Article in Tempo Magazine - Abu Dhabi - December 2012
Husband, father, grandfather, pet- lover and traveller are just a few of the words that describe the colourful life of author Joseph Means. Born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1956, Joe had always been an avid reader and loved how each book took him on a new and exciting adventure. Now Joe lives with his wife and their four pets in Dubai and works as maintenance planning supervisor for Global Aerospace Logistics in Abu Dhabi. In his spare time Joe writes children’s books, which follow the adventures of his two main characters, a little girl called Millie and her cat Honey. Tempo caught up with Joe to talk about his creative pursuit.
Tell us about your family.
My wife and I moved to Dubai three years ago and of all the places we’ve been, we like it here the best. My wife and I have been blessed with seven children, 15 grandchildren, and two great-grand children. They are all scattered around England and the United States. Thanks to Facebook, we can keep in contact with them and their lives. We hope to retire in the next few years, but will continue working on the Millie and Honey series.
How did you start writing and when do you find time?
For the past 30 odd years I have worked in the aviation industry, a reason we’ve always been on the move. The sights, sounds, smells and flavours of every town, city, and country are different and I have always tried to express my feelings and thoughts in the best way possible to those I wrote to, in cards and letters. I wanted them to get the feel of every place that I visited.
What was your inspiration?
Everything is inspiration. If you look at the world as the incredible place it is, then each moment is a feast. I was sitting at a stop light one day with my youngest daughter and we noticed a leaf being blown across the intersection. So I began a dialogue, as if I was the leaf, dodging the cars and asking the wind to move me out of the way of oncoming traffic. It lasted the whole time of the red light and the leaf had just made it safely across the street as the light changed. But for those few short magical moments, I was the leaf manoeuvring my way through traffic to cross the street. The fear, the anguish, the hope and the relief of braving the great unknown were exhilarating.
Why did you choose this particular genre?
There is nothing like the smile on a young person’s face and the light in their eyes when they are thoroughly entertained. Everything is new to them and is like an adventure. I have always loved teaching and I really enjoy telling stories.
How did the characters Millie and Honey come about?
My lovely wife, Rose and I live in Dubai, with our three dogs Honey, Rags, and Archie, and our cat, Thomas. Before we moved here, we lived in the United States with our puppy, Honey and our kitten, Thomas. I would talk to them and pretend they answered me. I used different voices and made up stories. It would be so funny and my wife and I would laugh for hours together. Since I usually carry on a running dialog, the stories are played out and built until they are written down later.
What are your future plans and where do you see Millie and Honey in five years?
Millie and Honey will have their own full feature animated film and a daily cartoon, where they have adventures on different planets and learn many new things. I also see a wonderful game for younger children, where they interact in a learning capacity to make it through each level.
Any words of wisdom for your readers and other aspiring writers?
WRITE! Write about anything and everything. Learn your basic language skills and go from there. Let your voice speak out through the words that you put on paper. That is what makes us each individuals.
By Sanah Chauhan