David Jones

David Jones was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1956. When he was six, his family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, and settled in West Vancouver, where he grew up.

As a child, David was big on keeping tropical fish and building dams in a stream that ran through his family's backyard. The remainder of his time was spent on a tricycle, circling an oil spot on the garage floor. A paper route in a wealthy neighborhood filled with dogs taught him how to read canine body language.

When not reading dogs, he was reading an anthology called Fifty Famous Fairy Tales. He was fascinated by these stories in which punishment was always meted out to the wicked and happily-ever-after to the good. By comparison, real life has proven to be something of a disappointment in this regard.

He began writing short stories in high school. Most were about people forced to confront the unbelievable, stories that strained credulity and had an element of the bizarre. Growing up, he couldn’t decide whether he wanted to be Rod Serling or Jacques Cousteau. Once enrolled at the University of British Columbia, David compromised by working his way toward a Bachelor of Science degree while at the same time taking at least one creative writing course each year.

Before becoming a full-time writer he worked in the bush, collecting sediment and soil samples for mining exploration, counted salmon fry on a dredge on the Fraser River, and painted houses.

David’s professional writing career began with putting together teacher manuals for high school courses. Since then, he has written scripts for a live interactive show at the NASA Space Center in Houston, exhibits at the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Science and Technology Center in Saudi Arabia, and science centers around the world. For several years he wrote articles on photography for Photo Life magazine.

Among David’s favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Cormac McCarthy, and David Mamet, who once said, “I admire anyone who can make his living in his underwear.” Mamet was talking about Superman, but Jones believes it applies equally to writers.

David has been interested in artificial intelligence since he was 10 years old, when he saw the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was fascinated by the character of HAL and the consequences of humans creating a sentient being. That movie and a much less well-known one about a computer that takes over the world, called Colossus: The Forbin Project, were the inspirations for Mighty Robots: Mechanical Marvels That Fascinate and Frighten (2005).  Baboon (2007), is a riveting story of one teenager’s journey into the heart of the primate world.

For aspiring authors, David’s advice is this: Write (because if you’re a writer, you have no choice), but develop an expertise in some other area as well. Knowing the craft is important, but so is having something to write about.

David thinks the worst thing about writing for children is that your audience is mute. There are no children running publishing companies or producing television shows. Instead, you deal with their parents, each of whom has a different idea of what children want to read or see (usually based on their own kids’ preferences). In fact, children are just as varied and individual as adults, and there are few generalizations that you can make about them. He doesn't have children, but was once a child himself and has kept a pair of tiny shoes to prove it.

He enjoys film, photography, hiking, scuba diving, and fish; whenever he visits another city, he always checks out the aquarium.

He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Annick Press books
by David Jones