Jonathan J. Drake about ... Jakob Flint: From Fool To King
Jonathan J. Drake
interviewed Apr 2010 by Sarah Rudd
“Jakob Flint: From Fool to King” is a hilarious romp that will appeal to adults as well as children. Where did the inspiration for the story come from?
This is a very good question. I wanted to try something different in comparison to my first book which is more of a traditional fantasy adventure. I was trying to think of something unusual but also along a tried and tested theme – something similar to the ‘Prince and the Pauper’ but with more comical elements.
I don’t quite know how I thought about the idea. I remember waking up at 3am – my wife was snoring gently by my side (she is so going to pummel me for telling you that) – and I couldn’t get back to sleep. As I lay back, thinking about what to write about, the idea just popped into my head so I went downstairs, booted up the computer and started the story (actually the bit where Jakob has his first day in the throne room and discovers his love for truffles).You make Jakob’s character very child-like in his naivety; was this a ploy to enhance the comical effect of the story, or is there another reason you made him so silly?
I’m sure in this world we live there are people similar to Jakob. We’re all so wonderful, unique and different. Jakob’s upbringing has made him the way he is. He has an almost comical outlook on life himself and doesn’t take much seriously… at least to begin with. I was trying to make him likeable but not everyone warms to him initially (unless you’re a seven-year-old).
I’ve had a few people tell me that they really disliked the opening scene and some of Jakob’s made up words such as ‘goodie’ and ‘handie’. I guess he’s a bit like Marmite. Where does the name “Widdlelop” come from?
How did I know you were going to ask this? I was trying to think of something unique and appealing to children but also something that adults might find mildly amusing. It’s amazing what you can come up with after a hot bath and a glass of wine. It’s unique as well – couldn’t find it in the Google search - heh heh We loved the sense of humour (very British, very tongue-in-cheek); how important is it for you that Jakob Flint is funny and did the funny bits come easily to you?
Humour is a ‘funny’ thing – pardon the pun and I’m absolutely delighted that you found it amusing. I didn’t actually plan the comical moments, they just visited me as I wrote.
Realistically, the humour in Jakob Flint isn’t going to appeal to everyone but ultimately, I wanted to create a book that was a fun, light-hearted read with some weird and wonderful characters and a few surprises thrown in for good measure.How long did it take you to write Jakob Flint and what was the most difficult part to write?
Jakob Flint actually didn’t take too long to write. I think it took about three months. I was in a most creative mood and I remember my children spurred me on, demanding the next chapter for their bedtime read.
The most difficult part was trying not to take the book too seriously. At times I was completely absorbed by the characters and felt their frustrations. The general meeting in Castle Bentworth is a good example. I was getting carried away with the arguing and bickering and then suddenly realised that the story was becoming too serious so I had to stop short and add some more comical elements. So, what does the ‘J’ (your initial) stand for?
Actually, I don’t have a middle name. While browsing Amazon UK, I noticed a fair few authors shared my name so I decided to stick in an extra initial to be a little bit different. As my son is called James, the ‘J’ sprung to mind. Being self-published takes a lot of guts and self-belief: what made you realise “Jakob Flint” warranted this level of commitment?
I tried the traditional publishing route with my first book, ‘The Delight of Dark’. I know patience is a virtue but, by the time I managed to find an agent and then gradually received a spate of rejection letters from publishers, I had aged quite dramatically by the end of the process.
It wasn’t all bad - I did receive some helpful feedback to say ‘The Delight of Dark’ was well written but probably difficult to market. Taking this into consideration, I changed my tactics and attempted to write a more comical, light-hearted adventure - thus Jakob Flint was born.
It’s a bit of a gamble really – It only takes one person to really like and believe in my work and if I can get a traditional publisher to take an interest and help me market the series then I believe it could be quite a fruitful investment.
Self publishing is not to be taken lightly - it’s a roller coaster ride of many ups and downs. Apart from writing in your spare time (and having a family to keep entertained!) – What is it that occupies you?
Well, I work full time, I have two demanding rascals constantly wanting my attention (and that doesn’t include my wife), I have my part time BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Computing for business to concentrate on and obviously my writing as well. Not a lot of time for much else.
Ultimately, I’m a simple man (like Jakob) with simple pleasures. A glass of red wine (a few truffles) and a bit of story telling is remarkably relaxing and enjoyable. Other than that I enjoy camping and the great outdoors.If you could take credit for writing any book, which would it be and why?
I’ve only written two complete books so far – The Delight of Dark and Jakob Flint. Jakob Flint is my favourite. If you mean books by other authors then I would have loved to have written and took credit for ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’. I read that so many times as a child. For me, it’s magical and emotional.Apparently, there are plans in the pipeline for another Widdlelop adventure – when and what can we expect?
The good thing about Widdlelop is that it’s a big Kingdom with many weird and wonderful characters. I’ve started to jot down a few ideas for my next Widdlelop book which will revolve around the life of Jakob Flint once again but, it’s my intention to write stories about different denizens of Widdlelop rather than concentrate solely on Jakob.
I anticipate another Widdlelop book to be released later this year. I can certainly confirm that Lord Leggid will once again make an appearance and there will be a few hidden surprises including the return of someone unexpected in the plot. In the meantime, in-between my college work, I’m busy concentrating on improving ‘The Delight of Dark’ to see if I can make it more fun and marketable.
I’ve recently adapted ‘Jakob Flint’ into a television drama script and sent it to the BBC Writers room. They’re currently evaluating it and obviously, the odds are slim but I like to think that if you don’t try in life then you’re certain to get a no rather than a yes. (If the BBC is reading this then do consider Keith Allen as Lord Leggid… heh heh)Read our full review of Jakob Flint: From Fool to King by Jonathan J. Drake