Certainly it is true that when I wrote The Pyewiz and the Amazing Mobile Phone, it was partially inspired by a tradesman who was a pirate in all but profession. But there has always been an inner need in me to fulfill a long held idea, that writing a book might in fact be therapeutic. I discovered that whenever I wrote, be it a letter or an essay, I found that it eased certain mental tensions. The act of writing seemed to calm my mind, and fulfilled a part of me which would ordinarily seek activity in the real world. I discovered that it satisfied my need for action. It also clarified certain thoughts that I had about things in general. As my father once said, one finds inspiration in the act of writing. So I wondered, what would happen if I committed myself to a bigger project, a science fiction or fantasy project perhaps. Would it lead to some kind of personal epiphany? Would I discover the real me lurking behind my creation? Science fiction fantasy has the latitude to take the individual anywhere he wants. So I set about looking for a ‘big’ subject, a possible adventure story for young adults. Something that would fill 400 pages, which would equate to roughly a year in my life, if I were to write one page a day. Well one day, I found my big subject in the form of a ‘big’ workman, a man who came to shift some garbage for me. He had a couple of helpmates with him, and they all immediately struck me as being slightly old fashioned, anachronistic, people who might well have been around 300 years ago. They dressed in unfashionable clothing, and spoke in a kind of English ‘dialect’ all of their own. It was English but with a quaint East Sussex twang to it, filled with home spun colloquialisms which were without the usual bad language associated with workman. It was colourful and rich. I was spell bound! Then it hit me. Pirates! Yes, these guys could definitely have been pirates from another time and place, pretending to be workman! They became the inspiration for my book. I even took their names for my characters, Terry and Will. The big guy was to become my ‘Pyewiz’. After I paid them for the work they had done, I knew that they would continue to live on in my mind. And so almost immediately, the concept of the book took shape. I also felt that I wanted to take my science fiction fantasy adventure story not only to the ends of the earth, but out into space itself. Perhaps to Pluto. So I settled on Charon, one of Pluto’s moons and created a world for the Pyewiz there. I also gave him creature comforts, stem cells, a personal robot servant, galleons, muskets, all the piratical paraphenalia, but it was a world without water, only snow and ice. And to cap it all, I decided that the Pyewiz should have something special, a prop, a wonder widget, something unique to him – an Amazing Mobile Phone!
Herbert Howard Jones was born in London in 1955, and went to Eccles Hall, a boarding school in Norfolk. He left after a couple of years and attended IIford County High School in Barkingside where he where he met Bram Tovey, now conductor of the Vancouver Symphony orchestra, and pianist Derek Smith who later played with the Johhny Dankworth ensemble. They inspired Jones to take up music, which he still practices today.
Jones attended Lisburn college in Ireland and then worked in a wide variety of occupations. These included in law, as a porter at the BBC, in jewellery manufacture, publishing, and commercial art. As a BBC porter he was required to hump equipment between studios and could be spotted riding shotgun around London in the old green BBC vans of that time. He was eventually sacked for lateness!
He then found a job in a Hatton Garden jewellery firm in London. As an apprentice jeweller he was required to assemble twenty-two 14 carat gold gate bracelets a day. In the two years he spent in the business he had personally made nearly 12000 bracelets, which was quite a feat, but was mind numbing work, and not something he wanted to do with the rest of his life. At this stage he didn’t know what avenue to go down next.
But the clue lay in his early life. As a young boy, he showed an early interest in the arts, particularly writing, musical composition and painting, and has pursued them as interests ever since. At this time he met the daughter of the captain of the Titanic, which sank in 1912, and consequently became obsessed with the myth which surrounded the subject. Jones remembers handling Titantic artifacts in the lady’s cottage country, and thinking that they made beautiful art ornaments! They inspired Jones to start creating collages using old bric-a brac, attaching small objects to canvas and applying paint to them.
In his teens, Jones lived with the family of author Julian Branston, whose mother was a close confidant of British comic Kenneth Williams. They introduced Jones to writer and poet John Pudney, famed as the author of wartime poem ‘For Johnny’. As busy as he was, Pudney would give kindly critiques of Jones’ earlier writings, urging Jones to say ‘more with less’. Jones described his writing efforts at this time as pretentious and undisciplined, and was frankly lucky, that ‘Pudney gave him the time of day,’
Jones found John Pudney fascinating as, among other things, he knew Pablo Picasso personally, having met him as a reporter during the war. To the aspiring and awe struck Jones, this was all glamorous grist for this artistic mill. At this time he became fascinated by celebrity, which was hardly surprising considering that his benefactors frequently had prominent people down to dinner, including the Bishop of Liverpool and others.
When Jones worked for a firm of ‘showbiz’ solicitors in London, he ran errands for screen star John Mills, and composer Tony Hatch, but felt that life as a London commuter just wasn’t for him, and so he ‘dropped’ out and went to live in Deptford. Jones justified this to himself by saying this was his ‘down and out in Paris and London period’.
Jones moved around South London and finally settled in some lodgings in Lewisham which were also being occupied by the now international artist David Mabb, presently Head of Masters at Goldsmith’s college, from whom he acquired wonderful discarded art pieces. Mabb’s charismatic and confident personality had an inspiring effect on Jones who began to look at art in a new light. In Jones’ eyes, David Mabb was ‘one of the solid group of British artists who are exponents of a new kind of socially responsible art, which is dynamic and very much at the cutting edge.’ In Jones’ view, Mabb’s art not only succeeds powerfully as a room decoration, but it invokes a strong visceral response in the viewer. If Jones was going to paint, he wanted his art to be as eloquent as Mabb’s! At the time of writing, Jones is still struggling to achieve this goal. Jones cites US artist Ron English, as his other influence.
Meeting well known people and those active in the arts and entertainment industries had the effect of shaping Jones’ view of the world, and he vowed that one day, he too would make a contribution. It was only in his fifties that
Jones has seriously sought publication. The Pyewiz and The Amazing Mobile Phone is his first book.
At the present time Jones is busily writing his second book and is painting. He hopes to have his first exhibition of art in London in the near future.
Jones’ most thrilling life moment: ‘being six feet away from Frank Sinatra when he came to the London Palladium!’
You can visit his website at www.science-fiction-fantasy.com.