Speaking with Doug Rowley: A writer with a knack for storytelling

Hello Author Doug Rowley, Welcome to ABOUT INSIDER! How did you come up with the idea for the characters?
That is an interesting question. I actually own each of the “characters” in the books.  I have 7 grandchildren and the young girls had the best time sitting on their size equipment and pretending to dig and shovel and build.  Then I offered the chance to actually operate the equipment to the adults in the family and I had a remarkably large percentage of the people take me up on digging a hole or moving a pile of rocks for fun. That motivated me to get to telling the story about how they work and how they are used in the construction industry. The little backhoe is about 1/3 the size of a standard construction backhoe.

Its the same with the other pieces of equipment.  Each one is small and what I would call Homeowner size.  They work the same as the full size pieces, they are 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 they had a local artist who would like to take on my project.  They said no, but suggested I contact the art departments of the local collages. I contacted each of the three colleges and found a couple of the students were interested.  The department heads or instructors were very helpful in suggesting students they thought would fit well with the concept. The one who seemed to “just get me” was Hope.  It was so fun to work with her.  She could hear me describe the page and show me an under drawing and it would be just what I envisioned. 

Do you write the stories first, or get the illustrations crafted?
Hope and I work together to make the book as fun as possible.  I do write the story first and make a picture 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 that happen. It is remarkable how few changes I asked her to make.  As a matter of fact most of the changes made to the book were made by me because her drawings fit what I wanted to say better than the first draft of the page we were working on.

What’s the message you want the book to share?
My first book was intended to be read to a young reader or a pre reader.  I wanted the little person to see that size in irrelevant.  You can do whatever you want to do regardless of your size.  The equipment shown in the books do all the work a full size digger or friends do.  Maybe not as large or as fast, but that is OK.  The other thing all of the books convey is there is a bonus to having your friends around to help you with your tasks.

What does success look like for your writing efforts?
Today as I took the series to the library, the librarian was so excited to get a children’s book for the collection.  The customer service agents each grabbed a book and started paging through it to read the simple story and look at the awesome illustrations.  That excitement is the best example of success I can come up with.  As a side note I have made no money from the sale of the books, and that is okay, because the joy of seeing people enjoy the story and the illustrations is wonderful. If the money comes, I can add that as a bonus but not a indication of success.

How did you start writing and what’s your background?
I started writing after retiring from my flying career.  I had always wanted to write a children’s book.  I have no fiction writing experience but I have spent years in the United States Air Force writing performance reports and lesson plans.  The writing of these books came easy and the words are very simple because the intent of the books is for the pre reader of beginning reader.  I expect the books to be picture books with Mom or Dad reading the words as the child points out the elements of the illustrations.  It is filled with houses, trees, roads, equipment, logs, and snow – and the list goes on and on.

Are you aiming at boys, girls, or a bit of both?
I am aiming at the new or pre reader.  There is nothing in the books that a boy or girl would not be interested in.  Particularly now, gender is really not a consideration.  There is nothing in the books that either gender would be unable to do.  The little bit of manual labor is pretty much equally divided in the third book “Meet the People”.  The first two books ‘let’s build a house’ and ‘earth day’ don’t have gender because they don’t have people.  There are a few 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 comprehension needed as the book series flow to the next level. 

For example one book is the series is sending the Digger to Mars.  That is going to take all of the STEM areas into account.  For example, the combustion engine on Digger can not be used in an environment with out oxygen.  The reader will have a 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 love to hear from parents concerning their child’s interests.  in addition, I am not sure if the lack of “operators” is going to be a problem now that “Meet the People” has been published.  I would especially like parent or reviewer input on that.  I expect the series to grow in complexity and information.  I would like to have the construction equipment used for the maintenance of the infrastructure in the US and then be sent overseas to assist with the infrastructure of a third world country.

Any tips for a budding child author out there?
Just do it.  There are so many publishing options out there that a author could self publish or hire a publisher and advisor.  There is unlimited possibilities for artwork both locally at the universities and art schools or commercially both on line and mail order.  With today’s on-line options you can have your artwork done at a few miles or a few thousand miles from home. Art work is not a problem.  Content is anything you like to talk about and follow through is relatively easy.

To know more about Doug Rowley visit: https://dougrowleybooks.com/