Interview with Jo Sparkes, author of ‘The Agben School’

Jo SparkesA well-known Century City Producer once said that Jo Sparkes “…writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read.” Her body of work includes scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, commercial work for corporate clients. She won the 2012 Kay Snow award for her screenplay, Frank Retrieval.

She’s written numerous articles for internet sites. As a member of the Pro Football Writer’s Association, she was a contributing writer for the Arizona Sports Fans Network, where she was known for her humorous articles, player interviews and game coverage. Jo was unofficially the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he arrived in Arizona to play for the Cardinals.

She served as an adjunct teacher at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, and wrote “Feedback How to Give It How to Get It” for writers, actors, and other artists.

Her latest book is the fantasy, The Agben School.

For More Information

About the Book:

The Agben School 2Agben had stood for a thousand years. A mysterious school housing more than students, it was the seat of the powerful Women of Agben, and the center for harnessing the potency of herbs. Few knew all that transpired within the walls.

And now Marra stood at its gate.

Friends and support stripped from her, the fragile life she’d built for herself now lay in tatters. And the source of this evil hunted her like a deer culled from the herd.

The gateway before her was her only hope.

For as the city itself crumbled, all depended not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the valiant men who’d brought them this far.

Everything depended on finding a magic powder in the vaults of Agben itself.

Everything depended on her.

For More Information

  • The Agben School is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
  • Read Chapter One here.

What made you decide to become a published author?

Writing, I honestly believe, is almost an addiction. Ultimately I’m not sure I had any real choice.

If I don’t get my proper writing time allotted, if I don’t reach a satisfying point that morning, the entire day feels lost to me. I’m never quite happy.

When I do hit that point, there’s a deep, satisfying feeling. All day long, no matter what happens, I’m content. As if the really important thing is done, so nothing else matters.

Would you consider your latest book, The Agben School, to be a one of a kind? How so?

The Agben School is the second in a trilogy – and yes, the story is a bit unique. I wanted to capture the essence of a true athlete – the competition, the heroism, the sheer thrill of trying for your goal. And discover how that same drive translates to the warrior world as well.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

I have a home in the trees. We live on the second floor, and all we see out the windows is forest. Kind of like Rivendell – without the pointed ears.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

Don’t sell yourself out.

Writing is an art. It’s creating, sharing a vision, a story. Just be sure that when you hand that story off to others, you’re proud to put your name on it.

If you get into writing solely for the money – well, damn! You are in for one heckuva surprise.

What inspires you?

People. Normal, regular humans doing extraordinary things. A homeless guy returning cash he’d found. A passerby leaping into freezing water to try to rescue an airplane victim.

That choice life sometimes offers, to keep going with your regularly scheduled day, or impulsively leap off a cliff into the unknown.

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book. What’s the first ingredient?

For me, it’s the people in it. The characters.

My first writing teacher said that a dam breaking or a volcano erupting is just a documentary. What brings it alive, makes it real, is the people in the story. They’re the connect for the rest of humanity. Who were they, how did they get there? And what did they do?

A story’s events are the roller coaster tracks, if you will. They lay the path of the ride. But the cart – the other half – is the characters. If your readers don’t want to ride along, your brilliant tracks are worthless.

What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?

I’ve been researching herbs, such as Marra uses, with a Chinese expert. And learning quite a lot!

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

A few. As odd as it sounds, the self-defense that Tryst teaches Marra is all from Chinese Kenpo karate. There was a time when I actually taught that.

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