Thursday, 15 January 2015

Author Interview at Not Compulsory (Jon Mayhew)

Today (15 January 2015) sees the publication of the rip-roaring teenage read entitled The Curse of the Ice Serpent by author, Jon Mayhew. Published by Bloomsbury.

author photograph- Jon Mayhew

I recently engaged in a Question & Answer session with Jon Mayhew for publication here at Not Compulsory. You can read the interview below (to the right is Jon pictured in a staged photograph setting).

QUESTION: I realise there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to writing fiction, but do you feel you are entering your own adventure when you write, or, as a teacher, are you quite structured in your approach?

JON MAYHEW: I’m pretty structured in that I do plan out each chapter and like to know where the story is heading and how it will end. However, once I’m into an action scene or a crucial part of the story, I do get lost in it and the story can change. I just adjust my plan!

QUESTION: I recognise that the quality of my own writing dips when I work in the twilight hours; it’s a common question between writers but I would really be interested to know if you have a particular time in the day that you are more creative and have more ideas?

JON MAYHEW: Not really. I tend to write during the day, not in the evenings. Sometimes when I’m in full flow, I write on. I try to leave my writing on a cliffhanger or appealing scene so I come back to it excited and raring to go!

QUESTION: I think I might know the answer to this question, but can you tell me which aspect of the writing, the publishing world and the public facing work do you most enjoy?

JON MAYHEW: Alan Bennett divides ‘Writing’ from ‘Being a Writer.’ The first bit is getting the actual words on the page, on your own, then the editing etc. The second bit is meeting the readers. I love getting the words down and telling the story for the first time. I do like meeting readers and talking to school groups too. If I lived inside my head day-in, day-out, I’d be impossible to live with!

QUESTION: Now I am going to reverse my last question/ and ask you what it is that you find to be the most daunting?

JON MAYHEW: Probably the redrafting once the first draft is down. When you first tell your story, it seems like the best thing ever. Then you notice the flaws and imperfections and you know you’re going to have to rewrite it. Groan!

QUESTION: As a child you enjoyed comic book drawing and sketching. Do you illustrate your work at all? Have you any desire to produce a graphic novel?

JON MAYHEW: My drawing ability is very limited and there are people out there who are so much more talented and skilled. I wish I could draw, maybe I would. I’d love to write a graphic novel of Monster Odyssey, though, I think it would suit that medium very well.

QUESTION: Dakkar is the main character of all three of your Monster Odyssey books. What was it about the Jules Verne’s character, Captain Nemo that was the trigger for you to include him, in his youth, in the form of Dakkar?

The trigger was a flaw I noticed in Verne’s explanation of why Nemo built the Nautilus. He says that Nemo lost his wife and child in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and this drove him to hate mankind, build a submarine and live under the sea for the rest of his life. I wondered where he got the knowhow to build a submarine, and I also thought that a deep-seated mistrust of mankind would already have to be in place for him to turn his back on mankind. He is a hot-head, surely he would have sought revenge. So I assumed other things had happened to him when he was younger. Verne tells us only that between the ages of 10 and 30, Dakkar went to Europe for an education. Lots of scope there for the story to unfold.

QUESTION: MONSTER ODYSSEY are categorised as fantasy adventure stories, they include fearsome monsters and a young man on a mission and are set in the 19th century. In your view, who is the main reader audience for these books?

JON MAYHEW: Probably me when I was a teenager. I deliberately included Georgia Fulton as his companion because I didn’t want the books to be classified as ‘for boys.’ I know for a fact that Dakkar has quite a loyal female following too!

QUESTION: The intriguing interest for readers of your latest novel ‘The Curse of the Ice Serpent’ is the inclusion of the bizarre combination of a ship that can fly, namely Nautilus. Did you always have intention to bring it to life in your master plan for the series?

JON MAYHEW: Yes, Verne wrote a lot about amazing journeys, whether that was to the centre of the Earth, or flying around the world, to the poles or even to the moon. Hopefully, I reflect that a little in the books.

QUESTION: I must congratulate you on your title three title choices of the Monster Odyssey books ‘The Eye of Neptune’ ‘The Wrath of the Lizard Lord’ and, of course, ‘The Curse of the Ice Serpent’, they have the feel of the Victorian Melodrama about them. I’m sure these books will not stop at a trilogy, are you able to release any news and future intentions in relation to these reads?

JON MAYHEW: The fourth book is with my lovely editor as we speak and sees the culmination of this particular story arc. Deserts, scorpions and other creepy-crawlies is all I’ll say!

QUESTION: You’ve done a number of school and library talks in recent years. What is the most memorable question you’ve been asked?

JON MAYHEW: I’m always available for school and library visits! One boy, once asked me if I’d ever had a fight! He looked a bit taken aback when I said, ‘yes, but it ended badly.’ I think sometimes students imagine authors come from rarefied backgrounds and didn’t go through the rough and tumble of normal school life.


Many thanks, Jon - good luck with it all and best wishes!


My business (TSS) is currently hosting a competition. The prize consists of 1 x copy of The Curse of the Ice Serpent by Jon Mayhew, plus another Bloomsbury title (also released today) called Apolcalypse Bow Wow (a graphic novel for children from 9 years +) by author James Proimos III. It is easy to enter - Details here 

You can purchase either of these new titles in Paperback below, and in ebook form at Amazon

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