Connect with the Author
About the Book
The Riddle Me Collection is a consortium of conundra that rather than relying on the metaphorical or allegorical, present a word in its idiomatic context. It is, for instance, a book. You may therefore judge it, though you can’t imprison; have reservations, though they’ll only hold for a period; or read it, as you would a person. The latter being the most enjoyable. Only Jack Brutus Penny, nonsense author, illustrator and English lecturer, could bring such boundless imagination speckled with fascinating etymologies and trivia, and scattered with poems and illustrations to tie the whole read into a wonderful experience.
Volume One: A Stone’s Throw contains 200 riddles from the collection, meticulously delivered for the first time. The volume is divided into three parts: the riddles, the answers, and the explanations provided. Though you’ll find nothing is quite as easy as it sounds.
Keep reading for an interview with the author:
Why did you decide to be a writer?
In fact I consider myself an illustrator before a writer. As opposed to most who balance the professions, I tend to start by making an illustration, and then write the fanciful story around it. This rather aids in my spontaneous genre of nonsense.
Do you have a "day job"? If so, what do you do?
I have a variety of jobs at the moment. Writing and illustrating my work is in fact my full-time job. But I am also a head English lecturer and English-Japanese interpreter among other things.
What genres do you write?
I write in nonsense, the dreamlike world where the inexplicable is everyday, and that which makes no sense becomes rather sensible. I take this genre further as a linguist, as words themselves aren't bound by any definite laws.
What are your goals as an author? Where do you see yourself in five years?
As an author I suppose my ultimate goal is to create the kinds of worlds of Lewis Carroll, or as depicted by Bruegel, that people of all ages can become lost in. Worlds that both feel uncomfortable yet utterly thrilling, and that challenge the readers both mentally and emotionally.
What made you decide to self-publish?
As an illustrator as well as writer, I wanted the freedom to shape the book exactly as I saw it. I decided to self-publish to keep as much of the creative control as possible, to bring my readers books of intimate designs riddled with tidbits and surprise amusements.
What is your writing process?
I start with an idea. It may be the answer to a question I haven't yet asked. It may be a slip-of-tongue that evoked a feeling of real satisfaction. Or it may be an illustration that I was inspired to draw. I then start the slightly more methodological process of explaining it, at least in as much as I must within my worlds. The character in one of my stories for instance, ends up seeing their reflection in the water from the bank, having gone there to speak to the bank staff, for as tellers they may be wise, but must surely at least be able to tell him something.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me, as perhaps it does many, an insurmountable, or at least indefinable, amount of time to come up with an idea that I like, and moments for the story to flow from it. Since I write all sorts of stories from short novella, collections of riddles or proverbs, to full novels, each book naturally differs in length and time. The latest book, an illustrated collection of 200 riddles, took perhaps half a year.
Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?
As an Englishman in Tokyo I'm surrounded by the peculiar, and having been here so long, when I return home I even see things that I think should not be. I write stories of worlds full of things that should not be yet reasonably are. Naturally the world and people around me inspire characters and story arches. That being said, my biggest inspiration is language itself.
What are you working on now?
I have recently released a book of 200 riddles, called From the Riddle Me Collection Volume One: A Stone's Throw. It presents riddles, to quote, 'some rather difficult and others unreasonably so.' It is a book. You may therefore judge it, though you can’t imprison; have reservations, though they’ll only hold for a period; or read it, as you would a person. The latter being the most enjoyable. So if you enjoy a few meticulously detailed illustrations, revel in the use of language, and covet chances to stretch your mind and challenge your elasticity of thought, it's a book written for you.
What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?
The hardest part for this piece is rather specific in fact. The hardest part was working out how to display the answers. I didn't want to spread the answers out, I wanted to use them as a breaker in the middle of the text. However, if they were all presented together, seeing one would reveal them all. I tackled this by asking my channel for advise, and together deciding to use a cryptograph. Well you'll just have to see what that means, but suffice to say, even checking the answers is a challenging befuddlement in itself.
Do you have anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?
If you enjoy logical nonsense. If you enjoy mentally challenging yourself with devilish linguistic conundra, then please do support my work by following the links and order a copy today. Also, feel free to explore my website and even contact me directly through it. So while this may be a plug, it is fitting is it not? Since it is intended for the brightest of sparks.