More About the Author
Mom's Choice Award winning author, Jason Edwards is a man of many hats, including storyteller, developer and performer of children's programs, father, coach, and athlete. Mr. Edwards is also an authority on children's anxieties, possessing a B.S. in Psychology, a M.A. in Education, and more than 20 years of experience helping children. In fact, he wrote his first chapter book for young readers, "Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective", which is a frightfully funny mix of "Ghostbusters" and "Monsters Inc.", in order to help children overcome phobias by inspiring them to confront their fears and metaphorically modeling steps they can take to control anxiety.
Jason has performed his entertaining educational programs at over 100 schools and libraries all over the country. His wildly popular Monster Hunt and Destination: INSPIRATION programs, his gift for teaching and inspiring children, and his talent for illuminating anxiety issues for children and adults alike, have been featured across the nation in newspapers and on radio, TV, and the internet.
Jason lives in New York with his wife and two daughters. When not performing his programs at schools and libraries, he is busy working on the next volume in his Chronicles of the Monster Detective Agency series, and remains active in athletics, community service, and education.
A Brief Author Interview with Jason Edwards
How did you get started as a writer?
I've always liked to write, but for much of my life, I wrote only for self-expression and my own amusement. It was kind of like singing in the shower, minus having to shake water out of your ears. Then, when my daughter was born, I made up stories to amuse her. I didn't actually set out to be an author until I was inspired to do so by a toilet.
Yes, you read that right - a toilet.
Allow me to explain. At the age of 4, my eldest daughter developed a powerful anxiety when she was traumatized by the roar of a loud, automatic toilet that flushed repeatedly while she was sitting on it. I wanted to help her develop the ability to confront her fears, so I created a world in which the characters learn to do that.
In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
A little of both. The main ideas, themes, and key points for a book usually strike like a bolt of lightning, but then it takes time to percolate and develop them into a coherent piece of work.
Give us an idea of the plot of your books without giving too much away.
"Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective" is the story of a boy beset by fears that have literally come to life and how, with some very special help from the Great Monster Detective, he learns to conquer them. Its sequel, "Will Allen and the Ring of Terror", picks up where the first book leaves off, with Will becoming a monster detective himself and working to solve his first case. But he quickly discovers that he still has a lot to learn, and needs plenty of help from his best friend and partner, Jeannine Fitsimmons, to solve the case and defeat the monster. His adventures continue in the newly released third volume, "Will Allen and the Hideous Shroud".
What is the primary message you'd like your readers to take away from this book?
Face your fears, or they will take over your life. And wash behind your ears (well, that one isn't actually in the book, but I just thought I'd throw it in there anyway).
What was the most difficult scene to write, and why?
The most difficult scene for me to write was the one in the first book in which Will confronts his hidden beast (his secret, buried fear), which turns out to be his father. Will's anguish, caused by the fear that his father's emotionally distant behavior indicated that he did not care for Will anymore, was emotionally brutal for me. I guess that was so because I have some unresolved family issues myself.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
The same one. It has a poignancy that still pierces me deeply as an adult, and yet young children can relate to it and be touched by it as well.
Which character do you identify with the most in your book?
Will Allen, mostly because he is very much an idealized version of myself as a boy.
How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in the book?
A whole lot of myself, right down to the marrow. I tried to make every character real to me, so in order to relate to them as individuals I ended up making them represent different aspects of my own personality (yes, even the girl with the rainbow-striped hair). Creating dialog then became easy, since I'm semi-schizophrenic, and the characters began to talk to each other in my head.
What did you learn about yourself while writing this book that you may not have expected?
That I'm a sentimental sap who cries watching Mary Poppins...no, wait, I knew that already. Mostly I learned that I love to create. It's like the joy of becoming a daddy all over again, minus getting a sippy-cup tossed at my head.
Who are your favorite authors and who influenced your writing?
