Jon told us how he has always written. As a teenager he wrote short stories. He described himself as a, ‘Recovering English teacher.’ He used to write the beginning of things and the ends of things and the middle of other things. But, he never sat down and wrote a whole novel until he broke his ankle. His advice to everyone at the SCBWI Professional Series was:
“Don’t ever run in the snow.”
He was ‘layed up’ for six weeks. But, this meant he was finally able to get his bum in the seat and write. 95,000 words later, everything he had ever thought of was down on paper somewhere. But, he had a revelation moment when he went to see his son in a performance of Oliver. His son’s walk-on part of 5 seconds, was the beginning of his debut novel, Mortlock and elements of his original 95,000 words also made a re-appearance.
Jon decided to join SCBWI after a comment on his blog suggested he should. After joining he went to his first Winchester conference in 2008, which is where I believe I first met Jon. At dinner he sat next to Imogen Cooper from Chicken House. Not knowing who she was he started talking about his novel. She asked him to send it in. He also went on a Cornerstones workshop and they looked at his synopsis and sample chapters. Through them he found his agent, Sarah Davis, from the Greenhouse Literary Agency. Then he had to go through the whole process of redrafting and re-sculpting before Bloomsbury took him on with a three book deal. You can preorder The Demon Collector from Amazon.
SCBWI allowed him to meet people from the same mind-set as himself and the SCBWI conference is still the highlight of his year.