Interview with Robert E. Jacob

What got you interested in writing children's books?
As a father of five and grandfather of nine, I have always been keen to find engaging literature for my children. I began writing stories when they were very young. Secondly, my wife is an educator working with younger students. One day she was complaining about the lack of quality teaching materials and I said, "Why don't I write some books to help you teach science." I was actually joking but she jumped on the suggestion and voila, The Gumshoe Archives were born. I now have three grade level book series under construction and they are becoming quite popular.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was raised in various places. My parents separated when I was only 6 months old. Most of my life was spent in the shelter of the rocky mountains of Salt Lake City, however I spent summers in Oregon with my father. I was exposed to many types of people, cultures and environments. I loved to write stories about the places I would visit and with such a wide range and selection of examples it became a wonderful way to explore my literary talent.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing at the age of 16. My mother encouraged me to keep a journal but I found it boring to simply put down the mundane events of the day, so instead, I would create exciting adventures. For example, If I was recording the chores I had to do for that day I would turn them into life or death battles. I remember writing one about mowing the lawn. It still entertains me to this day.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest series of books are entitled, The Gumshoe Archives. The backstory centers around a young by by the name of Andy Spencer. As a teenager, he and his parents took a vacation to Africa for safari. Unfortunately, their ship encounters a terrible storm and the ship is lost at sea. He almost perishes with the rest of the passengers but is rescued at the last minute by a great winged creature. It is Norsely, flying in the form of an Eagle. He spots the stranded lad and swoops down, rescuing him and taking him back to his home. With Andy's parents presumed lost at sea, he becomes an orphan and Norsely takes on the responsibility for his care. He becomes his guardian and friend. Together they begin tackling the tough detective cases that no one else can solve.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Before writing The Gumshoe Archives, I completed a historical novel entitled Azorea, The Piper of the Glen, a fun fictional story of an alien race of people who become marooned on earth in the 16th century on the northern tip of Scotland. I tried for years to get literary representation but because my work crossed two genres, (i.e. Historical Fiction and Science Fiction) no agent would touch it. I refused to accept that and decided that with the internet and social media I just might be able to get my message out. It has been working, slowly but surely.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It has to be when I receive emails from parents, thanking me for developing such a wonderful book series for their children. I love to hear which books their kids enjoy the most. Have children and grandchildren of my own, I am thrilled at these type of compliments.
What are you working on next?
There is still so much more work to be done on The Gumshoe Archives. I have completed the 4th and 5th grade reading series and am not working hard to complete the 3rd grade science reading series. After that I still have the 6th grade series to plow through. There is plenty to keep me occupied.
Who are your favorite authors?
Good question, some of my favorite authors are Tom Clancy, J.R. Tolkien (of course), James Michener, I loved his book caravans. One of the best historical fiction books I have ever read. I like Jack wild and earnest Hemingway as well.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The thought that my books might be making a real difference in young children's lives and attitudes about life.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am very passionate about my Scottish heritage. My great grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1851. To honor him I have learned to play the Great Highland Bagpipes. I used to play various other instruments as well, however the pipes are such a demanding mistress that I have virtually abandoned the rest in order to play them. I have visited Scotland and hope to go again soon.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is simple. Currently, as I am writing The Gumshoe Archives and they are heavily based on the existing science curriculum, I start by analyzing the vocabulary words the story will evolve around. After I have the completed list I sit and try to think of a mystery/detective story that will utilize them. Frankly, it is becoming more and more of a challenge as I continue to write these books. My latest book, "The Martian Caper" has not been released yet but It is the first that takes a total departure from reality. I just decided to ignore any boundaries or constraints and give my warped brain free reign. It should be available in a few month. I do all the illustrations as well as write the stories so it takes a bit longer to launch new books.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes, the first story I ever read was The Hobbit. I couldn't put it down. I found it so amazing how Tolkien could paint such a vivid picture without using pictures. That's where my love of literature began.
How do you approach cover design?
Good question. My first book covers were pretty pathetic, truth be told. I thought they were great but when I got feedback the truth became painfully clear. I had a very good friend who was a commercial graphics artist. he looked at my books and have me some harsh and needed criticism. He did a book cover for me, "The Mutant Professor". I instantly saw the sales begin to go through the roof on that volume and I was convinced, I had to make a change. Unfortunately, I didn't have the money to pay for a professional cover designer so I decided to educate myself. I began taking classes in graphic arts and after some time I realized I had a real knack for it and I enjoyed it. Now I do all the covers myself as well as the interior illustrations. It's a real kick in the pants.
Published 2015-04-27.
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