Introducing Jo Barker, one of the funniest authors I've ever met.
Hi, Jo, tell us something about yourself.
Well, I’m a twentysomething chocoholic, bookaholic and water baby. I grew up by the sea so I love being in, on or around water. Of course, chocolate and books always go hand in hand as well.
How true, Jo, I love chocolate too, but try not to eat it. I also love water and have mostly lived near it. I believe we get energy from the sea. Now, when did you decide to become an author?
I didn’t really decide to become an author. My other half suggested, nay, insisted that I published. I hid away my writing from people, but he stumbled upon it and encouraged me to write. I still consider myself an apprentice to becoming an author.
What a great partner to do that. Mine is the same. We're very lucky to have their support as I know many authors don't, and that can cause problems.
What inspired to you to be a writer, Jo?
I just love to write. I used to have some crazy dreams that seemed quite entertaining to write down. I also love the lyricism that can come with language and writing, words are something I enjoy playing with. The lyricism aspect might have something to do with the fact that I love listening to music, almost any music. Writing to a rhythm can be quite helpful, although a tad strange when you’re not actually listening to any music.
I understand that, Jo. I really enjoy music and love writing songs for the characters in my children's books. They have to rhyme to a rhythm in my head, though I've never learned music. I think some folks like you and me are born with that.
Where do you sit when writing?
I write on a laptop so anywhere fairly quiet where I can shut out the world for a mo. Unfortunately the world always has a way of intruding.
It sure does and can be frustrating, especially when in a creative mood.
How many hours per week would you spend on writing?
If I could, I would probably spend all my time writing. As it stands, I write mainly in the evenings or an hour or two during the day if I can grab a chance.
What genre do you write and why?
Well I’m actually genre greedy. My first book is a children’s book. However I am working on a fantasy novel as well as another children’s story. I also have quite a few ideas that spread over a range of genres. Perhaps one day I'll settle down with a genre and be happy with it, until then I shall continue to explore.
That's fantastic that you can write in different genres, Jo. I prefer children's books and fantasy, but would love to do adult and Y/A too.
How do you come up with characters and stories?
The characters and stories tend to come together. I have no idea how I think up what I do, the brain is a mystery to me. Generally I literally dream them up, my brain has apparently got a very strange way of working things out when I’m sleeping.
Sometimes a phrase or something from my surroundings can set me on a creative spree. I suspect if I knew the answer to how people generated ideas the scientific community would be knocking down my door.
When you're sleeping? That's fantastic, Jo. I think up ideas while I'm bush walking.
Do you have any favourite authors, and have any inspired your work?
When I was growing up it was Roald Dahl and Robin Jarvis. Later came Terry Pratchett. I love the quirky and grotesque and the utterly bizarre things in life. If you enjoy reading, it certainly helps when it comes to writing. My early reads have definitely rubbed off on me.
How funny. We have a lot in common, Jo. Roald Dahl is my favourite author too. He inspired me to be myself when writing. My Rascals series is gross, full of mischievous children and horrid adults. Oh, plus it's true memories of me as a child. LOL. Has anything dramatic in your life given you an idea for a story?
I would say yes, things in life do affect you and your outlook on life and would therefore affect your writing. Although off the top of my head I can’t think of an example to share.
Now that you’re published, how do you market your work?
Largely word of mouth and social media. I have been strapped for time recently so I haven’t been able to put as much effort as I should into it.
Who is your favourite character?
My favourite all-time character in literature has to be Matilda, she was my role model when growing up. My favourite character creation to date has to be a feisty warrioress, whos name I shall keep under wraps pro tem. I haven’t finished her story yet, it’s something I have worked on off an on for a few years and I've grown quite attached to her. In the Adventures of the Frog Prince the spider is my favourite for his pure cheek.
How funny. Matilda is my favourite too because I related to her. Though I was no genius like her, quite the opposite, but I did have a teacher like Mrs Trunchbull. I really did.
How did you come up with the setting for your stories?
With the Frog Prince it felt right that it should be set in castle. It’s based on a fairy tale after all, and what’s a fairy tale without a castle of some nature?
What a great cover, Jo! And your artwork is fabulous. I'm about to read this book, can't wait.
Is being a published author harder or easier than you imagined?
Not sure quite what I imagined, so I can’t say either way really. I didn’t think I would get quite so into blogging though.
I wish I wish I wish I was better at art.
I'm sure you're better than you think, Jo. I love doing my own illustrations. The more I draw, the better it becomes. Though time can be a problem. I find drawing relaxing and now I've learned to draw on the computer, which I love.
What are you working on at the moment?
A children’s book and a fantasy novel, I should be able to reveal details about the children’s book in the not to distant, but for now I’m still keeping it under wraps.
What are your plans for the future?
Oh you know, the usual, find a nice sandy beach somewhere with plenty of surf, no sharks or jellyfish and stay there. I shall surround myself with books, pens, and paper. Someone has promised to have a mai tai waiting for me. Not sure what’s in a mai tai, but I’m looking forward to trying one.
Now, I know you have a YouTube Channel because I found you on there too. I thought your fairy film was hilarious.
Where is your You Tube channel?
Yes, Trish, I do. It's called: The Ian and Jo Show. It’s made up of the strange things my other half and I dream up in our spare time.
Yes, and they are well worth a look. They're quite entertaining and very funny. Here is a link to Jo's book: The Adventures of The Frog Prince
Jo's Website: Here