Tell me about yourself.
I am a 40-something cowboy-turned-security guard-turned-police officer-turned city firefighter who has done many jobs in-between. I am currently in my last 5 years as a firefighter for the small city of Pocatello, Idaho, am married and have four beautiful children—at least they’re beautiful to me!
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing off and on since I was six years old, with my first novel written in the sixth grade and my first book, Season of the Vigilante, published when I was 28.
What’s your story about?
My new book is about a boy, Samuel, who is, pardon the trite phrase, “painfully shy” and sadly pessimistic. At the end of his summer vacation, a thunderstorm seems to blow into his little hometown this wonderful little Hispanic girl named Angelica Escalante, who can be described in three phrases: Ultra-optimistic, outgoing, and, perhaps most importantly, recovering from a serious brain tumor that nearly took her life. Through the course of his relationship, Samuel learns not only to love life, but to show it, and most important of all, to speak the word “love,” whose very utterance has made him tremble for years.
What genre would you consider your book?
I would have to call it “Inspirational.”
Give me some insight into your main character.
I probably answered most of that in your first question, but digging deeper, Samuel is a very loving, loyal boy who wants to be accepted and wishes he could be more like the outgoing people he sees around him. Like many shy children, he feels like he suffers this shyness alone.
What makes your book different from others in its genre?
I like to think that in my book I have delved more deeply into Samuel’s life, and also into Angelica’s, and that the reader is brought to a fuller understanding of what makes a shy child shy—and also the forces that drive such children to want to reach out to those around them.
What inspired you to write your book?
My own childhood. Because, you see, Samuel Jordan is really Kirby Jonas, and very thinly disguised. For me, because of that fact, it was a very healing book to write.
How did you come up with the title?
I wanted to write something with the inspirational word “angel” in the title, and since the main character’s name was Angelica and was, indeed, like an angel sent specifically for him, it fit like a glove—sorry for another poor cliché!
What’s your favorite part of it, without giving anything away of course?
For me, of course, since it was about me, my favorite part was re-living my twelve-year-old childhood, trying to discover what made me “tick.”
Tell me about your writing process?
Ironically, since this book is in the inspirational category, I will answer your question by saying my writing process is very inspirational. I create characters very loosely in my head, and then I take them and we run and play and work and fight together until we all know each other inside and out, and then I have a book. That’s when the work starts, because I proofread each book ten to twenty times.
What do you find most difficult about writing?
Staying on task, because I have more than one hundred other plots I want to write about and hate to leave those other “people” hanging—my other characters, that is.
Are you a full-time writer?
Not for four more years and two months.
What are your writing ambitions?
BIG question. I want to publish a 30 book series of religious fiction based from 600 B.C. to 400 A.D. I want to finish one Western series and start and finish four others. I want to write a firefighter/police drama series encompassing all my years in emergency services. And I want the world to love my books.
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
Read. Watch movies. Go for a walk. Meditate. Ride horses. I am also an artist and paint my own covers, but unfortunately, when I get writer’s block I generally also have painter’s block. If the time is write, I pick up my guitar and sing my heart out.
Do you outline and plot your book as you’re writing or does it go where it goes?
As I said before, most of the time it just goes. I have outlined books in the past and been just as successful in doing so, but generally only stick to 50% of the outline, because my characters will take a stand and tell me they are NOT doing certain things, and I must accommodate them most times. And most times they are right.
What is your favorite book?
That is such a difficult question, and one that might possibly lead readers to think I’m an egotist. I think my favorite book is one I wrote entitled Samuel’s Angel. Yes, this very book I’ve just published. I think a “favorite book” must have all the elements of writing that one loves and a subject that is dear to one’s heart, and of course Samuel’s Angel, my own book, has all of that. Otherwise, I adore To Kill a Mockingbird.
Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
I like Richard Paul Evans, John Grisham. Not that they are new, but for me they are. I also enjoyed Elmer Kelton’s Westerns, but he is not a new writer either.
Are you self published or traditionally published? Do you wish you had gone about the process differently?
I was formerly traditionally published, but when I learned that I was doing 90% of the work for 10% of the revenue, I created my own publishing company in 1997. I have never regretted it and have turned down two major publishers who have wanted to take over my work.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
READ!!!! And listen if a lot of people seem to be giving you the same advice. Don’t get stubborn. Don’t get married to any particular piece of your work or any style. You may later regret being stubborn. Most of all, never give up.
If you could have dinner with any person dead or alive who would it be?
I would like to sit to dinner with Jesus, but I am afraid I would never want to let him go.
When you aren’t writing, what do you do for fun?
I think I answered that mostly before as well, but to re-cap, I love to be with horses, dogs, snakes (yes, I know, very strange), and I love to be at the gym bodybuilding, which has been a passion for 36 years. Mostly, I love to play my music and listen to great music by others—Celtic, the Classics, New Age, and Western are all at the top of my list.
If you could say anything to your readers, what would it be?
Give new writers a chance. At least read one page, two, three—something! Don’t ever discount a potential favorite new writer.
What's your biggest fear?
Losing my wife and kids, or way secondary to that, being locked in a tight box and left to die.
Who is the most annoying character you've ever encountered in a book, on tv or in a movie?
Possibly Jar Jar Binks, in Phantom Menace
If you were on death row, what would you choose for a final meal?
Steak and potatoes, and my wife’s apple pie
What is your biggest pet peeve?
RAP . I won’t put the word “music” behind it, because it does not fit.
If you knew you could get away with anything without consequence, what would you do?
I would make love to my wife on a crowded beach, and THAT is something I have never admitted to anyone!
What is your biggest regret in life?
Not being a better husband many years sooner. Not taking my little boy on that “one last hike” of Autumn.
If you had Doctor Who's TARDIS, what time would you travel to?
I would like to spend 3 years walking with Jesus and watching his miracles.
What is the best present you ever received?
A Johnny West action figure and horse when I was two and a half years old, a Johnny West action figure and horse when I was six years old, or a phone call from actor James Drury telling me that he loved the book I gave to him as a gift and would like to read all of my books on audio.
What's your secret guilty pleasure movie you don't want to admit you love?
What is your most prized material possession?
WOW! You don’t ask tough questions! Michelle, I think that would have to be a Colt .45 revolver that is never fired but reminds me of all the Western movies I used to watch with my daddy, who died when I was 16.
Where can we find you?
Blog: My blogs are all at Kirby Jonas’s blogs on www.blogger.com
From Montana, the Jonas family moved almost as far across the country as they could go, to Broad Run, Virginia, to a place that, although not as deep in the timbered mountains as Bear Canyon, was every bit as remote. Once again, young Jonas spent his time mostly alone, or with his older brother and sister, if they were not in school. Jonas learned to hike with his mother, fish with his father, and to dodge an unruly horse—the hard way.
The Jonases moved to Shelley, Idaho, in 1971, and from that time forth, with the exception of brief sojourns in France and Arizona, Jonas became an Idahoan. Jonas attended all twelve years of school in Shelley, graduating in 1983. In the sixth grade, he penned his first novel, then called The Tumbleweed, and in high school he wrote his second, The Vigilante. Jonas has been employed as a Wells Fargo armored guard, a wildland firefighter in seven Western states, a security guard, and police officer. He is currently employed as a municipal firefighter for the city of Pocatello, Idaho.
He and his wife, Debbie, live in Pocatello, where they raised their four children, Cheyenne Kaycee, Jacob Talon, Clay Logan and Matthew Morgan.