I have a pretty varied group of Internet friends, all of whom are interesting and dynamic and unique. Jason Mayo is one of them. He's got a great wit, a great perspective on women (he has a house full of them) and a big heart. It's that heart that led him to write a book for which all proceeds go to charity. I sent Jason a Q&A about his book, "Do Witches Make Fishes?"
1. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself. Who are you and why exactly are you on the Internet? (I jest. Who isn't on the Internet, other than my Grandma?) Where can our readers find you if they want to get to know you better?
Well, my name is Jason and I'm gonna be 40 years old in a couple of months. This means that I'm too young to retire and too old for chicks to think I'm hot anymore. I'm losing the hair on my head but it's growing back on my ears, my back and the top of my shoulders. Luckily I have a wife that still thinks I'm handsome and two daughters that are too young to know any better. I also write a Dad blog called Out-Numbered where I make some pretty bad decisions a couple of times a week and my first children's book just came out about a month ago. I need a nap.
2. So. You wrote a book called. "Do Witches Make Fishes?" What is the book about?
Well, the book is about a young boy who favors candy over his Mom's healthy but really weird looking dishes. Eventually he's faced with an ultimatum from his Mother and he has to make a choice. What ensues is a series of extraordinary and fantastical events. I used to love Dr. Seuss as a kid but I'm also a huge horror buff, so it was only natural for me to try and introduce a little bit of the two into the story. I think the combination makes it pretty unique. It's like a cross between Dr. Seuss and Clive Barker. Aside from being fun to read and filled with tons of cool illustrations, it has a really important message for kids about making healthy choices and listening to your parents. That was something I really wanted to work into the story because I haven't seen that many good new children's books dealing with eating healthy and it's a real problem with kids in our country today.
3. How was the process of creating the book? Was it as hard as we've heard, or what is easier than expected?
I'm the kind of person that likes to have things done perfect and fast. Not one or the other. So it was a really difficult exercise in patience for me. In all honesty, the first draft of the story took me about 2 or 3 hours to write and then it took about 8 months to finish fine tuning the story and perfecting the drawings with my illustrator. I really enjoyed that collaboration. It was amazing for me to see my story come to life through the eyes of another human being. I'm just happy he didn't kill me for annoying him with my changes day in and day out. There was a lot of back and forth on multiple levels. My editor was really helpful with the story arc as well as, phrasing and what not but I think some of the most valuable feedback, came from the multitude of teachers, school administrators and parents alike that took the time to read and comment on the book. I didn't think it was going to be that arduous a process but then again, I'm usually wrong about most things.
4. Now that you're on the other side and on the published side of things, is it what you envisioned it to be?
The truth is, I never envisioned anything. I never even envisioned writing a blog, let alone have people that read it. I'm just really happy that I actually followed through with it because it feels good to have accomplished something. I think my wife and kids are proud of me and that's pretty much more than I could ever wish for. I think the biggest thing for me is that I don't allow myself to feel a ton of pressure. I'm not doing this to make a living. I'm lucky enough to have a full time gig that allows me to do this sort of stuff in my spare time. It's a labor of love really.
5. Rumor has it that the book's proceeds go to charity. OK, fine. It's not a rumor - it's the truth. SO COOL. Which charity gets to benefit from all of your hard work?
Yes, you are correct. All of the profits from the book (my royalties) go to a terrific charity called the Garden of Dreams foundation. The charity works closely with all areas of Madison Square Garden, including the New York Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, MSG Media, MSG Entertainment and Fuse to make dreams come true for kids in crisis. About a year ago, my best friend found out he had cancer and one of our sports heroes, Adam Graves of the New York Rangers, did a pretty amazing thing for us. I wrote a blog about it called, "Hockey Heals". That experience opened my eyes to a whole new world of thinking. It really was a spiritual experience that changed my life and I made a decision to make giving back a priority in my life. I originally wrote the book for my oldest daughter and her 2nd grade class but I thought it would be a cool way to raise money for The Garden Of Dreams if I could get a bunch of people to buy it. So far it's working and I'm grateful for all of the support and love I've found along the way. I'm pretty psyched because I've started to do readings at schools, libraries and local community fairs etc. I'll also be working with the Garden of Dreams and doing events, hospital readings and other great stuff to help put smiles on kids faces. I just hope the kids don't think the book sucks.
You can find all of the info about the book, the charity, my inspiration and where to buy it at: http://www.dowitchesmakefishes.com
Thanks so much, Jason. We're happy to be able to feature this book (and the Garden of Dreams foundation) here at Daily Grommet. I'm sure our community members would love to buy a book that is not only a fun read for kids, but gives back to those in need.