John Paul Tucker holds degrees in Theatre and Theology and has many years experience as an Ontario Certified English Language Teacher, in addition to teaching mime, puppetry and Drama to teens and children. His unique journey has furnished him with an eclectic head of ideas.
He is currently celebrating his 50th article on www.thewriterslessonbook.com, an educational website he created for writers, featuring writing tips and techniques harvested from the books we love to read. He has published poems in the Toronto Sun, Little Trinity Print Magazine and Imago Arts e-magazine. His poem City Sidewalks won first prize in a Toronto wide poetry contest. Two of his short stories, The Crooked Tree and The Debt Collector have each won a prize awarded by The Word Guild and The Prescott Journal respectively. You will find one of his fantasy stories recently published in the popular Hot Apple Cider anthology Christmas with Hot Apple Cider. JP has been busy polishing up The Rooster and the Raven King & The Rise of the Crimson King, Books II & III of The Song of Fridorfold trilogy, pursuing Cary, Clarisse and Gregory on their fantastic adventures.
John Paul is excited to be putting the final touches to his fourth novel, a YA fantasy inspired by the remarkable storyteller, George MacDonald. Gather the latest news about JP’s upcoming novels, enjoy a book trailer, dive into some free stories and poems, contribute some art work, take a peek at some photos, or for no other reason drop by to say hello at his official author website www.johnpaultucker.com.
John’s latest book is the middle grade fantasy adventure, Shelter Island.
Website Address: https://www.johnpaultucker.com
Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/johnpaultucker.author/
Thirteen-year-old Cary and his sister Clarisse must return home every day after school to mind their eight year old brother, Gregory. “It’s a non-negotiable,” insist their work-obsessed parents. There is another problem. Clarisse and Gregory don’t like Cary much, and Cary doesn’t much like anything, especially being tagged with his gummy-fingered little brother. But their troubles are about to grow
While bickering over the contents of a small, intricately embroidered pouch, the siblings unintentionally summon three mail-clad birds, who hasten their three young conscripts to Shelter Island, refuge to a long divided realm hidden from the children’s homeland for hundreds of years. Spotted above enemy territory, the small company is attacked. Clarisse and Gregory escape to the caves of Husgard. Cary’s captors dispatch him to Vangorfold, a centuries old stronghold sworn to Husgard’s destruction. Entangled in a centuries old conflict, the children’s own blur of problems comes into sharp focus, hastening the fortunes, for good or ill, not only of a forgotten civilization of birds, but of the children’s homeland.
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At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?
According to my mother, my kindergarten teacher declared her son would someday be an author. Where the teacher got that from, I haven’t a clue, and that ‘someday’ ended up a long way down a winding road. But I’ve always enjoyed stories, particularly fantasy or fairy tales. The natural world has always struck me as a magical place, infiltrated by presences we cannot see. Perhaps, my kindergarten teacher saw how much I loved to listen to or launch into a story. Keep in mind she also reported that I liked to take long naps, which all means, of course, that I can write in my sleep! Getting back the question in earnest, I started off in a professional career in theatre and was writing on the side. After many years, writing stories eventually got promoted from a side dish to the main course.
What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?
I have always found stories compelling. Books opened up new worlds, introduced peculiar characters I would have liked to have as friends. Stories taught me profound truths which I could not grasp any other way. But it was Ernest Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a novella by Richard Bach that had the greatest impact on my young and impressionable imagination. I wept for Hemmingway’s old fisherman. Then, I got angry. I refused to believe that the old fisherman’s experience, which read like a sad parable, was all life had to offer. Jonathan Seagull, on the other hand, swept alongside a young artist and promised much, much more than meets the eye. I was astounded that stories could wield so much power. Perhaps, those novels were the turning point, a prompting a subconscious choice perhaps, that there would be no other path than that of the storyteller.
Do you have any writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?
Write. Read a lot. Pray regularly. Submit. Cry sometimes. Celebrate. Resist cryptic messages from your insecure brain, such as, “No one is going to give your stuff a second look.” Know writing is also a business — Repeat. I should add that my coaches have always been other author’s books, which is the primary reason I created www.thewriterslessonbook.com, a free educational website providing fiction writers tips and techniques harvested from the books we love to read.
Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?
Other than making another coffee (I’m a procaffeinator! I can’t do much until I’ve savored one — or two.), walking the dog, checking on my websites, visiting FB, looking into the abyss a la the Grinch, holding my head in my hands, sifting through the cat litter, answering emails, collecting my mail (with the dog!), watching the leaves turn color out my window and reading weird stories. Other than the above mentioned, I am a writing machine! Kidding aside, I pretty much get obsessed with what I happen to be working on and those things above can be welcome distractions.
What hours do you write best?
Morning, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, sometimes well into the afternoon, every day hands down, in my barber’s chair or standing in front of my desk, which elevates or descends at the press of a button. Fun! As late afternoon turns to evening, my brain transforms into something between porridge and a stump, good for stirring in a pot or sitting on, but not much good for writing.
Do you work from notes when you write?
I primarily work with index cards (the virtual sort), writing short summaries of the chapters ahead, but most of the time I allow the unfolding sweep of the story and its character’s to take the driver’s seat. Which means, however, that I have to check the map a lot and do back adjustment edits. By the way, if you want to write, learn to love editing! Writing is much more than pouring out a first draft. Think of a sculptor, or a painter, who chisels or sketches out the first impression of her vision. After that it’s shaping, revising, smoothing, sharpening and detailing. Writing is editing.
What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?
The most difficult thing I found about writing Shelter Island, or the books which followed, was the business aspect: submitting manuscripts, building and maintaining a ‘platform’ and selling books. The whole business of writing tends to dishearten rather than spur on a writer. Agents and publishers are often deluged with submissions. Publisher’s websites frequently include a note warning your submission is one of a multitude, from which a select few will clinch a second peek, that you will have to wait threescore years and ten before someone rescues it from the slough, and if that weren’t enough, the to-be-pitied author will only be contacted if his manuscript has managed to set said agent’s or editor’s heart ablaze. Lately, many publishers and agents will not do the author the courtesy of a form rejection letter. Kate Di Camillo once said persistence is the key; Keep writing, keep reading, and keep submitting. I say, write. Read a lot. Pray regularly. Submit. Cry sometimes. Celebrate. Resist cryptic messages from your insecure brain, such as, “No one cares.” Know writing is also a business — Repeat.
What are you currently working on?
Inspired by George MacDonald’s classic fairytales for adults, Lilith and Phantastes, I am putting the finishing touches to a Heroic Fantasy for ages 12 and up. Will Flint’s longing for his missing father ignites a dramatic and fateful quest into a mythical country (secret Book Title) in which the unseen things of the world have transformed into creatures of elemental power, a land in which an impulsive request transforms one realm and shatters another. It’s a little darker than my first books, but who doesn’t like to feel their heart thumping once in a while? You can watch the book trailer and find out more at my author website: www.johnpaultucker.com