I have a lot of respect for scientists. But even scientists make mistakes, or look foolish, sometimes. And who doesn’t love a story in which the joke is on the main protagonist? Well, that’s what French illustrator, Jim Jourdane, is all about with his brand new book Fieldwork Fail. It’s about ‘the messy side of science’. And, boy, do some scientists get into the weirdest, most fascinating scrapes!
I first met Jim in October last year, at the Cocha Cashu Biological Station in southeastern Peru. Bespectacled, soft-spoken, and unflappable, he was there as guest instructor of the annual Tropical Ecology and Field Techniques Course, to help connect Peruvian students to science - through art.
But I already knew of Jim and his Fieldwork Fail project a couple of months before I met him. He was the guy who launched a Kickstarter campaign and managed to convince 1200 backers to part with 32,700 Euros in order to make his book dream a reality. Impressive. When I took a closer look at his campaign I could see why it had been so successful. Jim’s commitment, integrity, and creative talent shine through every word of his updates. I was charmed by his naïve and fun illustrations. The sample stories were cool and amusing. In short, I fell in love with his project on the spot.
We were both busy at the Station (I was also a guest instructor - on all things giant otters) and we only really got talking during the last evening of our stay. Over a pisco sour, I discovered Jim is not only an artist but a writer, too. I think he would be the first to admit, though, that his English is not 100%, and because I liked the concept of his book so much, I offered my services as a kind of editor /proof reader of the English. Jim said he would think about it.
In early January I received the first chapters of the book for review. That was the start of an intensive editing process. Now, I must admit, I’m no professional editor. But I’m a perfectionist, have had some publishing success, and I love the English language. If that was enough for Jim, it was enough for me. More than that, I felt honoured that Jim trusted me with his work.
After four months, at least five proof reading rounds, and more than 180 emails between us, I sent Jim my final edits and suggestions last week. Now I’m eagerly awaiting my personal copy of Fieldwork Fail in print. As I said to Jim, I’m almost as proud of his book as he must be himself. Would I do it again? Well, editing is hard, fiddly work. Let’s just say, if Jim were to ask me, I wouldn’t say no.
Dear reader, if you would like to pre-order a copy of Fieldwork Fail, in English, French, or Spanish, you can do so here. I’m told the files are already at the printer and the books will be shipped towards the end of June. I guarantee you'll love it! It would make a great gift, too, for adults and children alike.
Jim, if you read this, it has been a great pleasure and privilege to work with you. I wish you every success with Fieldwork Fail and your future endeavors, and I hope we will stay in touch. Un abrazo!