On Tuesday 16th September Jasper Cooper, author of The Kingdom of the Gems and Gordo, came to Rose Hill to talk to Year 6 for Roald Dahl Week. In his talk, Jasper told us about his life, why he became an author and the people who have helped him, and the inspiration for his stories. Jasper also illustrates his books and he told us where his ideas for these come from as well.
Jasper began by telling us that he was a shy child who didn’t like crowds. When he turned twenty, Jasper started to learn how to play the guitar. He obtained an art degree, got married and had two children, Rebecca and Joseph. Jasper is also a keen tennis player and represents England in the over 60’s team. Last year he won the over 60’s doubles and came runner up this year.
Jasper started writing recently and he has really enjoyed it. He has now written four books and is working on two more at the moment. He came up with the idea for his first book (which is called ‘Candara’s Gift’) when he was telling a bedtime story to his children. His children really liked the idea of it so he started writing a chapter a day in a notebook with illustrations. It took him three months to finish writing the book and then put the notebook down, only to return to it a few years later when he found it again. He started to rewrite the story but this time, with more detail and he improved his drawings.
Once the book was finished, he sent it off to two publishers but one publisher lost the copy and the over one said no. Jasper then decided to self-publish his book with the help of his son Joseph, who is very good with computers. On the first day of publication, Candara’s Gift became a best seller on Amazon. I found it amazing to think that a children’s bedtime story can become the Amazon best seller on its first day.
Jasper’s books are published in two countries: England and Turkey. Jasper also said that when he writes he doesn’t want to stop and he works very hard on his illustrations. Many of his drawings start out as a rough sketch but slowly, he starts playing with the colours and details to create a wonderful painting.
Jasper explained that he likes animals a lot and that is why some are given main roles in his stories. He even wrote a book that is all about a monkey called Gordo who goes up into space. When he comes back down to Earth, people try to capture him so they can make money out of him. It is up to a boy and his cousin to save Gordo. This story is based on an actual monkey, also called Gordo, who was sent up into space for the first time in 1958. Jasper also told us that he found it easier to paint animals when he can have a model in front of him. He showed us a model of a Snowy Owl and an albatross, raven and squirrel monkey toy which he uses to draw various characters for the Kingdom of the Gems books.
Jasper told us that he works at home in his garden because in his garden he has a chalet. The chalet has one side where Jasper works on his illustrations and other artwork, and on the other side he has a laptop where he can write all his stories. Jasper says that sometimes when he paints it gives him an idea to write a story. He gave us the example that he is now working on a story about a cat and the idea for this story came from a painting he made of his cats. Jasper thinks the best thing about writing is that he can link his two passions in together to create a wonderful book.
After telling us all about being an author he answered some of our questions, and then he did a book signing.
Altogether I think it was a very enjoyable talk, which would inspire people to write books and think about becoming an author. Thank you to everyone who organised the event.
by Anna (Year 6)