Questions: Georgie Juszczyk, Cathedral School, Townsville, QLD, Australia.

Answers: Jon Doust

 List 3 interesting facts about yourself…
1 – My mother and father were step brother and sister.
2 – When I was 6 my older brother hit me on the head with a hammer.
3 – In Madison, Wisconsin, in 1984, I entered the Funniest Person in America Competition and came last.
 What is your pet hate?
 What is your favourite book? And why?
The book I am writing now. Always the one I am writing now. They consume me, take over my life. I live in them. Almost. Every so often I have to leave the house to buy food. Or did you mean written by another? Too many favourites, but there is one I have read more often than any other – Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse. It is the tale of a journey to self discovery, full of explorations from imposed religion, through hedonism to a personal sense of spirituality.
 What do you consider your greatest achievement? (It can be professional or personal, or both!)
Personal? Staying alive long enough to help create a family that produced a sober, healthy, funny, decent and moral young man.
Professional? Writing books that are not cathartic, that hurt me, but continuing to write them because the stories are more important than any personal grief.
 What do you value in an effective piece of writing?
Courage and originality.
 What do you do when you have writer’s block?
Keep writing. Never stop. Write about the lawn, the sun, the boy sitting next to you, never stop. (As a consequence, I never get it.)
  What advice would you give to any aspiring young writers battling to get published within the wider world?
Seek other planets. Okay, sorry, seriously, never give up. If you get a rejection, re-work the work. If you get an acceptance, re-work the work. Everything can be better.  Never take a compliment sitting down. In fact, don’t take anything sitting down. Sitting is bad for your posture.
 What do you think are the main influences on your writing style?
My life in a small town farming family, where men spoke hard and sharp and most of the women too. My grandfather, who was a farmer, story teller and journalist. My early reading: adventure tales – Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer. And later: Ernest Hemmingway, Hermann Hesse, JD Salinger.
 Is there an over-arching message or theme that you try to project through your different works?
Still working on it. Life is mad, but it doesn’t have to make you crazy? Be aware of the dangers of obsessiveness, of over-indulgence, of dgoma. Look after those who are not as fortunate as you. Revenge can be sweet, although nasty.
 Was there a definitive turning point in your career that led you to pursue writing?
I always wanted to write, from about thirteen. But I hid all my writing. Then I met a man over coffee. His name was Ken Spillman. He asked me to help him write a children’s book. I said yes. Everything changed.
 What is your favourite part of being a writer? (Usually people tell me that it’s great to be paid for staying at home in their PJs!)
I don’t have pjs. But it is good not having a job. It’s for the best, for everyone. That’s one more job available for someone who needs one and, besides, I’m not good in a workplace. I’m disruptive. I tend to want to make work fun. Not encouraged.  Then there’s talking. I am a natural talker. The writing I love more than anything, I am driven to do it, but the talking comes natural.
 Some authors say they turned to writing because they needed to escape into another world within their mind, some do it for the pleasure of publishing to the masses and some say that writing is inspired purely because they have a story to tell. What is your personal motivation for writing? (Such a small question for such a big answer!)
I have to tell stories. It’s all I can do. I can’t fix a car, or mend a fence, or cure ingrown toenails. But I can pretend I can. Then there’s my head. My wife says I have a memory like an elephant, without the body, for which she is thankful. My head is full, and in order to ease its strain, I have to get stuff out, or, I’m sure, it will explode. And I am an idealist. The world upsets me, daily – I see things and have things to say about those things.
 And for the benefit of all the English teachers out there, why is a love of books so crucial for students?
You cannot do everything, be everything, understand everything, know everything, but you can read everything. No, you can’t, but you can nurture your imagination, stimulate your senses, foster your understanding.
 If there was one thing you could change about the way society operates today, what would it be? Why?
I would make it mandatory for everyone to have their DNA analysed to determine their ethnic origins, then they would realise we all came out of Africa and there is no such thing as purity in race. Indeed, race is a myth. Why? Just for fun.
 Do you feel that the use of technology within the younger generation is having a negative or positive impact upon literacy? (Please elaborate on your opinions as to why and what we can do about it if applicable)
I thnk ther is 2 much txting.2 many people don’t complt words or sentces any … 
In school I would create a class dedicated to the long drawn out sentence and let students go on and on and on and on and …
 Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or one hundred duck sized horses?
I would prefer 100 horse sized ducks. As they ran at me I’d climb a tree and do my geese calls. Ducks hate geese. There would be chaos. They’d run into each other, fall over, and there’d be duck for dinner for a year.

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