Jon Blake, Cardiff author: A Potted History

1976 Jon writes first novel. It isn’t published. Several more follow, also unpublished.

1979 Jon qualifies as teacher and begins teaching English and Drama at Bretton Woods Community School, Peterborough, an experience which will later feed into his first published novel.

1981 Jon becomes English teacher at Chilwell Comprehensive, Nottingham.

1982 Jon becomes lecturer in Communications at Broxtowe College of Further Education.

1984 Jon’s story “King” published by Bodley Head. Jon signs contract for two novels. Becomes warden at the International Community Centre, Nottingham.

1985 Two editors mysteriously fall pregnant while working on Jon’s YA novel “Yatesy’s Rap”. BH unable to fulfil contract but secure Jon the services of reputedly best children’s fiction agent in UK, Gina Pollinger.

1986 Kestrel publish “Yatesy’s Rap”. Jon becomes protegé of legendary editor Wendy Boase of Walker Books.
“Direct Action”, first of numerous TV scripts, produced by TVS for ITV. Jon inspires pensioners from community centre lunch club to create and perform their own play, ‘Net’ at the Workers Educational Association.

1987 Jon moves to Cardiff; becomes community education worker in Whitchurch, leading local history projects.

1988 Puffin launch new YA imprint Puffin Plus with “Yatesy’s Rap”. Excerpts of novel featured on ITV’s “Under the Bedclothes” where it is slagged off by Tory boy band Big Fun for containing too much swearing.
Walker Books publish coming-of-age novel “Geoffrey’s First” which receives fulsome praise in Sunday Times and TES. Fan mail arrives from Tasmania: “You have written a truly great novel”

1989 Jon’s first novel for juniors published by Blackie. Collins and Hutchinson also sign contracts with Jon.

1989-91 Another YA novel; three picture books; two story collections; five junior novels, including “The King of Rock and Roll”, of which Nina Bawden writes “10 or 11 year olds will love it. I certainly did”.

1990 Jon appointed writer in residence at Wrexham Arts Centre. Moves to Adamsdown, Cardiff, where he is to live for the next 19 years as unofficial lending library and initiator of many community arts projects.

1991 Jon works extensively with pupils in Butetown area of Cardiff – the original Tiger Bay – creating original stories on video.

1992 Jon paired by Walker Books with unknown illustrator Axel Scheffler. “You’re a Hero Daley B” goes on to sell over 200,000 copies worldwide.
Jon tours Gwent libraries.

1992-94 Two more junior novels; two graphic novels; fifth picture book; third story collection. Jon now published by Simon & Schuster and Ginn.

1994 Jon appointed lecturer in creative writing at the University of Glamorgan.

1995 Ginn publish “Mark Two”, also in large book format, and the junior novel becomes a big hit in schools. Jon tours extensively to schools and leads INSET classes in creative writing.

1996 Early reader book “Little Stupendo” short-listed for the Children’s Book Award.
“Life”, written for BBC’s “English Express”, short-listed for Writers Guild Best Children’s TV Script award.
Jon diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Judge for Western Mail’s children’s storywriting competition.

1996-2001 Six more junior novels, four playscripts, four historical stories for use with history national curriculum and a children’s fictional adaptation of “Macbeth”. Now published by OUP and Heinemann.

2000-2002 Creative writing tutor on the Penrhys estate, Rhondda valley.

2001 OUP publish junior comic novel “One Girl School” which will go on to sell over 30,000 copies.
Jon’s radio sitcom “Degrees R Us” the hit of the night at BBC Radio Nations Comedy Cup in Glasgow and he wins BBC Talent award. Four episodes produced on Radio Wales.

2002 Walker publish “True Beautiful Game”, probably the best example of the many HILO (high interest, low ability) books Jon has written.
“Todd and Blod”, animation series teaching the basics of creative writing, produced for BBC Bitesize.

2003 “The Deadly Secret of Dorothy W” published: first of many junior novels to be published by Hodder.
Sgript Cymru option Jon’s adult play “Blow City Rollers”: rehearsed reading at Chapter Arts Centre. Jon works as playwright-tutor on Sgript Cymru’s “Livewire” project, culminating in production in Merthyr College of work written by adults with learning disabilities, a highlight of Jon’s lifetime devotion to community arts.

2005 “Stinky Finger’s House of Fun” published. Goes on to sell nearly 20,000 copies in the UK alone and spawn a hit series of six titles.

2007 Jon becomes father for the first time at 52. Appointed visiting lecturer in creative writing at the University of Newport.

2008 “The Last Free Cat” is published by Hodder and soon attracts glowing reviews as an important contribution to YA literature.

2009 Jon decides to record the process of researching, writing and publishing an adult novel about the 1969 Isle of Wight festival on a website, http://www.dylan69.com. By 2012 blog will have had over 10,000 hits.
“Adamsdown Song”, the culmination of a songwriting project involving Adamsdown primary schools, reaches number 1 on Soundclick, a leading internet chart.

2010 Jon becomes father for second time. “Mutiny on the School Ship Bounty” published: first collaboration with a Welsh publisher. Short-listed for Tir Na N-Og award.
Numerous short stories for OUP and Heinemann anthologies.

2011 Jon gets first Waterstones window as Newport IOW store features “69ers” during festival season.
Jon collaborates with friend and neighbour Mark Roberts (ex Catatonia) on “This is the Sound of Adamsdown”, an album of songs featuring residents of the Cardiff inner city area.
Theater Mumpitz in Nurnberg perform “He Duda”, capitalising on the popularity of “You’re a Hero, Daley B” in Germany.
Walker publish “Oshie”, whose hero, like Jon’s own son, has cerebral palsy.

2012 Chicago publisher Albert Whitman publish “The Last Free Cat”. Whitman’s new YA imprint, a “select list of smart, fearless books” which “provide answers for teens”, is limited to four books per year. “The Last Free Cat” is also published by Hodder as an e-book and continues to collect glowing reviews, many featured on its website. A Japanese edition of the book is soon to be followed by a Korean translation.

2013 Jon is international guest at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. The Last Free Cat is chosen for the International Reading Association Young Adults Choices list: the top 30 YA titles published in the US (nb 4-8000 YA titles are published each year in the US).

2016 Publication of “Thimble Monkey Superstar”, whose young disabled narrator is also based on Jordi Blake.


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