Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Case of a Bearded Man

February 17, 2018

Every once in a while I come across a little gem that makes my heart go pitter patter. I must say though that I love to read to my grandchildren and they love to be read to. This father I am introducing you to went beyond above for his son and created a fabulous book, My Dad has a Beard. Kellen Roggenbuck as a unique story to tell. I love the book and it would be a perfect gift for Father's Day.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Kellen Roggenbuck

Tell your readers a little about yourself. Where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc.

Kellen Roggenbuck and is son.

I grew up outside Chicago, IL but I live in central Southern Wisconsin now.  I went to school to be a music teacher, but many twists and turns later, I’m the pastor of a growing rural church.  I have an amazing wife and an outrageous 3-year-old son, both of which are very supportive in my life and writing.

What inspired you to write this book? After rereading my son’s books for the hundredth time, and feeling like I could write something better, I put together this book as a silly bedtime read for our family.  I’ve always had a beard of sorts, but when my wife was pregnant, I didn’t trim my beard so that when my son was born, my beard was massive.  The book was a sort of collection of silly things a bearded dad can do, many of which were autobiographical.  I was approached by a local publisher to get the book published by Father’s Day that year, as it’s a book about a dad, and the rest is history!

Are there any authors who inspired you growing up or who inspires you now? I love reading C.S. Lewis, my favorite book being the collection of Narnia adventures.  I also really enjoyed the quirky nature of Stephen Crane’s poetry and the dry wit of J.K. Rowling in my early adult years.  As a children’s author, I have been inspired by Mo Willem’s humor and simplicity and clever book concepts like Dragons Love Tacos and The Day The Crayons Quit.

What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written? The biggest struggle is that this book has been viewed as a niche book since it’s about a dad with a beard, so it’s often only suggested or bought for dads with beards.  The story is told by a narrator telling about his dad, so I think it could be enjoyed by anyone, not just the niche of beardedly gifted fathers.  My next book coming out this spring is also a silly beard book, and so I imagine I will continue to be dealing with breaking out of that niche for some time.

Tell your readers about your book. The story is told by a young child as he explains all about his dad’s beard.  It chronicles the story of his dad growing a beard, the types of beards that other dads have and some of the unique advantages of having a dad with a big beard, like your dad looking like a young Santa.  It’s an easy read for new readers and should bring smiles to the faces of everyone reading it.  It’s highly colorful and engaging and has sold over 1,000 copies over the almost 2 years it’s been in print.

Who is your target audience? My target audience has been dads with beards and young children.  It’s a book that’s bought overwhelmingly as a gift for Christmas, Father’s Day and for expecting dads.  The book is about a bearded dad and if you are a bearded dad will be extra special for you, so it makes sense that that’s the biggest audience for this book.  It’s been so successful in that audience that my second book Great Beards of History will be a follow up with a similar theme and feel. 

What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre? Many of the books I have at home for my son are just so painful to read.  Either the story is boring, the illustrations are lacking, or there are issues like typos, bad rhymes or poor story construction.  I like to think that the care I’ve put into the composition of the book is unique in that respect.  The rhythm of the writing and the subtle humor works well with the colorful and engaging illustrations.  It’s really a book that can be enjoyed by parents while they read it to their children.  There are other great books there that do that, too, I just think that my book can be counted in that category.

How did you come up with the idea for your book? My son used to hold onto my beard when I held him, not to steady himself or yank on it, but as a comfort.  I always loved that, and it made me think about all the ways he experienced me as a dad differently because of my beard.  Once I started writing down the silly things a big beard brought to the father/child relationship, the book sort of came together.  I illustrated it for fun, never really intending to seek publication, but a friend who worked for a publisher saw it and convinced the publisher they had to print it.

What is your next book? Tell us a little about it. - My next book is called Great Beards of History and will showcase some famous people who wore beards, everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Bob Ross.  At its surface, it’s a silly page-by-page biography of bearded people, but underneath it all, it’s about the appreciation of the narrator’s dad, who is included because of his beard and the admiration of his child.  It will have the same illustration style and silliness, so if you loved my first book, this will be a must-have.

Tell your readers anything else you want to share. - My book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s website, and my new book will be released in plenty of time for Father’s Day!  If you are considering writing a book, just do it.  Start, keep going, finish strong.  It’s rewarding in ways you can’t yet imagine!