Brian Jay Jones

Goodreads Author


Born
Kansas City, KS, The United States
Website

Twitter

Genre

Influences
Robert Caro, Alan Moore, David Halberstam, Harvey Kurtzman, David McCu ...more

Member Since
July 2008

URL


Brian Jay Jones is a New York Times bestselling biographer and a former president of Biographers International Organization, the world’s largest organization of practicing biographers. A former policy analyst and adviser in the U.S. Senate, Jones took up biography in 2008, with the publication of his award-winning Washington Irving. His second book, Jim Henson: The Biography was a national bestseller, and won the 2013 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Biography. His biography of filmmaker George Lucas was released in December 2016, and was immediately named one of Kirkus' Best Books of 2016.

He is presently at work on a biography of Dr. Seuss for Dutton Books.

A note from Brian: "I've taken a somewhat different tact with this site, starting wi
...more

To ask Brian Jay Jones questions, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Brian Jay Jones It can vary. Sometimes, your topic finds YOU. I sort of "backed into" Washington Irving -- I was reading about the origins of Christmas traditions,…moreIt can vary. Sometimes, your topic finds YOU. I sort of "backed into" Washington Irving -- I was reading about the origins of Christmas traditions, where I learned that Irving had pretty much made most of them up, but swore with a straight face that they were all real. That was news to me, so I read all of Irving's Christmas stories -- and then everything else he had written -- and was amazed by his voice and attitude. I loved his stuff so much that I wanted to know more about him . . . and discovered there hadn't been a biography of him in more than eight decades. So, he became my subject.

With Jim Henson, that was another one that was sort of a happy accident. I had somehow ended up on his wikipedia page and went down to the very bottom of the article to see what books were being cited in the article. What I found was that while there were plenty of books about his work, there was no real biography. That was surprising to me -- I'm a Sesame Street/Muppet Show/Jim Henson kid, and couldn't believe there wasn't a biography even twenty years after his death. That was the start of a two year conversation with the Henson family about writing Jim's story, with access to their private archives.

Finally, with George Lucas, there was a moment when I was working on the Jim Henson biography and got to the section on Labyrinth -- a project Lucas produced for Henson. There was a photo I used in the book of the two of them together, and I thought -- for just a moment -- "Wow, Lucas would be a GREAT project to do next!" then got back to the book at hand. But the moment the Jim Henson biography was published (in late 2013), I was already working a proposal for a George Lucas biography (which I was saving on my computer under a file called PROJECT NEW HOPE).(less)
Brian Jay Jones Writer's block for a biographer is probably a bit different than it is for those who write fiction. We have to work with what really happened,so we're…moreWriter's block for a biographer is probably a bit different than it is for those who write fiction. We have to work with what really happened,so we're not usually stuck for plot points, or trying to figure out what to do to get our main character into our out of a particular jam. There are places where you might think, "Man, it would be really cool if there was a gun battle here," or "Wouldn't it be great if George Washington turned out to be a vampire? -- but unless that really happened, we as biographers can't do it. That restriction alone, I know, makes some of my fiction writing friends INSANE. But writing biography or non-fiction means you always generally sort of know what happens next -- so the place where you can get stuck is: how do I get from A to B? How do you use your various sources to tell your story?

Me, I look at it sort of like putting together a puzzle. I'm a pretty strict outliner -- I outline each particular chapter on a giant whiteboard in my office, so I know all the points I need to hit in a particular chapter. I generally know, then, what the picture looks like, but some of the puzzle pieces are mixed around, turned over, or haven't had the border pieces sorted out yet. When I'm blocked, I tend to read back through all the quotes I have from my sources, all my tidbits and notes, and look for a progression or theme -- bundling together everything that looks like the sky or a wall, turning over pieces again and again to see what they look like, and finding border pieces to hold it all together. There's usually a pattern in there somewhere that'll help you fit the pieces together, no matter how weird looking they might be. What looked like it was a bit of tree might turn out to really be someone's eye. Eventually, things become clearer and start to fit together.(less)
Average rating: 4.0 · 11,139 ratings · 1,383 reviews · 7 distinct worksSimilar authors
Jim Henson: The Biography

3.99 avg rating — 9,755 ratings — published 2013 — 17 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
George Lucas: A Life

4.09 avg rating — 1,312 ratings — published 2016 — 27 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Washington Irving: An Ameri...

4.19 avg rating — 73 ratings — published 2007 — 5 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
George Lucas: Uma vida

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
GEORGE LUCAS

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
George Lucas, une vie

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor...

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings2 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
More books by Brian Jay Jones…

[image error]A number of you wonderful people who’ve placed advanced orders for Becoming Dr. Seuss through Amazon have contacted me recently to let me know you’ve received word that its publication date has been moved from February to May. And the question you’re generally asking me is: Whaaaat?


The quick answer: Yup, it’s true.  The publication date is now May 7, 2019. Concerned? Don’t be. Ever...

Read more of this blog post »
 •  0 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on June 29, 2018 08:15 • 9 views

Upcoming Events

No scheduled events. Add an event.

Brian’s Recent Updates

Brian rated a book it was amazing
Shirley Jackson by Ruth Franklin
Rate this book
Clear rating
Brian is now following
85526
Brian has read
George Lucas by Brian Jay Jones
George Lucas: A Life
by Brian Jay Jones (Goodreads Author)
Rate this book
Clear rating
Brian liked that Brian is now a friend of Brad
1313182 5800157
Brian rated a book it was ok
Sam Phillips by Peter Guralnick
Rate this book
Clear rating
Brian is finished with Sinatra
Sinatra by James Kaplan
Rate this book
Clear rating
Brian rated a book really liked it
Sinatra by James Kaplan
Rate this book
Clear rating
Brian wants to read
Revolver by Robert  Rodriguez
Rate this book
Clear rating
More of Brian's books…
“Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it.' - Jim”
Brian Jay Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography

“When I was young," wrote Jim, "my ambition was to be one of the people who makes a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave this world a little bit better for my being here."

And he did.”
Brian Jay Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography

“When Jim left the planet so suddenly, all of us who loved him, worked with him, were inspired by him, gathered in New York City. We were like dandelion seeds clinging to the stem and to each other. And on May 16th, [the day Jim died] the wind began to blow. There’s no stem any more. We’re all floating on the breeze. And it’s scary and exhilarating, and there’s nothing we can do about it. But gradually, we’ll all drift to the ground and plant ourselves. And no matter what we grow into, it’ll be influenced by Jim. We’re Jim’s seeds. And it’s not only those of us who knew him. Everyone who was touched by his work is a Jim-seed.”
Brian Jay Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography

Topics Mentioning This Author

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Stephen King

“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in traveling in a stage coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position and be bruised in a new place.”
Washington Irving, Tales of a Traveller

“No harm's done to history by making it something someone would want to read."

(The Course of Human Events, NEH Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities 2003)”
David McCullough

“My experience of life is that it is not divided up into genres; it’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky.”
Alan Moore




No comments have been added yet.