Interview with Jo Fontana

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I am not writing, I am either reading or doing artwork. I am also a full time student right now, so I am very busy.
What is your writing process?
When writing a story, I usually get a silly idea from something mundane. If the idea is good for a Turtle Monkey book, I write notes and a basic outline. The pieces of the story usually come together while I write it. Many good ideas come from the environment. Children and animals can also be a great inspiration.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It wasn't the first book I read, but the most memorable book for me was Two Too Many by Nora S. Unwin. It is a children's book centered around a witch and her black cats. It has been a while since I've read it, but it was the first book I got completely caught up with. I must have read it at least ten times. It was the book that I judged all others by until I reached high school.
How do you approach cover design?
I wanted to make covers that are distinctive. I came up with the idea of using a colored background and felt art instead of a drawing or painting so I could achieve a 3D look.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Two too Many because it was the first book I fell in love with. The Shining because it is the scariest book I've ever read. Obviously the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling was able to draw me so deeply into the books that it almost felt real.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I actually use my computer. I do everything on the computer and it is just easier to download books in either PDF of Kindle format.
Describe your desk
I don't use a desk. I use my laptop and just write wherever I am. I only use the desk for drawing.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on Long Island. There wasn't much technology while I was growing up and I spent a lot of time outside by myself. I lived near the water so I would go across the canal and roam through the cattails looking for fairies or lightning bugs. I guess it heightened my imagination and now I use my imagination to create fun fantasy stories.
What's the story behind your latest book?
There is a mysterious new neighbor who moves in next door to Turtle Monkey. No one has seen this neighbor yet and coincidentally, the other neighbors start noticing some of their things are missing. Turtle Monkey wants to catch the culprit so she and her friends set a trap.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has made my dream of publishing books a reality. There are no upfront fees and my books are widely distributed. I have been able to sell books through an array of vendors, this way I reach a wider audience.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is actually creating something that will last long after I am gone. I hope my books bring comfort, joy, and wonder to those who purchase them.
Published 2014-03-18.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Turtle Monkey and the Sneaky Neighbor
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 13. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,430. Language: English. Published: March 25, 2014. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
A new neighbor moves in next door on the vacant property next to Turtle Monkey’s house. They are elusive and Turtle Monkey believes the new neighbor will be friendlier than Big Ape and Little Ape until things start to go missing around the neighborhood. For ages 4-8. (Word count 2124, 6 color illustrations.)
My Farty Valentine
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 8. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 1,600. Language: American English. Published: October 3, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey doesn’t like Valentine’s Day. Will she be able to stay out of trouble and enjoy the candy she gets? For ages 4-8. (Word count 1337, 4 color illustrations.)
A Turtle Monkey Yule
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 7. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,710. Language: American English. Published: October 3, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey’s relatives come to celebrate the midwinter holiday. Will she be able to survive Uncle Red’s visit? Will Uncle Red? For ages 4-8. (Word count 2456, 6 color illustrations.)
A Turtle Monkey Halloween
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,440. Language: American English. Published: October 3, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey believes in the magic of Sappy Hopper. She is excited when she gets the costume, but will she be able to do magic like she always wanted to? For ages 4-8. (Word count 2081, 6 color illustrations.)
Turtle Monkey and the Bride of Fuzztastic
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 12. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,340. Language: American English. Published: October 3, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Fuzztastic is lonely, and he is driving Turtle Monkey and Mama Monkey crazy; so they head off to Fuzzy fields to find him a friend. Will the new cat be as special as he is? For ages 4-8. (Word count 2079, 6 color illustrations.)
Happy Birthday, Turtle Monkey
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 5. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,450. Language: American English. Published: October 3, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
It’s Turtle Monkey’s seventh birthday and she cannot wait to see what presents she gets. Little does she know that her kitty Fuzztastic has a little birthday surprise for her & Mama as well! For ages 4-8. (Word count 2199, 5 color illustrations.)
Turtle Monkey Goes on Vacation
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 4. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,560. Language: American English. Published: October 2, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey goes to visit Uncle Red and learns about the desert, chili, and cacti. She also learns why cacti should be respected. For ages 4-8. (Word count 2307, 5 color illustrations.)
Turtle Monkey Goes to the Beach
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 11. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,660. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey’s village is being swarmed with grasshoppers, and Turtle Monkey really doesn't like grasshoppers! Mama Monkey takes Turtle Monkey to the beach to wait the swarms out. Will Turtle Monkey be able to overcome her fear of grasshoppers? For ages 4-8. (Word count 2378, 6 color illustrations.)
Turtle Monkey and the Magic Garden
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 9. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,480. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey gets in trouble – again – after Fuzztastic gets candy in his fur, so she has to help in her Aunt and Uncle's garden. Will her punishment fit the crime? What will she find in the garden? For ages 5-10. (Word count 2231, 6 color illustrations.)
Farty Tails
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,840. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Three fascinating short bedtime tales that Mama Monkeys all over the world told to their Baby Monkeys when they were small. For ages 4-8. (Word count 2592, 5 color illustrations.)
Turtle Monkey Goes To Camp
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 10. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,970. Language: English. Published: July 17, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey gets her wish and is sent to swim camp for the summer. The only problem is the neighborhood bully will be there too. Will Turtle Monkey be able to survive camp? For ages 4-8. (Word count 2787, 6 color illustrations.)
Turtle Monkey and the Unfriendly Mushrooms
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,270. Language: American English. Published: July 17, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey and friends play a mushroom game. Will Turtle Monkey be okay after eating a friendly mushroom on a dare? For ages 4-8. (Word count 2086, 6 color illustrations.)
Turtle Monkey's Big Move
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Series: Turtle Monkey, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,850. Language: American English. Published: July 16, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Turtle Monkey is moving for the first time and is hoping to be able to fit in — but that will be hard, as she is a green monkey. She will have to cope with life in a bigger village and try to make new friends. For ages 4-8. (Word count 2661, 5 color illustrations.)