Jake Stevens was born in East London in 1972 and after passing the 11+ was educated at Ilford County High Grammar School for boys. He left school at 17 to pursue a career in the city as an FX broker, but after the introduction of the Euro, decided to leave to start his own publishing company. The company was sold in 2002 to Highbury House Communications PLC. Shortly after, Jake moved to Cambridge to embark on another publishing venture, and after teaming up with an ex MD of HHC PLC, he built and sold the business again to Archant LTD - one of the UK's largest publishing houses. While under a 5-year restrictive covenant he had the idea for Larry the London Bus and Friends, a children’s book series, which is where he’s at today. Visit www.larrythelondonbus.com for more information.
Do you donate all of the proceeds of “Larry” books to charities?
Yes - 100% of all proceeds from the paperbacks will be donated to global charities. The first being UNICEF, the second being Save the Children/WWF and so on and so forth.
Is there a story behind what spurred you to start the “Larry” series and donate the proceeds?
The inspiration for Larry came whilst out shopping for Christmas presents for my two young nephews. I originally anticipated the books appealing mainly to Londoner's and was going to donate to UK charities only. However, when someone prompted me about the possibility of global sales due to the effect of tourism and the iconic London bus, I then decided to donate to global charities. I've been very fortunate to lead a relatively privileged life and would now like to help others less fortunate than myself.
Do you have a particular amount of “Larry” books in mind for the series?
I have written seven books so far all of which will be in print by December 2016. And there are currently another seven in the pipeline for 2017 onwards. I would like to publish at least 24 in total, which would help somewhat in creating a mini TV series too.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I wrote the first seven books at the Seaport Village Inn on Catalina Island, California. A friend of mine is the general manager there and I absolutely love the whole place. The atmosphere and people are so friendly. Ideally I would love to go back to write the next seven books.
How do you get your creativity flowing to make such wonderful children’s books?
People close to me call me an entrepreneur, although I find that word slightly too complimentary. I always seem to come up with relatively new and creative ideas. The first magazine I published in 1998 was an A4 glossy property title and was the first of it's kind in the UK. With Larry...I simply looked at the market and saw that there wasn't a children's bus character. And the red London bus is so iconic...it seemed to be a no-brainer. The stories are based on real London bus routes, so there was actually no creativity behind them on my part. It was my role to simply turn them into fun stories for children of 3 years upwards.
Do you have any upcoming events?
No, none at the moment. Unfortunately, as we are still in the early stages of publsihing the books. But eventually I'd like to hold events outside London attractions, along with a whole array of other goodies, once the brand is established.