Scoltock, Jack 1942-(A. Zebra)

views updated

SCOLTOCK, Jack 1942-(A. Zebra)

PERSONAL: Born August 19, 1942, in Derry, Northern Ireland; son of James Frederick (an engineer) and Kathleen (a homemaker; maiden name, McGuinness) Scoltock; married Ursula Bridge Bradley (a hairdresser), December 2, 1967; children: Jason, Justine. Religion: "Lapsed Catholic." Hobbies and other interests: Scuba diving.

ADDRESSES: Home—27 Caw Park, Waterside, Derry, Northern Ireland BT471LZ. Offıce—Marine Sports, 119 Spencer Rd., Derry, Northern Ireland BT471AE.

CAREER: Novelist. Worked as a bricklayer in Derry, Northern Ireland and England, 1959-67; Molins Engineering, Maydown, Campsie, Derry, engineering inspector, 1971-85; Marine Sports (a scuba-diving equipment business), Derry, Northern Ireland, owner, 1985—.

AWARDS, HONORS: Best Fiction Award for short story, Downtown Radio (Newtownards, Northern Ireland), 1990, for "County Champion Three Times."


for children

Quest of the Royal Twins, illustrated by Jeannette Dunne, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1988.

(Under pseudonym A. Zebra) A Rumble in the Jungle, illustrated by Cathy Dineen, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1989.

Badger, Beano, and the Magic Mushroom, illustrated by Jeannette Dunne, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1990.

Jeremy's Adventure, illustrated by Aileen Caffrey, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1991.

Justine's Secret Challenge, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1992.

Seek the Enchanted Antlers, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1992.

Fairy Girl, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1992.

The Magic Harp, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1994.

The Magic Sword illustrated by Aileen Caffrey, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1995.

The Sand Clocker: Spanish Armada Stowaway, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1996.

Midnight Mission, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1997.

A Sense of Survival, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1997.

Also author of The Magic of Fungie, Wolfhound Press (Dublin, Ireland), and of the e-book Commaric, a young adult fantasy-horror novel available at Author of play Hope in theDerry Workhouse, and other plays written for special-needs performers. Contributor of short stories to the anthologies, including Devenish Island, Western Library Board, 1986, and Borderlines, Holiday Projects West, 1988; contributor to periodicals, including Tater, Fingerpost, Treasure Hunting, Writer's Companion, Derry Journal, Belfast Telegraph, Northern Woman, and Sentinel.

ADAPTATIONS: The short story "County Champion Three Times" was performed by local actors on Downtown Radio in Derry, Northern Ireland, 1990.

WORK IN PROGRESS: At work on the sixth "Badger, Beano" book.

SIDELIGHTS: Jack Scoltock once told CA: "I was born in Derry and grew up in the 'Waterside' part of the city. I had a happy childhood, though when I was very young, my father and mother divorced. I was always an avid reader of comic books, which I still collect and read, though I can't get American or Canadian comics now (too expensive). I firmly believe that reading comics was what developed my imagination. Being the eldest of a family of three I used to pretend I could see things in the light bulb, and I would make up stories for my brother and sister in our bedroom at night. They still remember this. The local cinema, 'The Midland,' was also a great developer of my imagination. Like many other children in Waterside I spend many happy hours there.

"I joined the Brooke Park Library when I was old enough and my favourite novels were Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and, particularly, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. These were books I read often. A Connecticut Yankee, a story in which the hero is transported to another time, really caught my imagination and some of my children's novels have this theme of being transported to other worlds and times. My favourite modern writer is Terry Brooks.

"I started scribbling when I had an accident to my ankle, which ended my bricklaying career. In 1971 I was one of the thirteen Derry divers who found the Spanish Armada wreck of the Trinidad Valencera off the coast of Donegal, Ireland, twenty-five miles away. As an active diver with the Derry Sub-Aqua Club, my imagination developed even further.

"In Derry most of us were poor, but we were happy. The traumatic experience of the troubles changed all that. Over twenty years ago when the bombing and killing of both Protestant and Catholic sections of the community where I live began, I started to write as a way of relaxation. My writing really began to develop then. Two of my short stories about this situation followed, one an allegory called "A Rumble in the Jungle," about the animals in the jungle seeking their animal rights (civil rights) and one animal, one say (one man, one vote). My publisher advised me to use the pseudonym A. Zebra because of the touchy subject matter. It was published as a book in 1989. Though life here in Derry is much more peaceful, I am still writing and hope to be able to write for a long time to come.

"In 1988 my first novel, Quest of the Royal Twins, was published and I have had a novel published every year since. I do produce quite an amount of writing during the winter. My shop does more trade in the summer, so I am lucky enough to have more time for my writing in the slacker winter months.

"My novel Jeremy's Adventure is about animal experimentation, which I abhor. I believe that the young should be educated about this so they can be aware that the makeup and shampoo their parents are using are animal experimentation-free. Children don't like to be preached to, but through writing they can be educated in an enjoyable way about animal experimentation.

"My hobby is writing, and this plus the feedback I receive from children give me a lot of enjoyment. I have never been particularly concerned about criticism from adults. It is the children's opinions I value most."