Jonra Springs is definitely a Renaissance man, with a wide variety of skill sets and an amazing ability to adapt to his circumstances. He has just published his first book, which is Episode 1 in a unique “written” cartoon series.
I caught up with him to find out more . . .
Jonra Springs: My background is a bit varied. I sang in rock bands and worked as a DJ in radio, but I also taught preschool, worked as an aviation mechanic, built boats and did a lot of restaurant jobs in between gigs. Once my age began to show, the only radio job I could get in a top 20 market was in a news department. That’s what I was doing when I started writing fiction. After that I did some freelance writing. Now I’m selling hot tubs in Colorado. Between customers I get time to work on author stuff.
Melanie Rockett: How did you transition from writing “the news” to writing fiction and cartoons?
Jonra Springs: I didn’t like working as a news anchor. You hear about EVERY heinous thing someone does. There’s also not much creativity in lining up information and spitting out a story when all the facts have been provided.
I wrote two skits for voice demos to use with applications for other jobs. They both had a lot of characters so I could use several different voices. A few things kept me from ever recording them.
While reading the Left Behind series by LaHaye and Jenkins, I wondered how they would present an upcoming plague. The simple answer left me still: by putting words on paper. It was a revelation. I knew that all the wild and eccentric things I’d imagined could be brought to life in stories by doing the same thing. I was typing thousands of words a day for news reports already. I expanded on my two sketches and added characters I wouldn’t be able to voice myself.
One of them became a cartoon series with the horse I had imagined 25 years beforehand, Eusta Diddoo, as the star. The other is now a sci-fi novel called Hiro Mac – Braided Dimensions. I got a chance to develop both while recovering from back surgery when I had to “practice” sitting up. Writing was a good diversion.
Melanie Rockett: Your book title, “Eusta Diddoo – Runaway Pony – Episode 1: Fired Up: A Cartoon in Print” is very curious and prompts two questions. First of all, how did you come up with the name, Eusta Diddoo? And secondly, WHAT is a “Cartoon in Print”?
Jonra Springs: Funny you should ask about the name I actually did a blog post on that story- http://www.jonrasprings.com/2015/05/how-do-you-come-up-with-name-like-eusta.html
I had been thinking about this horse running through the animated scenes of a farm and rural town for days with no name to call him. Then a six-year-old told me about something that he and his brother used to did do. I was struck with the cadence of the words matching up with clopping hoofbeats. The spelling would have to be adjusted and the U shaped into a horseshoe, but what a great name for the horse!
This horse was imagined as a cartoon character so the whole series was originally drafted as scripts for an animated series. I wrote sixteen episodes and a full length movie as such. It was my first writing project and has still been the most fun. Although I had no success in pitching the idea to any of the top animation producers.
I decided to convert the series to books, but I kept all the descriptions of visual and sound effects that were intended to happen in the cartoon. Readers should enjoy visions of flashes and smoke while hearing the echo of small explosions as characters change appearance in an instant. It’s like reading your way through a cartoon episode. That’s what I mean by “a Cartoon in Print.”
Melanie Rockett: What is the focus of the first episode, and where will Eusta Diddoo’s journeys take him?
Jonra Springs: The first episode was not one of the original sixteen. There was a twenty second intro planned for the cartoon show that briefly explained how the whole situation got started. Then we threw the audience right into the horse’s happening double life.
For the sake of book series, I wanted to tell the story of how this pony got off the farm in the first place and discovered life in the town. Then we see what he did to make himself a part of it. I expanded on the introduction and pulled some things out of the existing episodes that were used as flashbacks and wrote them out in chronological order.
That’s the focus of Fired Up. It’s the pilot episode that gives readers the background to understand what’s going on for the rest of the series.
There are quite a few other places the series will take our beloved pony. He’ll meet mythical characters, battle invading aliens, play cards with the star of a monster movie- yes the monster, visit Indianapolis for the famous race, get sucked into a tornado to meet with the weather bureau, and he will travel through time backwards and forward while trying to get to Bethlehem for Christmas. It’s a lot of ground for a horse to cover, but he pulls it off with the help of his friends- both human and equine.
Melanie Rockett: I suspect it will take you a bit of time to publish all the Eusta Diddoo Episodes. Do you have any other projects on the go?
Jonra Springs: Yes it will be quite a while before the whole Eusta Diddoo series is available. I plan to get the first three books out before moving on to any other projects. Then I want to get cracking on that sci-fi novel for adults and young adults. I also have picture book stories for young children and fantasy tales for middle graders.
I’m an indie author, so they all have to wait until I have adequate time and funding to publish them. Look forward to reading two episodes in the next Eusta Diddoo book as both are rather short. They were after all designed to be less than seven minute episodes so that three of them could make one of today’s half-hour features. For that reason most of the books will contain two episodes. Some are purely comical and fun adventures while others deal with serious issues like hospitalization and broken homes. You can look forward to this pony trotting through a world of subjects, and there’s more to come if all goes well.
Melanie Rockett: Thanks for chatting with me Jonra! Eusta Diddo: Fired Up was a fun read! I read it to my young nephew and we had a riot creating our own cartoon sound-effects! We look forward to reading more episodes of this very adventurous pony, and to “discovering” your Science Fiction works.
Readers can keep track of what Jonra Springs is up to at his website JonraSprings.com, and on his Facebook Page.
Be sure to join Jonra’s mailing list in order to find out when new episodes of Eusta Diddo are available.