Today I have a special treat for you guys. I managed to find and ensnare, YA Author Jon Robinson, author of the fabulous NOWHERE and grilled him for your entertainment! Enjoy!
Welcome to Mel’s Random Reviews! Let’s jump into the
|Jon Robinson, a "ridiculous human being" & Author|
First tell us a little about yourself and when you knew you wanted to write...
It’s always a little tricky to introduce yourself without it sounding like a personals ad isn’t it? I’m 29, born and raised in Middlesex, United Kingdom. For all you astrologers out there, I’m told I’m a very typical Sagittarius (whatever that may be?) and frequently described as quirky, random and occasionally a “ridiculous human being”… which I can only assume is a compliment. When I’m not reading/writing I’m really into running, meditation, yoga and a ton of other stuff I don’t really have time for. I’ve been intermittent fasting for the past 2 years, I keep a ‘coincidence diary’ and a book of stoic philosophy beside my pillow. I work part time for a charity in London and spend far too long on the tubes.
I’ve been writing since I was very young, but started taking it seriously (ie; sending my work to literary agents) when I was probably around 21. I had no contacts, no family connections, no previous experience of working in publishing. So yes, it can be done!
The first of a new trilogy, NOWHERE has just been released - how would you describe it to potential readers?
NOWHERE is about a group of teenagers who are being held in a mysterious high security prison. They’re told they’ve committed terrible crimes (but none of them can remember doing so) and have been sentenced, without trial, without knowing when they will be released, where they are, or even what day of the week it is. We gradually see a mysterious cabal of the wealthiest people in the country called The Pledge is behind their incarceration… but why? (cue dramatic music) …
My editor said something in the first draft reminded her a little of “Cabin in the Woods”, which was incredibly perceptive as I’d always envisioned the series as hopping between several genres. There are elements of dystopia, sci fi, urban fantasy, conspiracy, action-adventure, mystery, among others…
NOWHERE has several big ideas and secrets...did you know when you started writing what those secrets were going to be?
Yes, absolutely. It’s easy to assume that I just came up with a high concept (kids kept in a prison, told they’ve committed crimes etc) and then looked for an answer that would fit. But actually, the series started with the idea behind the central mystery (which is explored fully in book 2) and then developed the whole prison scenario, and decided to use that to set the stage for the series.
I’ve had this approach with the smaller mysteries and secrets too. For example, in the sequel ANYWHERE, there’s talk of “something very bad” being kept inside a strange locked room. Again, I knew the secret from the start and thought of a really cool and sinister way of introducing it, so came up with the idea of a locked room that no-one is allowed to look inside.
Some people absolutely have to know every little thing about a story but I enjoy leaving blanks for the reader to fill themselves, to give their imagination a little breathing space. As the first in the series, NOWHERE is deliberately kept quite ambiguous – I mean there are hints as to what the mystery is (and a few readers have almost hit the mark), but it is quite complex. Some people will never see it coming, and by the second book, the series will have morphed into something else entirely.
The kids in NOWHERE don’t know where they are being held. If you were held for your own good, is there somewhere you’d like to be? (Personally I’d love to be locked in a library!)
I’m with you on the library thing. As a kid I used to amuse myself with these weird fantasies about being left overnight in mysterious bookshops and amusement arcades…
You left us on the edge of our seats at the end of NOWHERE, when’s the next book out? (And is there anything I can bribe you with to bring it forward? J)
The next book, ANYWHERE, is basically finished! I’ll be submitting to my editor within the next few days, and then it’ll probably go through a fairly extensive editing process with the Puffin team, much like NOWHERE. It’s going to be well over 500 pages. I can’t wait for people to read it, and see the direction the novel is going to take. There are some genuinely disturbing parts (fingers crossed I’m able to keep these in). One of my favourite characters in the sequel is Stephen, a psychopathic 21 year old technology billionaire - I despise him, but he is such a fun character to write, and is involved in some really shocking and cruel scenes. There is also a lot more about the menacing advisor, Emmanuel, and some hints as to who (or what) he is…
As for release dates, I think the plan is probably summer 2014, but if there are any changes I’ll keep you posted!
And a random question, if you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I spend far too much time thinking about this. The three I’ve reduced it to are 1) Matrix-style ‘time distortion’, 2) Teleportation 3) Healing (myself and others). Healing is probably the most sensible and altruistic, but I love the idea of being able to fight off a gang of enemies with slow-motion kung fu. Then again, why would I ever be surrounded by enemies? I write books and work for a charity…
Finally a 60 second, quick question quiz
- Favourite Book you’ve read? Don Quixote
- Favourite food? Italian; probably a risotto
|Ophelia, Netherland Dwarf|
- Favourite film? Toy Story (yep, I’m a big kid) followed by Kubrick’s 2001; A Space Odyssey
- Favourite music? Everything, but I’ve been listening to The National’s new album, Trouble Will Find Me, which is superb.
- Favourite authors? JG Ballard, Hemingway, Borges,
- Any pets? My fiancee has a Netherland Dwarf rabbit called ‘Ophelia’
- Favourite saying/quote? "We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing” - George Bernard Shaw
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!