Authors Scott McBride and Rod Thompson spoke to Readability about their favorite books and share the inspiration behind their stories.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
Scott: I’m what you call an accidental author. Writing a children’s book never crossed my mind nor was it part of my plans. However, I had a fateful meeting with my academic advisor, Professor Napoleon Byars, when I was attending graduate school in 2012 at UNC Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Knowing that I had a proclivity for telling stories, he suggested that I put that gift to good use and become a children’s book author. Who would have known that the seed Professor Byars planted would become an award-winning children’s books series that has touched countless lives. Thank you Professor Byars!
Rod: When I was thirteen years old, my family was extremely poor and for my birthday (or maybe it was Christmas) my father bought me a brand new word-processing typewriter. From that typewriter, I found a way to escape the walls of my family’s mobile home and disappear into the fantastic worlds of my own creation. Been writing ever since.
What is your favorite children’s story?
Scott: Hmmm…definitely “Green Eggs and Ham!”
Rod: “The Giving Tree” or “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”
Who is your favorite children’s book author?
Scott: Dr. Seuss of course! Who doesn’t love a story that rhymes?
Rod: Shel Silverstein has a way of storytelling that touches me in the same way as Paulo Coelho, but in a children’s book format. You can read Melinda Mae at forty and it’s a completely different message than when you were six – but it’s still the same story. Finessing a story for both children and adults isn’t easy, but it comes from a natural place and Shel nails it.
What is a quote or motto that brings you inspiration and motivation?
Scott: One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King. He said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Whenever I’m starting a new goal or project, I try to keep this in mind as I begin. I find that once I take the first step, each subsequent step gets easier. Next thing you realize is that you are off and running!
Rod: Faith. Humility. Hard Work. – This is my own, and something I have lived by for years. Even minted the hashtag!
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Scott: Naturally, Rod and I love boats and we love the sea, since I’m in the Coast Guard and Rod is in the Navy. When it comes to storytelling, we try to focus on a moral lesson we would like to get across in the story. That is the first step in the process. Once we find that lesson, we build the story around it. Many times we use lessons that we’ve learned throughout our lives to share with kids.
Rod: I don’t really go looking for ideas. They just happen to find me when I least expect them! Then, from the moment of inspiration, these stories fight through walls of to-do lists, daily chores, dad life, and everything else to reach the page. I do a lot of writing in my car in the parking lot before work.
What do you want the audience to know about you, to make them want to read your book?
Scott: Our ultimate goal with “Connor the Cutter” is to bring joy to children and their families, while teaching important moral lessons. We are so grateful and blessed that we’ve been given this gift to share with Connor and are able to touch so many lives through our stories.
Rod: I don’t think anyone would want to read a book full of life lessons written by someone who’d never experienced life, so I feel blessed that God, my wife, and the US Navy have exposed me to so many trials and adventures in my time on this planet. Everything that Scott and I put on the page, every theme or moral, is something that we’ve directly experienced on a personal level. Honestly, they’re moments that almost every adult has experienced, which enables us to reach the parent just as easily as the children who love Connor the Cutter’s adventures. They say, “Write what you know,” and Scott and I know what it means to be proud, fail, succeed, and even talk to the occasional yellow buoy.