the author here you can mix and match powers and costumes. Ha!
What is a special quality, talent or event you have experienced that would surprise people? Please explain.
I USED to sing opera.
You have to be on a TV Reality show? Which one would you pick and why?
Extreme Makeover - Home Edition. It makes so many people so happy.
What movie most impacted you as a kid?
Why? I wanted to save the Universe.
What were your favorite TV shows growing up?You know the ones that you just couldn’t miss each week.
Popeye, Lil Rascals, Flash Gordon, the Flintstones, the Rifleman and Jonny Quest.
If you had 48 hours to hang out with anyone dead or alive in the history of the world; who would you pick and what would you do?
Other than God, I assume. Hmmm. Benjamin Franklin. I'd take him to a Radio Shack, a Sharper Image store and the Smithsonian Institute to watch him marvel and drool.
Given the most recent gas situation we’ve gone through and people are coming up with creative ideas to get around which of the following ways would you want to get around? Do you have a better idea for travel? Do tell?
I want to mount up with the wings of eagles and fly. I wouldn't really want the feathers but the flying part would be a thrill.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS YOU’D LIKE MY READERS WITH??
Thanks for taking an interest in Storm Warriors. I look forward to meeting with you and others soon. All His best to all of you!
One more thing I'd like to share with your readers. I've included a brief blurb about SWI simply for your information. I hope it excites you. It's part of a widespread email blast planned for later in the year. We'll be looking to get as many Storm Warriors-in-waiting as possible (sometimes called Storm Watchers). Basically, these are people who sign up to receive via email periodic (well-written) articles about storms around the world in need of aid or relief (told in engaging style and treated graphically). This way people can be informed should they ever want to choose how, if, when, or where to help. There will also be links for people wanting to plug in by helping existing organizations already working in the various storms. Most exciting will be the forums in which people like you and me from all over the world can communicate any ideas or strategies on how relief might be accomplished where no help yet exists. It's all designed to awaken the planet to becoming Storm Warriors and utilizing our gifts, callings and talents as lifeboats to bring relief and rescue to those caught in the storms of life (which can be any kind). Let me know what you think.
For those interested in receiving the articles can send their e-mail addresses plus request to: email@example.com
There is no cost or obligation to sign up.
THANKS Jon for hanging out with me and letting my readers get to know you better. The Store Warrior site you mentioned sounds really fascinating. I really apprecaite you sharing that information. I look forward to meeting you in October at book club in Atlanta.
Blessings on your writing adventures friend; See you soon!
LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THE INTERVIEW FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A FREE BOOK!! DRAWING WILL BE JULY 15th.
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CONGRADULATIONS KIM FORD YOU ARE THE WINNER OF STORM WARRIOR!! I know you are going to LOVE this book and become a big fan of Jon's other books.