My wife Diane and I have been lifelong dog owners, but when we adopted a tiny wire fox terrier pup named Charlie, we didn’t know what hit us. Terriers are like no other dogs, and he is no exception. We found ourselves experiencing new adventures almost daily, and they were usually a combination of humor and terror. Rumplepimple tells the story of something that really happened: Charlie went in to Shaws Supermarket in Newburyport. He scooted out of the car door before Diane could stop him, raced across the parking lot, and shot through the automatic door. Terriers are simultaneously inscrutable and transparent. I am constantly wondering what’s going on in that busy, smart little brain. So when this happened I imagined how Charlie could have been charging in to save the day, and we just didn’t know it. Poor little misunderstood hero.
I think most of us can associate with that sensation. We want to be judged by our motives rather than our actions, which sometimes go awry.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Write what you love, and don’t give up!
How is your fan base?
I do a few kinds of writing and the fan base depends on the genre. Rumplepimple has been a character on the internet for some time, so he’s got followers despite the book just coming out. I write for Merrimack Valley Magazine, and hear appreciative comments regularly. I get good feedback on my spiritual writing, and have a large Facebook follower base for my Cookbook Love blog. But being satisfied is a tricky question. Writers always want more readers, and want them to like what we produce. So that goes for me as well. (www.rumplepimple.com)
The goals you had when first starting this project, have they been accomplished?
I am very happy with the book. Part of our goals is to make contributions to Wire Fox Terrier rescue organizations from the profits. That will be extremely satisfying. Otherwise I am just really looking forward to getting in front of kids with the book, and watching their reactions as it is read. That’s what it’s all about.
Do you find the internet or traditional publishing best?
I think it depends on your goals and on the book itself. I’m blessed to be married to a social media strategist who specializes in authors and books. For Rumplepimple, she had already been connecting with terrier lovers all around the world. Turns out we are a weird bunch, who band together and are fiercely loyal of our breeds and tremendously communal in our support of each other. There are tons of terrier groups on Facebook and other social media outlets, and so we saw a natural, organic opportunity for targeting. When you have this kind of niche, it makes self-publishing a bit more logical. No matter how you are published, traditional or self, you are going to have to do most of the marketing yourself. If your book is generalized, say generic chick-lit, then it’s going to be really hard to differentiate yourself and your messaging enough to get attention. In that case, traditional publishing might work better for you. When you have a defined niche like we do with Rumplepimple, it gives focus to marketing efforts so that they become manageable and achievable.
I have other book projects that I’m planning to publish traditionally. For example, a novel, a reluctant reader chapter book for boys, and an illustrated story book featuring the creation mythology and spirituality taught to a Wampanoag girl by her father.
Why do you write for children?
My son initially found reading torturous, but once we found something that he actually wanted to read, it was like a light switch being thrown. Suddenly he made the leap from focusing on the arduous task of decoding combinations of shapes into sounds and then translating those sounds into meaning, and realized that there was interesting stuff to extract. For him the kickoff genre was video game guides, but that quickly morphed into books like Dave Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series, which he read for giggles. Kids just can’t seem to resist potty humor.
Rumplepimple has a bit of the naughty irreverence that Pilkey delivers so skillfully, but in it’s own unique style. My hope is that children will find Rumplepimple to be a character they’d like to get to know better. Someone who gets bored and wants to be entertained. Someone who gets into trouble despite having good intentions (usually). Someone who isn’t always understood by his family, but is loved anyway. Someone maybe just a little bit like them.
Any message for same-sex families and supporters?
The fictional Rumplepimple’s family structure is just like the real Rumplepimple’s. He has two mommies and a sister cat. My wife and I believe strongly that providing books that show families of a variety of structures makes sense, because children live in all sorts of familial configurations. Some live with a mom and dad, some with just one of each, some with two of one or the other. Some live with grandparents, others with foster parents, and that’s just a few examples. Social belongingness and acceptance is important for kids. They want to feel “normal”. They want to read about families like their own. Rumplepimple shows that parents act like parents regardless of gender or biological relationship. And that love is what is important.