The Noticer Returns Interview

Family, Writing | 43 Comments

The Noticer ReturnsAs you may know, my new book, The Noticer Returns, released this week! In anticipation of release week, my team sat me down and asked a few questions about the book. We discussed everything from common parenting mistakes to unexpected surprises you’ll find as you get further into this new tale about Jones, the Noticer.

Read on, and please ask your own questions in the comments section! I’ll check in throughout the day and answer as many as I can!


If you’re interested in getting copies of The Noticer Returns for your friends, family, organization, church, etc., now is the time to do so!

If you get 3 copies or more by October 7, you’ll get my unreleased 4-hour audio program Becoming a Noticer for free. Those ordering a case or more will get 50% off retail price. Go here for all the details. 


What is The Noticer Returns about?

The Noticer Returns is about a mysterious old man named Jones who changes the lives of a group of ordinary families. Jones does this by “noticing” little things about people and life that most people miss. He is the “Noticer” to which the title refers. He uses that gift of noticing to give these parents an entirely new perspective on what raising children is all about.

Jones is actually based on a real person I met when I was a homeless 23-year-old living under a pier on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. His name really was Jones (“Not Mr. Jones, just Jones,” he’d always say) and he really did call himself a Noticer. He is one of the main reasons why I’m not still sleeping under a pier today.


Who would benefit from reading this book?

Anyone who wants to provide “the best” for their children, grandchildren, or any children whom they influence.


What exactly is “the best”?

There are many “good”s and “better”s, but there is only one “best.” And that is what Jones challenges several of the book’s characters to define. Curiously, when they do define it, they are left with a list of standards that even people of diverse beliefs can all agree are results they desire their children to have. As for what this list contains, you’ll have to read the book to find out!


Why did you choose to write this book in the form of a story?

Two reasons: 

  1. It’s a lot more interesting to learn and discover real-life principles when they are revealed in the form of a story. Readers get to see the principles played out in the characters’ lives. It’s also a lot easier to convince people to read an entertaining story than any other type of book!
  2. The smart authors write non-fiction. Ha!


What’s the most important thing parents will learn from this book?

Parents are going to find answers to several questions that they haven’t even thought to ask.

There are so many common occurrences in raising children that people just can’t seem to figure out. For example, we all can think of at least one kid who had great parents, a great family, and an all-around great childhood…who suddenly went crazy as soon as he left the house for college or adulthood. And nobody can figure out how or why it happened!

So the most important thing parents will learn is how to parent according to principles that have already been harnessed by parents who have raised great kids…who go on to become great adults. It’s going to show readers how to pass a way of thinking down to their children so those children actually understand how to make good decisions when mom and dad are no longer around. 


What are some unexpected surprises in the book?

Without revealing too much, I’ll say that Jones provides some much needed perspective on one issue that affects a lot of people and one issue that affects all people—Alzheimer’s Disease and death. I won’t say anything more! But I think readers will definitely be surprised in a good way.


What is the most common mistake parents are making?

The biggest mistakes most parents make (and believe me, I’m guilty of these too) seem very inconsequential. They’re little, day-to-day things that, at the moment, don’t seem like a big deal. For example, a few weeks ago I was explaining how to do something to my son, Austin. This was something I had explained before, and something that he didn’t think needed to be explained again, so while I was talking, he said, “I know I know I know.

Now, at that moment, I could have done two things. The convenient thing would have been for me to put an angry look on my face and say, “Don’t speak that way to me. It’s disrespectful and I’m your father and you will respect me.” And that would have been the end of the conversation.

The inconvenient thing to do—which is what I ended up doing—was to explain a few things to Austin:

  1. Saying, “I know I know I know,” while an adult is talking to you is disrespectful.
  2. You are not a disrespectful kid, so I would hate for another adult to overhear you speaking to me that way and label you as disrespectful.
  3. People who are labeled as disrespectful do not get the same opportunities afforded to those who are labeled as respectful.


