Jeff Norton is an award-winning author, writer-producer, and the founder of Awesome, a UK based production & publishing company.
As an author, Jeff’s first novel, ‘MetaWars: Fight For The Future’, is a high-tech thriller about the fight for the internet that has spurred three sequels. He also co-wrote the rock-n-roll thriller ‘Keeping the Beat’, and his Victorian crime novel ‘Looking Glass’ is in development with Ruby Rock Pictures for television.
1. Tell us about your upcoming book Dino Knights. How does it differ from your previous publications?
Dino Knights is something very different, and very special. It’s a chapter book for readers in the 7–9 age bracket (though younger and older readers are welcome!) and it’s the start of a series. Lately, I’ve been writing for older middle grade readers and YA, so it’s a joy to write something that I hope will help to build a lifelong love of reading. If medieval knights on the backs of dinosaurs can’t do that, what can?
2. What inspired you to write Dino Knights?
The inspiration came to me in the middle of the night. Now, lots of authors might say that and share that they woke up with a great idea. Not me. I was already awake. It was in the middle of the night and my toddler son, Torin, was awake and believed it was time to party. We were playing in the living room and all of the toys were out of the toy box (of course!) and he placed a toy knight on the back of his brother’s plastic dinosaurs and the Eureka moment struck. The next day I drew a crude picture of a ‘Dino Knight’ and the idea was born!
3. Is there a specific message you would like to leave with your readers, both children and adults?
I think the key message from the book is about individual accountability. The main character, Henry doesn’t make any excuses for himself. He doesn’t complain about his lot in life, and he never grumbles when he finds himself in a series of very dangerous (and life-threatening) situations. He puts one foot in front of the other (or one claw in the front of the other if he’s riding Rex) and gets on with the business of saving his little corner of the world. I think all too often it’s easy (and convenient) to make excuses, but each of us is the driver of our own destiny and I’m a big believer in the power of choice. Henry chooses to risk himself to save Lord Harding… the rest of the adventure stems from there. Sometimes we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and when we do, the adventure commences.
4. What inspired the central themes of Dino Knights: bravery and loyalty?
I wanted to write about a time in a young person’s life when they suddenly felt like they had to grow up very quickly. It might be your first sleepover. Or when you first play competitive sports or have a solo on stage. Or it could be when you change schools. Whatever it is, there’s going to be a time when you feel like the world suddenly got bigger (and maybe scarier) and so I thought it’d be fun to explore that feeling in a fantasy setting.
5. Tell us a little about your writing and publishing process – how does a book develop from conception to publication in your experience?
When I write, I like to know where I’m going. So, I try to build to a great ending. This book took me a while to write (and had several false starts) because I didn’t quite know the best ending. I also believe that stories should come from and reveal character, so I spent a lot of time making sure each character was distinct and unique. This book is different from my other novels that are published by big, traditional publishers. In the last year, my production company (I also make TV) started an imprint called Awesome Reads (and works closely with whitefox) and so Awesome Reads is the publisher of Dino Knights. There is a team of professionals at Awesome Reads (editorial, marketing, sales, design) that mirrors the same functions at a big publisher but I was able to skip the step of trying to sell the book to a large publisher and instead focused my time and energy on making the book the best possible version of itself.
6. What’s next for you after publication, can we expect a sequel?
Most definitely! Dino Knights is designed to be the first in a series and I’m working on the second book right now. We are also developing the book for television, working with two amazing companies (OmniFilm Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company) to bring the Dino Knights to the screen as a live-action (think Jurassic Park) show for families to enjoy together.
7. And finally, are there any writing tips you would offer to aspiring authors?
The most important thing to do is to write. Every day. I meet a lot of people who say they ‘want’ to write but don’t actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Writers write. It’s what they do. If you want to write, stop wanting and start writing. Give yourself a small, daily challenge, maybe only 250 words per day (that’s one A4 page) and you’ll be amazed how the compound effect will produce a book in what’ll feel like a very short amount of time. Oh, and find other writers to support you. Writing is a lonely game and one of the best things about social media is that there are so many lovely, supportive writers out there to have a virtual ‘water cooler chat’ with.