John Alexander Priest was born in a town called Netherton in the West Midlands, UK. He started writing seriously in 1985 and has been published traditionally and independently.
His latest book is The Curse of Sea Shell Cave, the second book in the popular detective/whodunit series of Jay-Pea-Eyes aka Junior Private Investigators.
John has published two other books recently for Amazon e-Kindle: Peter Challenge – Time Surfer, a fantasy book for children and Little Miss Straight Tail, a bedtime story that is all about farm animal friends. Little Miss Straight Tail is a piglet born with a straight tail. Will it ever be curly?
John is a writer who enjoys school visits to demonstrate the writing processes.
SD: The Curse of Sea Shell Cave is the second book in the Junior Private Investigators (JPI) series. The first book was The Boomerang Mystery. What sparked a second book?
JP: The Junior Private Investigators had only just formed. I couldn't just leave it at one book. I'm already working on a few ideas for the third! They (Harry, Polly, Lily and Stan) need a new investigation to keep their hands in.
SD: How did the idea to write a private investigators book series come about?
JP: I had the private investigators, which we all know as PIs, theme in my mind and then I thought, ‛hang on, what if they weren't adult PIs at all but young kids? What if they were Junior PIs?’ That's when I got the name Junior Private Investigators that can be shortened to JPIs or 'Jay-Pea-Eyes.'
SD: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters in The Curse of Sea Shell Cave?
JP: They just appear in my mind once I start planning the book. My favourite in this book is a Mr. Quay, or as his advertisements say, his name is Donald Quay, Don Quay for short. He owns the donkey-ride business on the beach not far from the hotel they're staying at in the book.
SD: Any plans in the future to turn JPIs into an ongoing book series like, for instance, the Hardy Boys mysteries?
JP: There will definitely be a third book written this year and if people continue to enjoy the JPIs, there will be a fourth.
SD: Do you have a background in private investigation or solving mysteries of some kind or do you have a love for solving clues and mysteries?
JP: I was a police officer for a good number of years until a serious leg injury meant I could not perform my duties anymore. My first book, Naughty Nigel Runs Away, was published by traditional publishers and was a story to warn children of the dangers of running away or getting lost and what they should do (find a police officer) to locate their parents.
SD: On your website you have published basic tips and tricks for how children can become a Junior Private Investigator. What have the responses been like from kids about The Curse of Sea Shell Cave?
JP: The Curse of Sea Shell Cave is very new so I doubt if I will get much feedback until June or July this year, but the first book went into schools and libraries and I was able to get the children's feedback while I was with them. One of the children actually wrote his own review of the Jay-Pea-Eyes in The Boomerang Mystery and it can be seen on my website.
SD: Are you a procrastinator or do you jump right in?
JP: I used to jump straight in when I first started writing. Now I make sure I plan my books properly so that I'm not stuck halfway through the book.
SD: Can you tell us about your writing process?
JP: I will normally have an idea of a story or it might just be a title. I work this around in my head for a while until I can't stand it any longer and it's ready to burst out. Then I take my fountain pen and a writing pad and start the process of getting the idea on paper. I don't start typing it up until the book is correctly planned and plotted and the characters are ready to play their parts. I find it very relaxing to use a fountain pen and paper and I also find it easier to read and check through my work this way. Everyone finds his or her own methods and this is mine.
SD: When you are not writing what do you do?
JP: I have had many jobs, my last one being a Tutor and English/Employability Trainer. I stopped work two years ago at 54 years old to concentrate on my writing, but this didn't last long. My wife and I look after our three grandchildren fulltime which is great and allows me to watch all the cartoons, films and also read the latest children's books, so it's all grist to the mill.
SD: What books and authors have most influenced you?
JP: For my children's books, I think Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie would have to be a favourite and Roald Dahl who was a brilliant author and created some fantastic books and characters.
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