This slightly longer conversation not only corrected the problem, but it allowed me to show Austin the thinking behind why I was correcting the problem. Now, not only does he know that behavior is disrespectful, but he has a better understanding of why being respectful will benefit him as he gets older.

In the grand scheme of things, this seems like a small deal. And since we’re told over and over not to “sweat the small stuff,” we naturally think it shouldn’t concern us too much. Over time, however, those little things that we gloss over as parents end up painting the bigger picture of our children’s lives as they become adults. And that’s where I think so many parents get tripped up—taking extra time to illustrate their thought process.


What did you learn from writing this book?

I learned that even a small amount of perspective can change our lives. Because even the smallest amount of perspective can change how we are able to navigate hard times.

What questions do YOU have about The Noticer Returns? Leave a comment and I’ll answer as many as I can throughout the day!



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  • Ken Trupke

    Andy, did you really reconnect with Jones to gather this new wisdom or is it actually a product of your “noticing” since the last book? Either way, fantastic and practical insights! Thanks!

    • Ken! If you run into David Copperfield, don’t go backstage with him to see how the “magic” is done. It’ll just ruin the show! In other words…don’t ask me that! Ha! Glad you liked the book!

  • Heather

    I know that people have said they’ve met Jones in restaurants, and that people have said they’ve ‘done a Jones’ but has anyone ever said, “I now know who Jones is and thank you for introducing me to him”

    • Hey Heather! People certainly have told me they’ve met him. Whether they really did or whether it was just another kind stranger, I’ve never known!

  • jfoley

    is jones god visiting you in your time of crises?

    • Great question, and this is one that a lot of people have asked me over the years (or they’ll ask me if Jones is supposed to be Jesus). This is just my opinion…but God is God. Jesus is Jesus. So, I’m not sure I’d get
      into the business of making somebody into Jesus.

      To me, Jones is a representation of how God works in human beings to encourage other human beings. A lot of times, when God wanted to reach people, he used people to do it. Jones is the embodiment of that.

      • jfoley

        Thank you for answering my question and so far this has been great book. looking forward to finishing the book and listening to your podcast.

        • Thanks for reading, and for listening to the podcast!

      • justjenn

        The connection that Jones was Jesus went off right away for me. I read the book (aloud to my husband) and time after time I would add the commentary, “Oh, it’s Jesus!” I’m not sure how it can be taken any other way when he quotes scripture in chapter 18 (For I know the plans I have for you…) and talks about being the light and battling the darkness. If he’s not intended to be Jesus then I think it weirds me out – because if anyone besides him is saying some of this…

        I’m torn. I loved the book and the message resonates with me and I told my daughter and her husband to read the book (they have small children). I think your mission is to lead people to God in a subtle way…and I get that…people get freaked out and won’t even go there sometimes. I don’t even know what I’m trying to say…:) I guess my perspective is that listing proven standards that get you through life is great, but without Jesus, it’s just a list.

  • Dell Anne Hines Afzal

    I have been fortunate to have followed Andy’s career since its inception. I have also followed his manager, TheRobertD’s career since BEFORE its inception. Between the two of these extremely inspirational men, I have been blessed to have published two books (even in my old age). Through the years of listening to their wisdom and attempting to follow their extremely competent advice, I had come to believe somewhere, someday, there might be someone who would desire to hear what I had to say. That day has now arrived. In my younger years I would never have had the courage to attempt a project of such magnitude; instead I completed TWO. I have both of these men, their willingness to share and their continued influence to thank for my finally accomplishing something I deem important. I have brought a sense of pride to family as well as myself for something Andy charged me years ago to do … Just do SOMETHING. I appreciate both Andy and TheRobertD’s work and continue to be amazed at the conviction, the willingness to share and the kindness shown to all who want to make a difference in our world. GREAT JOB AND THANKS FOR THE INSPIRATION!!! I lOVED THIS BOOK!

  • David

    Hey Andy did you ever find out anything about Jones’ history? Family?

