I have been asked how my first children’s book, Barry’s Wild Ride, came to be. People seem to be interested in the creative process and want to know what it is that brings a story to life. It’s a great question. My short answer is that I’m not exactly sure how I got my idea, but the longer answer goes something like this:
In late 2003 my wife and I were newlyweds living in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver. My three step children were all young at that time and they liked us to read to them. We had a good collection of children’s books and I became reacquainted with some classics including Blueberries for Sal, The Wind in the Willows and the Illustrated Works of Beatrix Potter. We also enjoyed more recent offerings such as Two Cool Coyotes, The Rainbow Fish, and Walter the Farting Dog. As a result, I was immersed in the world of animal characters and their fantastic yarns.
During that time we enjoyed taking walks to nearby City Park, where we would watch the geese fly and the ducks swim. There was also a slinky red fox that lived in our neighborhood. At one point we took a road trip to Northern California, where we spent hours hiking the trails and observing the wildlife at Point Reyes National Seashore. These experiences, coupled with all the story reading, caused my imagination to fire. When I got back to Denver after the California trip, I wrote down a few children’s book ideas. One of those notions was about a bear who lived in a cave near the beach. The concept was likely rooted in my own fantasy of living a peaceful life in a simple dwelling near the ocean on the Pacific coast.
My ideas were hatched during these early years spent reading, traveling and hiking with the kids, but I didn’t actually write the first tale until several years later. One day while I was in the middle of working on a memoir about another family road trip that we had taken around the country, I decided to clear my mind by working on the story about the bear who lived near the beach. I wrote it one simple line at a time and finished it in two short sittings. I passed the story along to a few friends and family members just for fun and they encouraged me to get it published. Within a year of its writing, and after fruitlessly chasing down some local leads for an artist, I started a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for a professional publisher and illustrator. Through the book’s publisher, CreateSpace.com, I found my illustrator Baird. He caught the spirit and look of the characters right away.
Barry’s Wild Ride was successfully funded in November of 2012 and was published in May of 2013. I suppose the story emerged organically from a combination of imagination and personal experience. And I’m glad it did. I’m excited to have the book in circulation and I hope that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it.
Barry’s Wild Ride (and custom jigsaw puzzle) are available through www.barryswildride.com. The book is also available in paperback on Amazon.com where you can also buy it for the Kindle.