Jay Singh inspired and delighted an entire generation with his classic tale The Butterfly (2001), a story about a caterpillar who leaves a superficial existence to pursue her dream of becoming a real butterfly. Two sequels, Solomon’s Song (2002) and Once Upon a Time in a Forest Far Away (2004), soon followed and were met with equal success and popularity among young readers who could relate to the trilogy’s gripping stories and strong environmental themes. Jay Singh is known for turning ordinary plots into stylistic memorable innovations that amuse children and parents the world over. Instead of just another cliché story about a hero saving the environment, each book explores the interconnectivity of the hero’s journey and how that journey must eventually open up to embrace and benefit the collective whole. The beauty and brilliance of the trilogy is that each book stands on its own and illustrates not only the importance of pursuing your dream but helping others realize their dreams as well. In The Butterfly Singh introduced the industrial caterpillars who, having isolated themselves from the rest of the forest in a Silk Palace, forget how to become real butterflies. We discover the brave little caterpillar who leaves the comfort and safety of the Silk Palace only to discover how destructive and abusive the caterpillars are in the forest. In Solomon’s Song we meet the dove who leaves the comfort and security of home to learn how to sing with the song birds. Doing so, he meets the brave little caterpillar who helps him realize his dreams. In the chilling opening scene of Once Upon a Time in a Forest Far Away birds begin to drop dead from the sky and all the heroes must force the technologically superior caterpillars to change their wasteful and abuse ways before the entire forest is lost. Wild, wonderful and unforgettable. When I’m asked to name the most significant and entertaining books about the environment—Jay Singh’s great trilogy always comes foremost to mind. Since The Butterfly’s initial release, Jay Singh has released several books including Myth and Mayhem and The Little Samba Boy. Presently he has begun a new series titled O.G. Lafunk Poor Little Church Mouse. The first book in the series is aptly called ‘Let the Story Begin’. An on-line game bearing the same name is due to be released in the coming months. In it children and teens will be able to explore issues pertinent to them. The game will also feature a unique comic book making system. By playing the game and making unique choices, a camera takes a picture of the player’s character and then places it in a pdf comic format to be downloaded at the publisher’s website. These comic books children can share with their parents!
What made you want to become a storyteller?
Stories and storytellers and the magic they wield. I just love the endless possibility of stories and words and the effect they can have on another person’s life. I traveled quite a bit around Asia in my twenties. I spent a quite of time in Punjab, in my grandfather’s village. There you’ve still got your traditional storytellers who tell stories for hours on end without break or pause. Their memories are incredible. You could not believe how they can just go on for hours telling a story that’s more descriptive than a Proust novel. Thinking about it, it kind of reminds me of Alex Haley’s novel Roots when he describes how he visited his ancestral village where the storyteller could recount his family’s history for days without missing a beat. I didn’t believe it when I first read it. But when I experienced it, I knew that was what I wanted to do. Tell stories. Still can’t though. I can write them, but tell them like storyteller of old, well that I still can’t do.
Was the journey difficult?
Journey isn’t over, and it remains more difficult than ever. I think the big lesson for me was that there is no end to this journey. This is what I love doing. I’m at the center of my wheel. Success, failure, rain or shine, I’m exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I love. Though what I think has happened in writing The Butterfly trilogy is that I recognize and realize that the journey doesn’t just end with a book or books, but it broadens and blossoms to encompass bigger and more meaningful pursuits. Where once it was about ego, it slowly became about others and community, and when that happens you realize the real journey has just begun.
What are you working on now?
O.G. Lafunk Poor Little Church Mouse. It’s this story about this mouse that lives in an old abandoned Church in Alphabet City, New York. She was given special powers by an angel a long time ago to help the poor and oppressed. These powers afford her the strength to help New Yorkers in need so she’s constantly taking on drug dealers, bullies, and abusive landlords. A character dealing with harsh realities that children and teens go through every day.
Who or what inspired O.G.?
You know many things. Many people think Mighty Mouse or Mickey Mouse. But not at all. If you see the character, she’s a lot more real and relatable. If anything inspired O.G. I’d say the older cartoons. Cartoons from the seventies and eighties. Stories that dealt with meaningful topics relevant to teachers, parents and kids. Truth is I’m a big fan of Bill Cosby. I have a profound respect for his Fat Albert series. Fat Albert was a serious cartoon dealing with real life issues that I felt not only touched a lot of kids but helped them out as well. I guess I wanted to write something cute and entertaining but meaningful as well. Something that parents and teachers could talk about with their children. A story that inspires and stimulates meaningful discussion. I don’t know. Maybe I’m a little concerned about the lack of substance in cartoons these days. Or maybe I’m just getting old. Who knows? Either way I’ve embarked on little Ms. Olivia Garcia Lafunk’s story and we’ll see where it takes me and the O.G production team. Right now I’m working on a feature film script and discussing the possibility of realizing the script in Dubai. They’ve got a booming animation industry and incredible talent. We’re also talking to a major game studio in Montreal, Canada about creating an O.G game. That could be cool too.
If you could be one character in a story who would you be and why?
Well, I certainly know who I wouldn’t want to be. I wouldn’t want to be that guy who wakes up as a cockroach. One character…I think I would have to go with is Luke Skywalker. I always told my parents that when I grew up I wanted to be a Jedi. I never actually realized until I was in my teens that Jedi wasn’t a valid profession. That’s pretty much when I made the shift to writer.
What do you like in a good story?
A masterful ending.
Finally, what advice would you give aspiring authors?
Do your best and let the forest take care of the rest.
Where can we find out more about your work?
Pavaar@gmail.com Or Tap into these links:
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