    • Not too much about his history, other than the fact that everyone around town always seemed to know him or have a story about him!

  • Bob

    Your physical description of Jones is wonderful. I can “picture” in my mind what I think he looks like. Is there a reason that there us no photograph or at least a pencil sketch of Jones. It was another great book that can be added to all of your other great books.

    • Thanks, David! I prefer to leave what Jones looks like to your imagination. Many readers have told me that, as they read The Noticer or The Noticer Returns, they pictured a specific mentor from their own life as Jones as they read. I’ve always liked that idea!

    • David

      I picture him in my mind as Morgan Freeman!

  • kitty

    have you seen Jones often over the past 23 years

    • No…only occasionally. Maybe “rarely” would be a better answer…

  • Jan Burch

    Andy, I lived in Orange Beach for 20 years and never met Jones. WAS HE REAL???? How could I have missed him!! janb
    I especially liked that we want to MAKE a difference but don’t want to BE different. What a lesson there.

    • While there is literary license taken occasionally for the story to make sense, TRUTH is the very nature of these books. And the first chapter of the original book, THE NOTICER, is absolutely true to the letter of the law.

  • Daphne Cook

    I’ve read all of your books and this is certainly one of my favorites. As always, I couldn’t put it down but I didn’t want it to end! My question is similar to Ken Trupke. Is the “Jones” in this book the same one that you met under the pier and the same one in The Noticer or are they different people who are full of wisdom and who are great “noticers”?

  • TheShef

    Have you fielded options for turning The Noticer into a movie? I love the engaging style of your storytelling, and can’t help but picture Jones as a hybrid of Morgan Freeman, with Jimmy Buffet’s hair, and just a splash of Jackie Chan’s irreverent humor!

    Keep up the great work!

    • Ha! I’m loving that visual. I’m not sure the old man would, but I do! Ha!

  • ck

    Do you ever donate books to someone who wishes to give them away but can’t afford to purchase?

    • Hmmm… No picture of you and only your initials for identification…

      Well, no one else is likely to tell you the truth about your question, so allow me. First of all, I have given away a lot of books. In fact, we quit counting at 14 thousand-plus…and that was only The Traveler’s Gift. I give them away every day. But a question like this poses several problems.

      1) Because the questioner did not reveal his/her identity, if I was inclined to send you a book, I could not do so.

      2) The question puts me (or anyone else being questioned in this manner) in a bad position. In fact, most people would delete your question or at the very least, not answer it at all. Why? If the answer is yes, there are people who will appear wanting their free books… leaving my advisers to conclude that I can no longer give them to anyone. On the other hand, if the answer is ‘no, I don’t give books to those who can’t afford them,’ then I’m a jerk.

      Therefore, please allow me to tell you what Jones would say in response to that question, but I warn you now, DO NOT CONTINUE TO READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH. For I have found that 1) Jones always tells the truth. 2) It is rarely what I expected to hear. And 3) It is often painful. Only the unvarnished truth (as he would say) is capable of taking you from where you are to where you really want to be. Ready? Okay, here he comes now…

      “Well ck, I must say that when I read your question, I was struck by the relationship between the word ‘wishes’ and the phrase ‘can’t afford to purchase’. Whether they are said aloud or implied, it is curious to me how often those two concepts travel together. For years, I have explained their odd connection, but sadly, many people feed their helplessness and fear by refusing to understand. Please allow me to try again… While ‘hopes’ or ‘dreams’ have great value, ‘wishes’ are an imaginary notion for small children. ‘Wishes’ are only real to those who believe in Aladdin’s Lamp.

      “Before you take offense, I am aware that you did not intend that particular meaning of the word ‘wishes’ in your question to our mutual friend, but it is undeniable that ‘wishing’ is a concept often seen in the lives of many who ‘can’t afford to purchase’ things over and above what they consider to be necessities.

      “Now, the hard part… You must be sure in your own mind that what you believe about yourself (and others) is true. Specifically, I am referencing your description of ‘someone who wishes to give, but can’t afford…’ Unfortunately, we often believe our own excuses as to why a certain action is ‘impossible for me’.

