Facebook: Joy Jones
1. When you were my age (11), did you like to read? I’ve been a reader since – well since before I was able to read! My parents would read bedtime stories to me when I was little and I loved that. I was so excited when I was able to read for myself. The first book I ever read was called Tip and was about a dog with brown tip on his tail. I cornered my father and made him listen to me read the story over and over and over and over… When I was around 11, I was big into the Nancy Drew stories. And I loved Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.
2. What is a book that made an impact on you? To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee made an impact; I thought it would have a happier outcome for one of the characters. Same for The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. These books surprised me and I was sorry for the characters who didn’t get a sunshine-and-light conclusion to their stories, but sometimes life has a sad or unfair side and kids need to know that.
3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas? Coming up with ideas is easy; ideas are everywhere. The hard part is getting it all down on paper. People are always coming up to me offering what they think is a fabulous idea for a book and they expect me to write it all down and turn it into an instant best-seller. They don’t realize that composing a book is a long, slow process that takes a lot of work. Or maybe they do realize it which is why they want me to do it for them.
Writing Jayla Jumps In wasn’t my idea. A colleague suggested that I write about Double Dutch since I had actually started a Double Dutch team. As the founder and the person who did all the promoting of the team, I felt like I didn’t have anything more to say about Double Dutch. But after thinking about it, I decided to give it a try. And what do you know – it worked out! So sometimes it does pay to listen to the ideas others present to you.
4. Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of? There are two performance poets workin’ it in the area where I live, Washington, DC, who I enjoy – Bomani Armah and John Johnson. I just finished reading Patricia’s Vision; The Doctor Who Saved Sight by Michelle Lord and Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome, both picture books that tell about a slice of history in an engaging way. Adjoa Burrowes has lots of beautiful books, (she’s an author and illustrator) my favorite is Grandma’s Purple Flowers. I especially enjoyed Cornelia Funke’s book, The Thief Lord. I got depressed as I got close to the ending because I didn’t want the story to be over.
5. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read a lot and write a lot. Keep a journal; it strengthens the habit of writing on a regular basis. Journaling also helps you to get to know yourself better. And don’t look at rejection as – well, rejection. It’s not personal. It’s just one more step on the road to publication. And don’t hate me for saying this, but – put the phone down! The cell, the computer, the TV, the video games – cut if off from time to time. It will free up your imagination when you give yourself a break from all that electronic entertainment.
6. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? I like it when someone thinks about a subject in a different way after reading what I’ve wrote. I especially like it when they tell me I’ve put into words an idea they have been thinking but didn’t know how to express. I also feel gratified when someone is inspired to do their own writing or take action as a result of my words. Last year, one of my former students (I used to teach writing to middle schoolers) told me she was motivated to buy one of those black-and-white composition books and fill it up after reading my Fearless Public Speaking book. She had been one of my star performers in the poetry slam team I coached. Now, she’s a grown woman with a job and kids of her own and had let her writing slide. But my book brought back memories of how much she enjoyed writing so she started up again. Knowing that I played a part in her rediscovering a part of herself that she loves thrilled me.
7. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be? When I first read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, I actually tried exploring my bedroom closet to see if I could make it into Narnia. Even though rummaging through my cluttered closet is an adventure, I have yet to find the portal to Narnia.