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Articles : Talking with Authors

Interview: Brian Rock, Author of 'Don't Play with Your Food!'
Published: Mon, 27 Dec 2004, 01:17 EDT

By Beverly West
Staff Writer, Publishers Newswire
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A chat with a children's book author who describes his work as a playfully picturesque romp through the secret life of food

Brian Rock

Q: Will you share a little bit about your children's book with us?

Rock: "Don't Play With Your Food!" (ISBN: 0-9754411-0-8, Hardcover - 32 pages - $14.99) is like "Toy Story," only with food. Each page is a self-contained story/poem that lets the food get off the plate and dance around a little. If you've ever wondered what food does behind closed cupboard doors, this book will reveal the answers.

Q: Is there an underlying message in your book for kids?

Rock: The underlying message of Don't Play with Your Food! is by all means DO play with your food! More precisely, the message is to play with your ideas about food.

Q: Why did you feel compelled to write this book?

Rock: I don't like the direction that children's publishing seems to be taking at this point in time. I want to return to story for story's sake and to create books that stimulate a lifelong love of reading in kids. I have read that the number of readers in America is declining over the past ten years.

I'm trying to correct this at its source. As a former teacher, I know that many novice readers approach the written page with a great deal of trepidation. My book tires to reward their efforts with a smile at the end of each page. I truly believe the best way to encourage reading is to make reading fun.

Q: What is your background in children's literature?

Rock: I have a master's degree in Children's Literature/Creative Writing from Hollins University. I am a former teacher of at-risk children. In addition, I really enjoy food!

Q: Why do you think this is an important book at this time?

Rock: I think it's important for children's literature in general to move away from trends and celebrity endorsements and refocus on the quality of the story. I hope "Don't Play with Your Food!" can be an important part of that shift back to the essentials.

Q: How has the feedback been so far?

Rock: I've received one transcript from a radio review on WTBF in Alabama. I've had three customer reviews on the Barnes and Noble website (All 5 star!). I am also awaiting a review from Midwest Book Review and several other sources.

However, the best feedback I've received is from parents who say their kids are inspired to write or draw their own stories after reading my book. That's when I feel that I've truly succeeded!

Q: What kind of research did you do to write this book?

Rock: For this type of book it's more a question of creativity than research.

Q: What are your hopes for this book?

Rock: I hope to sell-through my first printing within a year or so. But more importantly, I hope to get a foot in the door -- to gain some recognition and favorable reviews and to be considered a "quality children's author" by my peers and readers and professionals in the industry, as well as by kids.

Q: Where can we buy your book?

Rock: The best place to buy Don't Play with Your Food! is the Barnes and Noble website, Since we have a national distributor, you can actually go into any book chain and place an order for it. But has copies in stock and can ship within 24 hours.

Q: What has your experience been like with self publishing? Do you recommend it over traditional publishers?

Rock: It has been the hardest, yet most rewarding project I have ever undertaken. Every day there is something new to learn, but every order that comes across the fax machine is an early Christmas present!

I recommend self-publishing only if you have the commitment and discipline to follow through with it every day. Although you give up the promotional muscle of traditional publishing houses, you gain a tremendous amount of freedom.

Q: Do you have any advice for other authors?

Rock: Never compromise! And edit, and then edit your editing! Be professional! Persistence! Persistence! Persistence!

* * *

Brian Rock has a master's degree in Children's Literature from Hollins University. His poems have appeared in Highlights and regional publications. He's very fond of Cajun food and peanut MMs (though not mixed together).

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Thu, 22 Jan 2009 01:43 PM EDT