      “So, here are a few questions for you to peruse:

      1) If you cannot afford what you believe to be important, are there things you continue to purchase that are not important?

      2) Do you have credit card debt? If so, do you continue to eat at fast food restaurants instead of making a sandwich for lunch at work? Why?
      3) Do you have cable? For that matter, do you have a TV? Two TV’s? Three? 4) Do you purchase soft drinks? Tea? Beer? It is amazing how much money one can save by drinking water…

      “I could go on, but there is no need. You understand my point. However, know this: I am NOT suggesting that you change your thinking about what is possible or money or anything else just so that you can buy a book, whether it was written by Andy or anyone else. In fact, the TRUTH is that in order for YOU to touch lives using his book, it is not even necessary that you ever buy so much as a single copy! After all, you can read it for free at most any public library or church. And of course, so can those people whom you steer to the book. In this way, you can team with Andy and many others whose mission it is to change lives.

      “So, that’s it for now, ck. For a bit, roll this perspective over in your mind. Don’t reply. I am on to something else and will smile in the knowledge that the important reply–the one you are keeping to yourself–is wise and full of unique perspective. If there were more time, I’m sure we would enjoy a long conversation together. But that’ll have to wait, because as we both know…time is short and there is much to do.


  • Jennifer

    I love and have read all your books…I am having a particularly hard time with mom right now due to her illness with Alzeimer’s. So when I read about your new book, I got chills. I know God has lead me to get your book. Will it help to answer the many “whys” I have about her disease?

    • Jennifer…it will help you to understand the major “why” you have, for sure.

  • Janice Willett

    What an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with the rest of us. I couldn’t wait to get to the end and now I’m sad I did. Guess I’ll just start over – there’s so many nuggets of wisdom to remember and use daily! I’m watching for Jones to appear…

    • Andy Andrews

      Janice! Thanks for the kind words.

  • about2leave

    Loved your book! Very inspiring! Lately I find myself being a Jones to other people but can’t seem to get through to them….part of me feels like maybe I shold move on……

    • Andy Andrews

      Do what you know to do and don’t take it personally when people don’t “get it”. Personally, I’ve seen evidence of quite a few folks that Jones has not been able to “get through to”, but you haven’t heard about them because their stories didn’t turn out too well. Soooo….they didn’t make the book! This reminds me of something I heard the old man say once about a similar situation. “You can lead a jackass to water,” he grinned, “but you can’t make him think.”

  • Heather

    I have a Noticer of my own, Andy. The relationship began 24 years ago. I say “relationship”, because it’s unlike any friendship I have ever been in. I still feel like a child, even though I am a grown woman now. How do you comet terms with the power imbalance and find yourself able to be a true friend to someone who is in a parental role? In it possible? Scratching my head and trying to wrap my brain around why its been so difficult to leave the nest. What’s out there is fantastic, but I miss the safety of the relationship. It’s tough.

    • Andy Andrews

      Difficult to leave the nest? Yep, it always is for both sides. But healthy relationships find a way to make it happen. Hollywood has a long list of wild movies about relationships that did not effectively navigate that normal part of life. And Heather…your metaphor was apt, therefore, keep it in mind. Baby birds always (always) leave the nest. You can do this in a way that is respectful, grateful, and honoring.

  • Ken Metzger

    Andy , you truly inspire me. I live my life (which has included surviving cancer and a heart attack ) trying to instill in people that ” it is always TOO soon to quit! Fight on ! Victory(in this life or the next) is in your grasp! I have written a book that I would love to send to you ” The Potter’s Perfect Piece ” and have three more ‘children’s book under construction. I ,too ,am a story teller as I believe that our Lord was the Master of wrapping real God -filled truth between the slices of parable bread .
    Mailing address? Be blessed
    Ken Metzger
    East Amherst Ny

  • Debbie

    Brilliant as usual, Andy! Thank you for letting “Jones” speak through you at the right time, which only he knows 😉 I’m not done yet, but each chapter is hitting home exactly when I need it most. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here 🙂

  • Freida Thomas

    Hi Andy, I have read all of your books and just finished “The Noticer Returns.” Even though I am not a parent and never will be, the Noticer in both books (Jones) continues to inspire me to become more like him. I also picture the Noticer as being like an angel of God put here on earth to inspire, bring hope, and change the perspective of people who desperately need it. My perspective and the way I think about other people and life in general has and is still changing for the better because of Jones. Thank you!

