Hello author Doug Rowley, welcome to ABOUT INSIDER! How did you come up with the idea for the characters??
This is an interesting question. I actually own each of the “characters” in the books. I have 7 grandchildren and the young girls had a blast sitting on their trimming gear and pretending to dig, shovel and build. Then I offered the option to operate the equipment for the adults in the family, and a remarkably high percentage of people decided to dig a hole or move a pile of rocks for fun. It motivated me to tell the story of their operation and use in the construction industry. The small backhoe is about 1/3 the size of a standard construction backhoe.
It’s the same with other pieces of equipment. Each is small and what I would call the size of the owner. They work the same as regular sized pieces, they’re just smaller and don’t dig as deep or as wide as the big boys.
Who did the illustrations for your book?
Hope Christofferson is the artist who does the illustrations in the books. How I found her is a story in itself. I went to the art museum and asked if there was a local artist who would like to take charge of my project. They said no, but suggested that I contact the local collage art departments. I contacted each of the three colleges and found that a few students were interested. Department heads or instructors were very helpful in suggesting to students that they thought they would fit the concept well. The one who seemed to “just have me” was Hope. It was so much fun working with her. She could hear me describe the page and show me an inferior drawing and that would be exactly what I envisioned.
Do you write the stories first or do you do the illustrations?
Hope and I are working together to make the book as fun as possible. I write the story first and make a sub-note on each page. The book has full page illustrations on each page. For example, I asked her to leave the sky clear for the text and she was able to make it happen. It is remarkable how few changes I have asked him to make. In fact, most of the edits to the book were done by me because its designs matched what I meant better than the first draft of the page we were working on.
What is the message you want the book to share?
My first book was intended to be read by a young reader or a pre-reader. I wanted the petite person to see this unimportant size. You can do whatever you want, no matter how tall you are. The equipment shown in the books does all the work that an excavator or friends do. Maybe not as big or as fast, but that’s okay. The other thing that all the books convey is that there is a bonus in having your friends around to help you with your tasks.
What does the success of your writing efforts look like?
Today, as I was taking the series to the library, the librarian was so excited to have a children’s book for the collection. The customer service agents each took a book and began to browse through it to read the simple story and look at the awesome illustrations. This excitement is the best success story I can find. By the way, I didn’t make any money from selling the books, and that’s okay because the joy of seeing people enjoying the story and the illustrations is wonderful. If the money comes, I can add it as a bonus but not as a sign of success.
How did you start to write and what is your background?
I started writing after I retired from my piloting career. I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book. I don’t have any fiction writing experience, but I spent years in the Air Force writing performance reports and lesson plans. Writing these books is easy and the words are very straightforward as the intent of the books is for the pre-reader of the beginner reader. I expect the books to be picture books with mom or dad reading the words while the child shows the elements of the illustrations. It’s filled with houses, trees, roads, equipment, logs and snow – and the list goes on and on.
Are you targeting boys, girls, or a bit of both?
I am targeting the new or pre-reader. There is nothing in the books that would not interest a boy or a girl. Especially now, sex is really not a consideration. There is nothing in the books that either sex would be unable to do. The little manual labor is roughly evenly divided in the third book “Meet the People”. The first two books ‘let’s build a house’ and ‘earth day’ have no gender because they don’t have people. There are some pronouns when Digger is described as a “him”
Can we expect to see a whole series flowing from your pen?
There is already a series of three, but the list of story topics is endless. I plan to increase the understanding needed as the series of books level up.
For example, a book is the series Sends the Digger to Mars. This will take into account all STEM areas. For example, the combustion engine on Digger cannot be used in an oxygen free environment. The reader will have the chance to experience science, technology, engineering, and math as the Digger is modified to operate in an alien environment.
How can parents help you shape your next story?
I would like to hear from parents regarding their child’s interests. furthermore, I’m not sure the lack of “operators” is a problem now that “Meet the People” has been released. I would particularly like the opinion of parents or examiners on this matter. I expect the series to gain in complexity and information. I would like the construction equipment to be used for infrastructure maintenance in the United States and then sent overseas to help with the infrastructure of a third world country.
Any advice for an aspiring child author?
Do it. There are so many publishing options that an author can publish on their own or hire an editor and advisor. There are limitless possibilities for works of art both locally at universities and art schools or commercially online and by correspondence. With today’s online options, you can have your artwork done a few miles or a few thousand miles from your home. The artwork is not a problem. Content is all you love to talk about and tracking is relatively easy.
To learn more about Doug Rowley, visit: https://dougrowleybooks.com/