New Author/Illustrator- Damien Jones

We are thrilled to welcome Damien Jones as one of our newest authors here at CWLA! We sat down with Damien to learn a little more about his writing and inspiration.

1. How long have you been working on children’s books, as an illustrator, and as an author?
I started around 12 years ago, doing interiors on a small series for Simon and Schuster called ‘Battle Champions’.

2. Has your animation degree influenced the way you write?
Most definitely, being exposed to so many short animated films and the eclectic mix of great storytelling really gives you many great reference points to use when writing. How you can tell a story and capture an audience in a film lasting only a few minutes really lends itself to picture books. My animation degree really helped me to focus on what’s important in the story and thinking in a storyboard type of fashion helps me edit my writing.

3. What inspired you to become an author?
I think living in a constant daydream, I’m constantly thinking of short films and stories, and unlike the animation industry books allow me to do all the jobs and be in control of the creative direction from start to finish.

4. Do any of the stories you write come from your own experiences and memories of your childhood?
I think there are always elements of my experience that creep into my writing, sometimes on purpose and others organically. I often find the characters I write are formed by stealing bits from people from my childhood or memories.

5. How do you make sure your stories are relatable to children? How do you get in the mindset of a child?
I’m probably a big kid at heart, also helps having a young son who is often my toughest critic.

6. Are there any overlapping skills have you noticed between illustrating and writing children’s books?
Yes, I was always taught to sketch in a sketchbook and capture small details about life, like something as simple as the different ways people will hold a cup, and how this can show a lot about the person’s character. I feel this also helps when writing that character as all these details help understand what the character is like and how they would react to any situation.

7. What do you enjoy most about being a children’s book author?
To bring stories to life that otherwise would just sit in my head, and it is lovely to think that at any bedtime someone is getting joy from this.

8. Are there any books that influence your writing?
Mostly children’s books from my childhood, from classics such as Roald Dahl and Anthony Browne. One of my favourites as a child was a book called ‘The Book of Giant Stories’ by David L Harrison, illustrated by Philippe Fix.

9. Tell us about your writing routine. Where and when and how do you like to write?
My writing routine always starts with a long walk, and making notes on my phone. Once I have enough notes I like to write a quick draft and try to build the story without thinking about word count or pages. The next stage, I will visualise it and maybe do character sketches and start editing, and structuring it into a book format. Then it’s more walking or waking up in the middle of the night with an epiphany on how I can improve elements of the story, and then just keep rewriting until I’m happy to storyboard the entire book. I like to create everything in my home studio often with a large green tea.

10. Are there any exciting projects you’re working on at the moment?
I am currently developing two picture books, and very excited to share progress when ready ;)!