John Yost is a bit of an eccentric. He grew up in rural Wisconsin where he spent his summers exploring the woods and rivers near his home. He pored over the science, nature and outdoors section of the little local library learning all he could.
The day after he graduated high school he set off on a month long, 450 mile bicycle ride through the forests and State Parks in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
He majored in biology. Following in the footsteps of his Grandmother, John became a teacher. He taught high school science for 8 years. During that time, he lived in a tiny 12′ X 18′ log cabin he built by hand. The cabin was out in the woods about a mile from the nearest blacktop. He built it himself with nothing but hand tools and lived there for 12 years with no water or electricity.
He also boxed professionally and was on ESPN. Following a successful career as a fighter, he traveled the US giving keynote speeches on personal and professional success.
Tired of the rat race, John spent 3 years traveling the world on a shoe-string. He went to over 15 countries and his expenses averaged under $300/month.
He often stayed with locals as he traveled the countryside on a small scooter. He would just smile and start helping with whatever job he saw people doing. Despite no common language, he made lots of friends and was well received.
Somewhere in his travels he discovered paragliding, which is where you run off a cliff with an inflated parachute over your head. If things go right, you can soar to cloudbase. He loves flying and flew as much in one year as most people fly in 10.
He is an avid organic gardener and besides Christmas with his family, the thing he missed most about being overseas was having a garden. He also raises and sells red wiggler worms that make the best soil any plant could ask for.
Throughout his life John has been fascinated with nature and animals. As a kid he would do “survival stays” where he would go out in the woods with very little gear. By the time he was in college he was spending weeks at a time in the woods with nothing but a knife, a pan, and a blanket.
Out of over 10,000 applicants, John was one of 22 people who went to the final interviews for the very first CBS Survivor TV show.
Now John has “found his roots” and is writing a series of nature books for children. Expect to see 10 or 15 books in the series covering everything from dinosaurs to baby animals. He is also planning on writing a series on outdoor survival skills.
If there is anything you’d like to ask him about, you can contact him at johnnie.yost at gmail dot com.
What inspires you to write?
I love writing and I love knowing that somewhere out there, some kid is reading my books and getting all excited the way I used to when I would discover something new about an animal.
Throughout my life, there is nothing I’ve found that makes me happier than making a difference in someone’s life. I write in hopes that my books inspire someone to live their dreams. You wouldn’t think that’s possible when you write nature books, but I try to write so that people can draw parallels with the animals I write about.
It makes me so happy to get a note from a mother or father who tell me how much they’ve enjoyed one of my books or how it got them talking with their kids.
Since becoming an author, I’ve received some wonderful notes and calls. Parents tell me that they have meaningful conversations with their kids when they read my books to them. Some of those stories tear my heart out and I’m so happy I can be part of families growing closer.
Tell us about your writing process.
There is really nothing fancy about my writing process. I simply sit down and write. Some days the words flow like magic and other days it’s like pulling teeth. But every day I just sit my butt down in a chair and get to it.
I don’t think I’m a natural writer. Inspired, yes. But natural, no.
Even though writing doesn’t always come easy to me, two things save me. One is that I love what I write about. I love the natural world, the forests, the trees, the animals… all of it
The other is that I’m driven by this vision I have of a family reading my books together and growing closer as they discuss them. I see a little boy or girl decide that they’re going to be a veterinarian, a paleontologist or a dolphin trainer because of those conversations.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
What advice would you give other writers?
You know, there really isn’t a big secret here. It’s really just a matter of having the discipline to sit down and write.
We ALL have gifts that NEED to be shared with the world. Both for what we give to the world and what we get from giving. It provides passion and purpose in our lives… and that is what makes life so amazing.
So, my suggestion is to think about what you love, and write about that. You don’t need to write a bestseller right off the bat. What you need to do is write your book. That’s all. Once you have that part done, you will find that things kinda fall in place…
You’ll find proofreaders, people who believe in you and your book, ways to reach the people who want and need what you write. You’ll find it’s amazing how things just work out.
But… you’ve gotta have the discipline to sit down and write. It will be a chore some days, but you just have to do it…
And the amazing thing is that before you know it, you’ll have a book!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
You know, you just have to pull the trigger. Publishing my first book was scary. Fear held me back for years, it seemed I always had an excuse to procrastinate writing that book just a little longer.
But, I was forced to write my first book when I started on the professional speaking circuit. That was the only way you could make a living when you were a nobody in the industry.
Things have changed A LOT since then and I love the fact that I can just use Kindle and CreateSpace to take care of all the publishing for me now.
And I can still get my books self-published, just a whole lot cheaper these days!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I really don’t know. I don’t know enough about the industry. Thinking about where the book industry is going doesn’t do me much good. I can’t control it, I just know that I’ll follow it where it goes. For now that means digital and print versions.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
Science and Nature books for children. Outdoors.
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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