Q: First tell us something about yourself ?
I’ve lived in California for virtually my entire life. I am a physician and practiced Pediatrics for 30 years. That was an incredibly fertile ground for inspiration, getting to see, on a daily basis, the boundless imaginations and creative minds of young children. I love family life, children, staying healthy and fit and trying to keep my mind young by observing the ingenuity of children. I am very lucky and thankful for the life I have been given the chance to live.
Q: How and when your journey started as a writer?
I have always enjoyed poetry, rhymes and writing my own rhymes. I grew up in the heyday of Dr. Seuss and was indelibly influenced by his remarkable rhyming books and stories. Later, I was animated by the amazing opportunity of witnessing the development of the minds of my own children and of my many young patients. I wrote numerous poems that tried to capture their magical thinking and, sometimes, their thought processes as the “real” world began to impinge on the world of their fantasies.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
My poems were written for fun and it was not until shortly after I retired that the mother of a couple of my young patients, who I had stayed in touch with and who, to my surprise, was also a gifted artist, read some of my poems and wanted to illustrate one of them for a children’s picture book. That book turned into our first self-published book, “My Dog is the Tooth Fairy” and our publishing company, Lollypop Books. It is fair to say that without my illustrator, Ashley McKeown, there would be no books and no Lollypop Books Company. Creating and publishing these books has become my passion. Marketing makes it a fulltime job but creating something that might both reflect and encourage the imaginations of children is the true joy in this unexpected second career.
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
The first book, “My Dog is the Tooth Fairy”, follows the theme of how a young child’s magical thinking begins to be challenged by her emerging understanding of the “real” world and how she reconciles those seemingly incongruous worlds. Since then, we have published a 2nd book, “A Gift You Don’t Want” and are working on a third book about something all children like…..CHORES! Our 2nd book is about a boy who gets the flu and is told by his mom that his best friend “gave it to him”. He cannot understand why his best friend would “give” him such a “gift” until he learns that he has “given” the flu to his sister, someone he is NOT inclined to share anything with. He comes to the realization that “Perhaps there are some things you give without knowing. You pass them along, though nothing is showing”. The second part of the book includes kid-friendly flu facts, a teaching module for parents or teachers to reinforce how children can prevent getting or giving unwanted germs (fortuitously beneficial for this time of coronavirus, since it was published shortly before that reality emerged) and a “Draw A Germ” page for children to express what they think a germ might look like.
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader? is there any specific reason?
Writing poems and stories for children was a natural for reasons I have already mentioned. There is simply no greater source than the imaginations and creativity of children to inspire one’s own creativity if you are lucky enough to spend frequent time around them, as I was when I wrote most of my poems.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
Actually, it’s hard to recall exact inspirations but most of my poems, and now books, have revolved around universal issues and the transitions children experience during psychological development as they move from magical and egocentric thought to a greater understanding of the outside or “real” world.
Q: Do you want to give any message for your readers?
Yes. If you want to stay “young at heart” and even in mind and body, spend as much time as you can around young children, especially reading to them and trying to see how they experience the world as reflected in their understanding of stories. If you want to write children’s books, there is NO better source of ideas and inspiration than their inquisitive minds and imaginations!