Jon Hales, what’s your background, what compelled you to start writing?
I’ve always been interested in literature and studied English at the University of Sussex, England. I’d been dabbling with writing on and off, but it was when I was living in Taiwan teaching English to kindergarten-age kids that I really saw the power of a well written and illustrated children’s book. The capacity for a well crafted turn of phrase, captivating character or hilarious illustration to capture the imagination of its audience was fascinating to me. My goal for my children’s books is to craft stories that bring joy to both children and adults and can be read again and again without losing their charm. I am also in the process of writing a novel that fits in the speculative fiction genre, which is a very different undertaking but also rewarding.
What book from your childhood do you remember the best? Why?
The one that comes to mind immediately is a book called ‘Freddie The Toothbrush Cheat’ which, incidentally, I can find zero record of online! I remember it was written in a way which built tension and anticipation even though it was about a really mundane subject – a boy trying to get out of cleaning his teeth before bed. I would request it at bedtime over and over, and join in with the words which I must have known off by heart. The key to me was its fun, playful tone which encouraged interaction between the reader and listener.
Does writing energize you, or exhaust you?
Both! When you get into a flow and words pour out onto the page it is incredibly energizing. Then, there are the times you sit and stare, write a line, delete it, write another, delete it, make a coffee, bang your head against the wall and contemplate throwing the computer out the window. Those times are exhausting.
What’s your writing Kryptonite?
The internet. Social media. Sunshine. Hunger.
If you didn’t write, what would you do? Or, if writing is not a full-time job, what do you do?
My day job is finding companies that have technologies, solutions and products that will drive us towards a low carbon economy in order to mitigate against climate change. It’s an initiative we run in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme. I would like to dedicate more time to writing and hope to do so in the coming years.
Have you ever Googled yourself? What did you find out that you didn’t already know?
Yes. I found out I am probably the only person to have Googled me. Apart from my mum, of course..
How many half-finished and unpublished books do you have right now?
I have about three half-finished children’s books and one speculative fiction novel that is about a third of the way through.
Mathimals – Written by Jon Hales, Illustrated by Charlene Mosley
What sparked the idea for Mathimals?
Mathimals was conceived as a way to engage kids with basic maths, which can be a really boring / daunting subject. I wanted to sneak the counting concept in there but not make it the main focus, so the learning is happening subconsciously, which I think makes it more effective. I love playing with words so the idea of creating these hybrid animals with names that were fun to say appealed to me.