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Know Your - Jack Byard

Successful author of the “Know Your” series Jack Byard discusses writing, animals and where he found the inspiration to write his popular educational books.

Could you tell me a bit about your days before becoming an author? I have had an interest in all things mechanical from a very early age, wanting to know how things are made, how they work and why. I left school at fifteen and became an apprentice Rolls Royce mechanic, a technician in current parlance, for a princely sum of £1.50 a week. Servicing and repairing the Rolls Royce cars for the Bradford wool men and the pop stars that came to the local theatres. A leg injury and a motor bike accident made it impossible to continue in this job. I eventually finished up in the Jewellery trade and became knowledgeable about gemstones and antique silver. I then went back to my first love machinery. The last 5 years of my working life was in a girl’s school as a technician passing on my skills, we built everything from nail varnish dryers to racing cars powered by lawn mower engines or car batteries. It was fabulous.

What lead you into a career in writing? The realisation how little children knew about the animals around them. Well educated children thinking there were only two breeds of sheep - black ones and white ones. I grew up seeing sheep and cattle quite regularly and I found it difficult to understand.

How do you pick which animal you will be writing about next, there’s so many to choose from? I only write about animals. Know Your Sheep was my first book, all the other animals have been chosen by the readers or people who have helped with previous books

Do you have any thoughts on your writing career? I would like to become better and hopefully sell more books.

What can we find an author like yourself doing in your spare time? I still love tinkering; I make clocks out of the discarded pieces of computers and other abandoned pieces. I also love wood turning and making my own tools.

How would you describe yourself? My teenage granddaughter thinks I am weird. I love language and I am struggling to learn Italian, again. I am never happy to be told that’s how it is without all the whys and wherefores. A bit of a pain in the aspect. xl_know-your-dogs-smc

Can you give any hints of the type of books we may expect to see written by you in future? I would love to write a crime novel about the goings on in the jewellery trade.

Could you briefly describe your latest book? I am writing two or is it three books at the moment; I am merging the two sheep books into a compendium with additional material. In addition I am writing a book about the numerous and beautiful butterflies of the British Isles and Europe.

What scares you the most as a writer? Not being enthusiastic about the animal I have been asked to write about or I am unable to find interesting facts that I can cram into my 200 words.


Do you have a favourite sentence or passage from another writer? When I first sat at a bench in a jewellery workshop I was nervous about making a mistake or breaking something, Swain, a curmudgeonly old devil, surprised me by quoting “What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." (Goethe) Swain engraved it on a brass plate for me and placed it at the back of my bench. I unfortunately ‘lost’ it some years ago.

Coming soon to the "Know Your" series is "Know Your Owls - Out in June 2016

More from the "Know Your Series" Know Your Sheep Know Your Cattle Know Your Horses Know Your Pigs

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