Sports have always been a major part of Jeff Stone's life. From Kindergarten through his senior year of high school, he played a wide variety, including baseball, soccer, football, basketball, track...even bowling. There was one that he had always wanted to participate in, however, but never had the opportunity. That was martial arts.
While attending Michigan State University, Jeff finally had a chance to do something about it. During his final semester, he enrolled in a Tae Kwon Do class and earned his yellow belt. Then he promptly graduated and moved away from his instructor. Jeff continued to play sports, but waited another 10+ years before starting martial arts again.
After meeting and marrying his Chinese wife—in Hong Kong—Jeff decided to take up kung fu (a Chinese martial art.) Four years later, he found himself in China with the grandmaster of Shaolin Do Kung Fu, testing for his black belt inside the legendary Shaolin Temple. With temperatures soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Jeff passed his test in front of more than a dozen black belts, several Shaolin monks, and bus loads of Chinese tourists. In addition to "animal" kung fu, Jeff studies other styles of martial arts to help increase the diversity his characters. He is a big fan of all martial arts.
Cycling began to play a larger role in Jeff's life after the finished writing DRAGON, the final book in the original Five Ancestors series. He'd always ridden bikes for fun, but he got more serious and began training with a group of Indiana riders. He discovered that many elite cyclist practice yoga as part of their cross-training. Riders who have strong "cores" win more races. Yoga is the foundation for certain elements of kung fu, and Jeff realized that if a kid practiced kung fu from the time he or she was 2-years-old until he or she was 14-years-old, that kid would rule on a bike. Hence, PHOENIX was born (as well as HuDie, the girl from PHOENIX). Learn more about some the cycling Jeff did while writing PHOENIX on Jeff's BIO page. Also, check out his "Cycling" Pinterest board for sick cycling pics.
Jeff Stone's attention to detail isn't limited to his action sequences. When writing the Five Ancestors, Book Three: SNAKE, he felt he needed to get closer to his main character—so he bought a baby Ball Python and named her Yokwan (Jade Bangle). He used to take her to school and library visits, until she grew to her full five-foot length. That's only average for a female Ball Python, but it's too big for most teachers!
MONTESSORI SCHOOL OF WESTFIELD, IN
Here's another example. The Five Ancestors, Book Five: EAGLE is about a character named Ying who was raised as an "eagle," but believes himself to be a powerful "dragon." Jeff's editor often teased Jeff about what he would do when he needed to "get closer" to a dragon. Turns out Jeff did a ton of research, then acquired one.
Below is a picture of Jeff's Mountain Horned Dragon, resting on Jeff's shoulder. The photo was taken the day he picked her up. She was severely dehydrated and in need of several weeks worth of meals. These dragons come from Asia and are fairly small, about a foot long from nose to tail tip.
MT. HORNED DRAGON
Interested in more animal pics? Take a look at Jeff's "Animal Kung Fu" Pinterest Board.
Jeff's most rewarding research came from his 15-year search for his birthmother. Like the main character's in his Five Ancestor's series, Jeff was an orphan. Read more about it on his BIO page.
PHOTO BY OWEN STONE (Age 10)
JEFF IN HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK
SHAOLIN TEMPLE • CHINA
AFTER THE TEST • SHAOLIN TEMPLE • CHINA