ABOUT JOHN CLAUDE BEMIS
North Carolina’s Piedmont Laureate for Children’s Literature 2013
Winner of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Education
Member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and WINC (Writer’s and Illustrators of North Carolina)
The Short Bio…
An inspiring speaker and entertaining performer, John Claude Bemis is the author of The Wooden Prince, Lord of Monsters, the Clockwork Dark trilogy, The Prince Who Fell from the Sky, and Flora and the Runaway Rooster. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award from UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Education for his work in the schools as an author-educator and served as North Carolina’s Piedmont Laureate. John lives with his wife and daughter in Hillsborough, NC.
The Long Bio…
I grew up in a swampy corner of North Carolina called Pamlico County. Yes, I’ve been bitten by a water moccasin, but fortunately not by an alligator. When you live in a county with just one stoplight, you learn how to entertain yourself. As a kid, I read tons of books, played in abandoned tobacco barns, swam in the river when the jellyfish weren’t too thick, and learned violin and guitar.
At UNC-Chapel Hill, I studied Art History and Elementary Education. I was a teacher for 13 years, mostly 4th and 5th grades as well as being a Gifted Education resource teacher. In the classroom, I was lucky enough to teach the books I loved so much as a kid and discovered tons of incredible new children’s literature along the way.
My passion for reading grew into a passion for writing, especially creating fantastical stories that I imagined my students would love. I’m drawn to myths, legends, fairy tales, and all sorts of traditional stories of magic and adventure. My first series, the Clockwork Dark Trilogy, was inspired by my desire to write epic fantasy based on American folklore and history. For The Prince Who Fell from the Sky, I drew on everything from Native American creation myths, post-apocalyptic end-of-the-world science fiction, and Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. In my newest series, Out of Abaton, I took medieval legends like the magical and secretive king Prester John and the alchemists’ search for eternal life to put a new spin on the story of Pinocchio. I have fun playing with old stories by putting my own unusual twist to create adventures that will hopefully keep readers of all ages on the edge of their seats.
I love to travel and get lots of ideas wherever I go. I’ve been to samurai palaces in Japan, hiked among wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda, stood atop glacier waterfalls in the midnight sun of Iceland, and been knee-deep in the mud of a Costa Rican rainforest. The idea for re-imagining the Pinocchio story for my novel The Wooden Prince came after many visits to my favorite place in the world: Italy. I dream of one day living there.
For now, I live in lovely Hillsborough, North Carolina, a small town with a ton of famous writers. My family includes my wife, my daughter (future famous writer/artist), and our slightly insane cat. When I’m not writing or visiting schools, I spend time wandering in the woods, daydreaming, drooling over the sweets in our town’s chocolate shop, and playing music in my band Hooverville.
John age 12 playing violin Grownup John playing accordion John in his office, writing
Hanging out with wild gorillas Meeting young fans in Rwanda in Africa In Venice, researching The Wooden Prince
Fans dressed as characters from The Wooden Prince. John loves signing books for readers. But he especially loves visiting schools!