Photo by Tracy Jolley
Dan Jolley began writing professionally at the age of 19. Since starting out in comic books, he has worked for DC (Firestorm), Marvel (Dr. Strange), Dark Horse (Aliens), and Image (G.I. Joe). He later branched out into licensed-property novels (Star Trek), film novelizations (Iron Man), and original novels, including the urban fantasy series Five Elements and the Audible Original House of Teeth. Working with Erin Hunter, he has scripted the manga stories set in the Warriors universe. Dan lives with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert felines in northwest Georgia. Readers can learn more about him at www.danjolley.com.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
I got into science fiction REALLY early, with E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series. It was great—Smith did not anticipate the development of the computer, so he had all his guys flying around in spaceships, navigating by whipping out their slide-rules and consulting their books of algorithms. The books don’t hold up so well now, but I loved them more than words when I was ten.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
This is going to sound terrible, but all my favorite single lines are from movies or TV. After Burt Gummer gets taken by surprised by subterranean monsters in the movie Tremors 2, he makes it to safety and says, very drily, “I feel I was denied critical, need-to-know information.” I almost ruptured myself laughing at that.
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
The ones that were most influential on me growing up were Larry Niven, Dean Koontz, and Louis L’Amour, without doubt. My current favorites . . . hmmm . . . Charlaine Harris, definitely. Can I count her three times?
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I was effectively an only child growing up—my brother and sister are both much older than I am, and they were both gone to college by the time I was eight—and I didn’t have any playmates, really, so I just had to come up with ways to entertain myself. I started making up stories, and found out I was decent at putting words together on a page, and it just went from there. I decided I was going to be a professional writer when I was 13, and I’ve never wavered from that vision since then.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
The first, biggest, and most important rule, is the one you always hear (but it remains true): a writer writes. If you’re not writing, basically all the time, every day, you’re not a writer. You might be somebody who thinks about writing, or maybe one day sort of hopes to aspire to be a writer, but you’re not a writer. A writer writes. That’s the only way to learn the craft; that’s the only way to get better at it.