‘FunJungle’ Author Says Nature-Filled Hill Country Upbringing Inspired Focus Of His Book Series

“The idea that I get to do this for a living is really wonderful!” says children’s book author Stuart Gibbs.

By Joy DíazAugust 5, 2021 10:35 am, ,

Author Stuart Gibbs grew up in the Texas Hill Country. He says his family lived on what felt like “the edge of civilization.”

“There were woods right out across the street,” Gibbs told Fausto Díaz, son of Texas Standard producer/reporter Joy Díaz, who spoke with Gibbs during a virtual interview. “We spent a lot of time walking around in the woods in the Texas Hill Country catching lizards and snakes and turtles.”

And that formative time in nature helped shaped his work as a writer.

Gibbs writes novels for young readers. He’s penned 24 books so far, including for four different series for the publisher Simon & Schuster. One of those is “FunJungle,” a mystery series that takes place in a zoo and is centered around Teddy, a kid hero of sorts. But it’s not a normal zoo; it’s a theme park zoo, and the crimes and mysteries Teddy solves are crimes against the animals. Gibbs decided to focus on that difficult subject after someone from the World Wildlife Fund’s Animal Crimes Division informed him about the problem.

“Sadly, there’s no real shortage of crimes that people commit against animals,” Gibbs said. “So I’m working on taking a lot of those [concerns] and figuring out how to tell stories that involve those that Teddy can get involved with.”

Fausto Díaz, son of Texas Standard producer/reporter Joy Díaz, interviews author Stuart Gibbs.

Gibbs says writing has been a passion of his since childhood, and now he gets to make a living doing what he loves.

“It was like my hobby. I loved doing it! I was doing it all the time anyhow! So the idea that I get to do this for a living is really wonderful!” he said.

But he says he couldn’t have transformed his passion into a career without the support of mentors along the way, including his English teacher at Churchill High School in San Antonio, Miss Peacock.

“Miss Peacock was a tremendous supporter of mine and allowed me to do all kinds of more creative writing,” Gibbs said “She was just a great supporter who made me think that I could be a professional writer someday.”

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