The Interview: Bookbag Talks To John Jackson

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To John Jackson


Summary: Jill fell in love with Tales for Great Grandchildren and couldn't resist asking author John Jackson a few questions when he popped in to see us.
Date: 21 November 2012
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill fell in love with Tales for Great Grandchildren and couldn't resist asking author John Jackson a few questions when he popped in to see us.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

John Jackson: First of all I see a deep sapphire sky full of stars. I believe my readers are on those stars and I visit them - star by star. This takes quite a long time and usually happens when I am half-awake about 5 in the morning.

  • BB: We love myth and legend here at Bookbag. Roger Lancelyn Green was Jill's favourite author as a child, and she still returns to read him now. How relevant is the folk canon to children in the 21st century?

JJ: I think that a 'child' lives on in every one of us and that, consequently, the folk canon addresses something that lives on in every one of us. That is why the stories that we call 'children's stories' are 'fundamental' and important.

  • BB: Tell us about your interest in digital delivery. We have been quite disappointed by the level of engagement by the main publishing houses and we think your apps are a wonderful companion to the book. What made you decide to take this step?

JJ: I have just completed 60 years in the world of business and during the whole of that time I have been involved directly and indirectly in helping with the adoption of new technologies for the benefit of ordinary people in our ordinary world.

  • BB: And what pitfalls and pleasures were involved in producing the app?

JJ: I had first class professional help in producing the app from Digital Leaf so there were no pitfalls and the pleasure came from a surge of creativity.

  • BB: Tales for Great Grandchildren is a real treasure, both in terms of the content and the book's physical production. Tell us about the challenge involved in publishing such a richly produced book.

JJ: I am delighted that you believe the book is a 'real treasure'. I think the challenge was very similar to that confronting a painter who is faced with a blank canvass and the need to transfer on to that canvass the picture which is formed in his mind.

  • BB: If you had to pick a favourite story from the book, which one would it be?

JJ: If I had to pick a favourite story, it would be that titled 'Lovely One'. The reason for this is that it is the one story which came entirely from within 'me'. All the other stories echo tales and themes which have turned up in different parts of the world over a very long time.

  • BB: Where and how do you write?

JJ: I write at my kitchen table in the small hours of the morning when everybody else have gone to bed. I scribble down ideas and images as they come into my mind and these, when sorted out, are set down on my laptop screen at any time over the following days.

  • BB: What three books should every child read?

JJ: There are many books that I would like every child to read but if I had to choose three, they would be The House at Pooh Corner, The Wind in the Willows and The Just So stories.

  • BB: What would be your Desert Island book?

JJ: My Desert Island book would be The Old Testament. It is full of the most marvellous stories and poetry. Very many years ago, when I taught a class of ten year old boys, I used Latin to teach them the discipline of language and the Old Testament to teach them the poetry of language.

  • BB: What's next for John Jackson and JJ Books?

JJ: I (JJ Books) will publish next – probably in the spring – a trilogy name 'Brahma Dreaming'. The three sections – Tales of Creation, Tales of Destruction and Tales of Preservation are all based on the mythology of the Hindus. It will be illustrated by Daniela in black and white. I have been very fortunate to meet Daniela. She has a huge talent and although her work in colour is beautiful, her work in black and white is more than beautiful and reflects the influence of both Beardsley and Rackham. I think she may come to be regarded as one of the 'great' illustrators.

  • BB: We look forward to seeing those books, John and thank you for talking to us.

You can find our more about John Jackson here.

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