Writers' Minds - Jon Mayhew

Image Credit - Whizzy Barr
Ever wondered what makes a writer tick? What cogs of creativity whirr to bring stories to life? We take a peek into the minds behind the craft and probe for creative rituals, routines and inspiration hunting. 


This month, award winning children’s author, Jon Mayhew, shares his inner workings. Be sure to catch Jon in person at the Manchester Children’s Book Fair SCBWI Pulse Panel Event on 26th June, click here for details and to book. But for, now, shut the curtains, crack open that pack of cookies you were keeping for best and read on for a quick fire round of writerly secrets… 

Inspiration - are you a hunter or gatherer? 

Hunter. I’m always on the lookout for ideas but in truth, they often find me. 

Are you a plotter or pantser? 

Plotter. I can’t write more than three chapters without knowing where it’s all heading. Of course, the plan is pretty elastic and changes as I go along! 

Shed sitter or cafe dreamer? 

Home scribbler. I’d love to have a shed. I do have a room in which to write but I often find myself huddled by the woodburner! 

Any mottos or words of wisdom hung above your desk? 

No, I move around the house quite a bit. In my room, I have the first letter I got from my editor, telling me how great Mortlock is. That spurs me on. 

Target word count per day or as it comes? 

1,000 and everything else is a bonus.

Pen or Keyboard? 

Keyboard. I wrote Mortlock longhand and hated typing it up. 

Music or silence? 

Music THEN silence. I like film themes and orchestral music but whatever the music, I make sure it sets the mood for my writing. I can’t write while a song is being sung, especially if the lyrics are good, I have to stop and listen! 

Chocolate or wine? 


Perspiration or inspiration? 

Perspiration after inspiration. 

To get into the Zone, do you use any techniques or triggers? Anything truly weird and eccentric? 

I light a fire in the winter and wear the baggiest, holiest old jumper going. I do look a mess when I’m writing. 

Do you ever hear your character’s voice in your head? 

Sometimes. Characters will say things when I’m running and then I have to hold that snappy dialogue in my head all the way round my circuit. 

If there one key piece of advice, one gem of wisdom about the craft of writing, be it character development, re-writing or plot vs story, what would that be? 

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Write YOUR story. And don’t take advice from other writers! 

Jon Mayhew

Jon Mayhew is the author of the multi-award winning Mortlock, The Demon Collector and The Bonehill Curse. Jon hails from the misty marshes of Wirral, described as a haunt of ‘godless people’ even in the days of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight! He spent most of his childhood playing in the ruins of a Victorian zoo and when he wasn’t doing that, he was writing or telling stories. He loves traditional music and running too… which you realise is a useful combination once you hear him play the mandolin. Jon’s new series for Bloomsbury, Monster Odyssey is out now. www.jonmayhew.co.uk

Louise Cliffe-Minns is the Events Editor and joint Features Editor for Words & Pictures. 

Contact: events@britishscbwi.org 


Blog: Louminns.blogspot.com
Follow: @LMMinns


  1. Brilliant idea for a post, Louise and excellent questions LOVEthis!
    Also love Jon's answers!
    Thank you!

    1. Whoops that was meant to be from me, Jan ( too many accounts!)

  2. Wow, I love this! Fantastic logo, and questions. Thank you Lou :-) And Jon, for your answers. It's always always helpful to know how other writers write.

  3. Great fun - with a bit of Important Stuff hidden in there.
    Thanks both of you!

  4. Great feature that made me smile whilst I was eating my cheese butty. Thanks also for plugging the MCBF panel, Lou

    1. You've got me hankering after a cheese butty now Marie!

  5. Jon, thank you! I love your answers - fun and insightful at the same time.

  6. It has almost better grounds between the students to think around all those values which must have been followed. writing report


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