Carole P. Roman wasn't always a children's book author. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens before settling on Long Island, she became a teacher, then a mother and finally went into the family transportation business. But once her own kids had kids, she realized she wanted to try something more creative.
After watching his mother make up stories for his young child, Roman's son dared her write a children's book. So in 2012, she self-published Captain No Beard - An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life, a rollicking adventure about kids pretending to be on a pirate ship. Although it was initially done as a lark, the book went on to make Kirkus Reviews' list of the Best Indie Books of 2012 and suddenly a series of books—and Roman's new career—was born.
We're giving away copies of Roman's second Captain No Beard story, Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience, to ten lucky readers. Read on for details on how to enter, and for our interview with the author about her favorite places to take her grandchildren, her creative inspirations and a peek at the new books she's working on.
Had you always dreamed of becoming a children's book author?
Well I've always had a creative bent. A while ago I even wrote a steamy romance novel under my real name! But with Captain No Beard, what happened was, one morning one of my sons said, "I dare you to sit down and write a book." I figured why not? So I based the first Captain No Beard on a game I played with my first grandchild, Alexander, and self-published it on CreateSpace. It's a great site, it opens up opportunities for people who don’t have connections in the publishing world. It was just for fun, really, but then the book won a Kirkus Star of of Exceptional Merit and was chosen as one of the Best Indie Books of 2012: Children & Young Adults. Suddenly I couldn't stop writing.
You mentioned Carole P. Roman is your pen name. How did you come up with it?
It honors my parents. My mother was named Carole and my father was named Roman. I get a tickle whenever anybody calls me Carole. It's a memorial to them.
You sound extremely family oriented.
I am! In our family transportation business, I work with my husband and two sons, who both live about a mile from us. We all have dinner twice a week together, and I babysit regularly for my three grandchildren, Alexander, 4 ½, Hallie, 2 ½ , and Cayla, who's just a baby. I shared a bedroom with my grandmother when I was growing up in Queens, and when I became a mom, my parents were in my house almost every night for tea. I think it's a big problem today that we don't spend more time together generationally. You need those different points of view. I want to be a constant presence in my grandchildren's lives so I don't end up a distant memory.
Where are your favorite places to take your grandchildren when you go on outings?
We love to go to White Post Farms in Melville. It's nearby and has a great petting zoo and isn't overwhelming for little kids. Garden City's Cradle of Aviation Museum, also known as Long Island's Air and Space Museum, is great. And NYC's American Museum of Natural History is a personal favorite of mine, as is the (currently closed) New York Aquarium. I was born in Coney Island so that was an important part of my childhood. We also spend a lot of time in Las Vegas because our company has an office there. There's so much to do: the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium, the Old West town at Bonnie Springs Ranch, the Springs Preserve nature preserve, which is very educational. A lot of that kind of stuff.
Sounds like Las Vegas should be the next city we profile on our Travel site. In addition to getting ideas from your grandchildren, are there any children's authors who inspire you?
It's funny, I didn’t read a lot of children's books when I was little. My grandmother would tell stories about what life was like in Austria in World War I and talk about our ancestors. I was fascinated with this oral history. So I went from family tales straight into Nancy Drew. So when I had children, I didn’t know anything about picture books. We would read e. e. cummings or Shakespeare or I would just tell stories. Then my daughter-in-law bought Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon and Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar for my grandson and I discovered all of these books I never knew existed! Goodnight Moon is so simple, you shed the grind of life as you read it. And after reading Caterpillar we bought a butterfly kit. I also like Edward Hemmingway's Bad Apple and I think everything by Mo Willems is hilarious. When I read to my grandkids, I like to act out the stories and my grandson is just tickled by that. He even imitates me.
Your second installment of the Captain No Beard series, Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience, just came out, and you also recently launched another series with I Want to Do Yoga Too, inspired by your granddaughter, Hallie. Do you have any other books in the works?
I'm starting a third series, If You Were Me and Lived In... about what it's like to live in different countries from a child’s viewpoint. The first book is set in Mexico, the second, France, and then Kenya, South Korea, Turkey and Norway. The series goes back to my social studies teaching roots.
What do you hope comes out of your new career as a children's book author?
This whole thing isn’t about selling books. I’ve made money and I’ve raised children. Now I just hope to make a difference, to make people happy. That’s what my second act is all about.
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This post is sponsored by children's book author Carole P. Roman. You can find all of her books on amazon.com.