Some of my favorite authors are Michael Crichton, J. K. Rowling, and Kenneth C. Davis. My writing has been influenced by Bill Watterson, Rod Serling, MAD magazine, and Marvel comics.
Can you offer a glimpse into your "real life" and share with us a bit of your personal life--Outside of writing, what's important to you?
This is my real life. But over and above writing or anything else, I am a devoted father and husband. I've also always loved baseball. I spent 14 years at the famed Ted Williams Base Camp as a player and coach, and I still play ball and coach to this day. It was actually working at the camp as a coach that led me to realize that I enjoy working with kids, which led to my first career: teaching.
Tell us an interesting/crazy thing about you.
I had asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia as a child, but I overcame those shortcomings to become an accomplished athlete. I ran two NYC Marathons, won a gold medal in track at the NYS Empire State games, and once won the not-so-coveted 'Most Hustle' Award at the famed Ted Williams Baseball Camp.
As I mentioned earlier, I've always loved baseball, and I also play basketball, and do a lot of running and weight training to stay in shape for sports. I enjoy movies, especially science fiction and fantasy (go figure), and books including the Twilight series, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Harry Potter, and Ultimate Spiderman. Additionally, I can often be found with a newspaper or science magazines in my hands. Finally, I love writing, illustrating, and cooking (though my family prefers to call my endeavors in the kitchen experimenting).
Family, Political/Social Issues, the Sciences, Sports.
Tell us something surprising about you and/or something very few people know about you.
I hate running. That alone is not shocking, but the reason people are surprised by this is because I have completed two New York City Marathons, and won a gold medal in track at the New York Empire State Games.
Don't ask me to explain it: I'm a writer, not a psychiatrist.
What has been one of your biggest struggles and/or successes (professional/personal) and what have you learned from it?
Biggest struggle? Getting published.
Strangely, almost all of my struggles and successes alike have taught me the same thing: to achieve anything I set out to accomplish, it is necessary to go above and beyond my initial expectations of what is required. There is not one singular event that confirms this - It has always been true, whether I was struggling to find a job, find a date, find a publisher, or even find my socks.
Have you ever had a nickname? Tell us about it.
Lots of them. As a kid I was Pee Wee, because I played ball with my older brother and his friends, and was one of the smallest kids in the games. In college I was Silent Stan, mostly due to my lack of social skills. One of my softball buddies dubbed me Digger, because I carried a shovel to games, and on another team I was called Honey, because my girlfriend (now my wife) would always yell out, 'Way to go, honey!'
Who is your biggest fan?
I have one?
Seriously though, I believe that my biggest fans are the kids from the Cherry Hill School in River Edge, NJ. I did my Monster Hunts and StoryPlays for the students there, and for some reason, they seemed to become especially enthusiastic about the programs, and about me. Must be something in the water there.
What was the best advice you've ever received--do you follow it?
I've received lots of great advice over the years including 'don't pick at your pimples' and 'come in out of the rain'. I've never followed any of it.
What is your favorite literary turn-of-phrase / quote?
Offhand, I can think of two:
"For every complex problem there is a simple solution...and it's wrong."
"A ship in the harbor is safe...but that is not what ships are built for."
What's next for you ~ Anything else you'd like to offer?
I'm currently writing and producing more books in the Monster Detective Agency series. You see, Will Allen and the Monster Detective Agency crew have taken on a life of their own. Now I just need to get one myself.
Best and worst part of being a writer?
Best part - It's like being a proud parent, knowing that you have brought something good and beautiful into the world (and did it right for a change).
Worst part - finding a passage in one of my stories that I wish I'd written differently (better) after it has already been published.
How do readers get in touch with you? Website Address? Email?
E-mail is usually best. I have always personally answered every single letter I receive, and hope to always be able to do so. My e-mail address, Jason@RogueBearPress.com , is listed in every book, on the MonsterDetectiveAgency.com and RogueBearPress.com websites, my Facebook page, and a few ladies room walls (but that was not my doing - it's a long story...).