Colin Eldred-Cohen has fiction and nonfiction story ideas constantly buzzing around his head in all kinds of genres: blog posts, magazine articles, comic books and full length novels.
They can spring up from anywhere, from media I consume to any random thing I see. Some of the story ideas get channeled into writings, some become plots for roleplaying games I play with my friends. I want to say that it’s a gift of the Asperger’s, but one never knows.
But never did Colin imagine that his first published work would be a children’s book! The Fire Truck Who Got Lost was inspired by a charming tale he made up on the spot to tell his two year old nephew a bedtime story.
Tell us about The Fire Truck Who Got Lost?
The Fire Truck Who Got Lost was written for my nephew Atticus, but his new younger brother Sebastian is joining in on the fun. The story is about a little fire truck named Barnabus who lives with four larger trucks and a huge Dalmatian. One day, he gets to go out and help them fight a fire for the first time, but in trying to help, he gets himself lost and tries to find his way home.
What inspired you to write it?
Funny story, my mom called me late one night when Atticus was two years old and asked if I could tell him a story. Having no kids of my own, I didn’t have anything to read on hand, so I thought up a story about a little truck who got lost in a big city. As the days went on, I realized this had a lot of potential and wrote it down. The funny thing is that the prose has remained, with a few exceptions, unchanged from when I first made it up.
Who’s your illustrator and why was she perfect for capturing the spirit of your book?
Amber De Joya has been a friend since college and I knew I wanted her the moment I started getting serious about this. Her art has a naturally adorable charm that captures exactly the kind of joy-inducing feeling that I wanted everyone who reads the book to have. She doesn’t have a website yet, but if I have anything to say about it, she’s gonna go places.
Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
The books itself skews very young, probably 1-5 I would guess. So young children, new parents, and preschools would get the most out of it. I don’t know that this will change anyone’s way of life like Carol McCloud’s Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, but I think a story about someone using their wits to find their way home could be inspiring to a lot of youngsters.
What’s the message you want your readers to take away after reading the book?
The simple one is to always check in before you split off from your group. That goes for kids and adults. The deeper message is that, even if you’re scared, you can get yourself out of bad situations if you think through it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book?
Hard to know what more to say. It’s a simple book that was brought to life through crowdfunding and I’m super grateful for everyone who contributed and helped make this real.
Do you have a proud moment, inspirational story, or moving fan feedback you’d like to share?
Well, the Amazon review from the person I didn’t know is definitely moving, since he obviously wasn’t doing a review to be nice to me (always a fear I have in the back of my mind). But a moment that made me very proud was when my mom texted me that Atticus read the finished book three times in a row and then spent the afternoon playing “Barnabus” and acting out the whole story. It really felt like the whole thing had come full circle.
If our readers leave with only one message after reading this interview, what would you like it to be?
To all those aspiring to do great things, find a good support network of friends, family, and others who will help you get there. I keep moving forward thanks to mine and I don’t have words to express my gratitude. Keep moving forward.
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