  • Joy Turner

    Andy, already knows he is my favorite author. I bought “The Noticer Returns” to read on the plane for a holiday trip to Europe. I was completely entertained and lost in the story. It made the trip go so fast. It gets harder and harder to decide which one of his books is my favorite. They all are!

  • Amirul Hasan

    Dear sir Andy, I’m a 20 years old kid from Malaysia. I’ve read your previous book,the noticer and I’m lovin every bits of it. But I kinda have a big problem right now. I never had the chance to meet “Jones” . I don’t to who I want to express my problems. Nobody seems to care. Long story short I’m a struggling engineering student. I need to score at least 2.5 GPA to further my degree. And needless to say I’m very far from reaching that GPA. So words like “study hard!” Won’t enlighten me. I lost my way. I really need a little perspective 🙂 (I know you probably won’t reply but I’m just taking my chances)

  • Susan Walker

    Andy, I just finished reading “The Noticer Returns” which I could not put down. I am fascinated, inspired, yearning, and in awe of Jones and his incredible wisdom. You may have struggled with getting this book written but it you did an amazing job in both getting your message to us to help us develop a “mission statement” for whatever it is we want to achieve and a process to achieve it and allowing us to share the experiences of the characters and their relationship with Jones. I just know he has to be your angel as well as an angel to others in your area. I wish I had a “Jones” in my life. You are truly blessed. Thank you for sharing your life with us so that we too may grow.

  • Ron Austin

    Andy, I am not one who reads books (other than scripture for my everyday devotions) however my wife (of 42 years) and I picked up the book “The Travelers Gift” and we could not put it down. Since then we have read three more of your books. They are all “Awesome”! I teach at a local college and would like to suggest to all my students that they really need to read your works. Thank you for your work! … are a good man! (To use one of your quotes).
    Ron Austin

  • Andy, my son made a recording of my wife reading The Noticer so I can
    listen to it while I’m commuting. I’m chomping at the bit to write a
    screenplay for it and cast Morgan Freeman as Jones. That’s the image of Jones that I have in my mind. I did some searching on IMDB and saw that Saint Aire Productions has already acquired the production rights for it. Is that moving forward?

    • Jerry Diday

      Think about Lee Trevino as Jones!

  • Klára from Czech Republic

    Good evening! 🙂
    I’ve just finished reading – the second book of “The noticer”. I’am really glad that I decided to buy them. Thank you for your decision – to wrote it! 🙂
    I’am not hundred percent sure, is it true story?
    And I think everyone sometimes meets “Jones” 🙂
    God bless you! 🙂

  • darkwingdave

    One of my closest friends passed away a few years ago, his (last) name was Jones and he was an African-American gentleman a decade or so my senior. I read an excerpt from “The Noticer Returns” at his service. It fit perfectly.
    “Really now, can you avoid regret?”
    “No unfinished business.” he replied simply. “No good things left unsaid. Wrap folks in your arms. Express your gratitude. Always say, ‘I love you.’ ” Then he shrugged. “That’s how you avoid regret.”
    “Really?” I pushed him. “That’s it?”
    I will never forget..he stopped walking and turned to face me. “Yes, son.” he said. “That’s it. I thought you knew. But maybe you just don’t want to think about it right now. One day you will. To avoid regret, you do and say and express every good thing you can possibly do and say and express to those you love. ‘Cause you’re going to find there isn’t always time to whisper good-bye.”