Meet Jan Adkins-The Explainer General
Jan Adkins-The Explainer General
JAN LEE ADKINS (he never uses the middle name, seldom uses the first) spent his childhood in Wheeling, West Virginia, and nearby, in St. Clairsville, Ohio. His father was a sheet-metal contractor who told him wonderful stories about how things – glass, steel, concrete, gasoline – were made. He loved walking and hunting in the hilly woods.
He attended Ohio State University, then moved to what he thinks of as his homeplace, Wareham, Massachusetts, where he was awed by the Great World Ocean. Many of his books and articles are about the sea and the little boats that set out upon it.
To date he has published about 45 books, most of them non-fiction for young people, his “special audience.”
He became associate art director of the National Geographic Magazine, where he researched science, technology, history, archaeology, medicine and astrophysics in order to explain the concepts of the magazine’s features. His editor-in-chief described his job as “getting a doctorate every third month,” but it was pure fun for Adkins.
He taught editorial illustration at Rhode Island School of Design and at Maryland Institute, School of Art. He helped start Cricket and Muse magazines, writes for WoodenBoat, Chesapeake Bay, and several other marine magazines, and is an associate of Eisterhold Associates, exhibit designers.
He lived in California for sixteen years but now lives in Gainesville, Florida, with his daughter, his grandsons – Maxwell Ulysses and Lucas Kiernan – and his darling toddler granddaughter, Gloria Zinnia. Their word for “grampa” is “Adkins.” His son, a chef, recently provided a new grandson and apprentice wizard, Alban Sosthenes, in Washington, DC, so he circuits a few times a year to the north. He is generally a very happy man.