Children's author James Edward Best will visit the Hutchinson Public Library on Monday, Oct. 1. The family event is at 6 p.m. with a meet and greet with Best followed by a reading of his book, "The Irate Pirate." Admission is free and the public is welcome.

Best, who is traveling at this time, completed the following Leader Q&A via email:


What should people expect at your event on Monday?

I enjoy the meet-and-greet time because it allows me to get to know my readers, and some of my readers and their families enjoy the personal face to face (introduction). I think often that authors can be somewhat mysterious personalities. I prefer to be accessible to my readers, have a dialogue, answer any questions and hear their thoughts.

I will talk about the books and explain what we are doing. (Best is the author and founder of Best Story Alive, a team dedicated to producing Fun Stories for Living & Learning), because I want to provide a context. That said, I want folks to simply enjoy the stories and for us to enjoy our time together. I want the members of the audience to feel comfortable in pursuing what they want to take away from our evening.


What inspired you to write "The Irate Pirate"?

It seems to me that most of us often spend much of our time, and, in some cases our lives, trying to live up to the expectations of others. This is not always bad, but it can be very challenging and frustrating, especially if what others expect does not support or, worse, conflicts with our desires. Children are especially susceptible to this and I wanted to share this basic message: This often happens, here is how it feels and here is a practical way you can handle it. I want to empower children, but we need ways to approach the issue while being sensitive to our loved ones and other well-meaning folks, such as teachers.

To me, "The Irate Pirate" theme was an ideal means of sharing the message. Petie is likable and relatable. He shows or reminds us how to follow our own dreams in a fun, light-hearted way. We all love to learn but don’t necessarily like having to be taught. A good story makes learning a pleasure.

As a title, "The Irate Pirate" was perfect. Looking at the words, we expect "irate" and "pirate" to rhyme, but they don’t. And the words feel no need to live up to those expectations. They are comfortable being what they are. That’s an important example for all of us. Having dreams and aspirations is good, so long as they are ours rather than someone else’s.


What age group do you target and why? Your books are more than stories, they seen to impart learning opportunities for children. Do the messages change from book to book or is there an overall theme in your work? If so, what is it?

The story lines and illustrations can be enjoyed by children (age) 4 to 10, and I often hear from readers that the message is useful for all ages. That is, it’s a message about handling a recurring theme in our lives. As children, we sometimes wrestle with the expectations of parents. Later in life, it is friends, co-workers, bosses, spouses, members of the community whose expectations might not fit our choices.

I want the messages from book to book to be consistent. That is, the Best Story Alive books must have an integrity that supports our readers and reflects our values. That said, the messages change, just as our life challenges vary along the way. For instance, "The Irate Pirate" is the first of a fun trilogy. "The Irate Pirate" deals with following our dreams. Our newest release, "An Irate Parrot," shows us how to deal with change and the power of self-belief and confidence.

The third of the series, "Two Irate Parents," due out in January, addresses bullying. This is a serious, timely topic and involves a message that is vitally important: It is wrong to bully, and we can protect ourselves from being bullied. Yet, it’s done in a way that makes the message understandable. And when we, children and adults, are comfortable with a message, we can be successful applying that message to our everyday lives.


How did you become an author?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and, thankfully, enough others have liked and encouraged my writing. It seems like I spent a lot of my time learning things that fostered and supported my own happiness and success, and I want to share that with others.

I also found that when I share what I know with others, it gives me the personal drive to learn more. That’s a positive pressure I put on myself, to stay curious, to ask questions, to be interested and, ultimately and ideally, to be interesting.


What is your writing schedule and process? 

I write everyday, just as a way of staying sharp and improving my ability to express myself. Words are a writer’s tools, so I tend and intend to use them everyday, to keep them close, handy and ready.

I once heard an expression, which I am paraphrasing: I don’t write when I get inspired. I get inspired when I write. The meaning I took from this is, "Don’t wait to become inspired before you create. Writing is a creative process, so get to it and write."

I have a tendency currently to travel often. I always carry a chrome book, but often use the Google Docs app and my iPhone to write. The travel nurtures my writing. I was on safari in Botswana recently, and one of my fellow travelers loved watching warthogs. Our guide referred to them as "warties."

The idea for a story came to me, and a title tagged along. Thirty pages later, the story of "Shorty the Warty (Thwarts a Lion)" came to life. Its message? Dealing with nicknames, using our uniqueness as strengths and realizing that we can all have our own heroic moments.


Do you have a favorite book? If so, what and why?

I have always loved to read and admire many authors. As a young reader, Winnie the Pooh and the work of A.A. Milne really grabbed me. Stories for young readers that had nuances and humor for adults.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Lord of the Rings" is a monumental achievement. Hence, my dream of writing my own trilogy. The Harry Potter world of J.K. Rowling is astounding literary architecture. My world of Stillville (all our citizens are animals) was inspired by her work. And Dr. Seuss also inspired me. 

Steinbeck and Hemingway have kept me captive many times. Thankfully, we live in a world with many great authors and they have given us many wonderful works.


What are you working on now? How often do you publish a book?

As for writing, I’ve just finished "Shorty the Warty." I’ve heard some suggestions for another book with Petie, so I’m exploring that theme.

"Ribbon" (another rhymer) will be out before the holidays, to be followed by "Two Irate Parents." I’ve got a nice family story titled "The Trouble with Thomas" that may be next. It deals with sibling rivalry, but in a sweet, endearing and enduring way many families will enjoy and appreciate. And it is a true life story from when my daughter, Kylee, was born, and the adjustments my son, Thomas, lovingly made.

We’ll continue to offer two to three stories a year for a while, so long as we’re blessed with readers who enjoy Fun Stories for Living & Learning.


Do you make many personal appearances?

I am a people person and enjoy meeting my readers, their friends and family. I am very open to personal appearances and I encourage readers, teachers and parents to reach out with requests and ideas.

If I can help share my message by being there, I will make myself and my creative team available. I am also aware that, for some readers, writers and authors can be role models, and can often provide examples and give insight into self-expression, which is so important.

But I’m also aware that we all have many interests and much to do, so I want my public interaction to be a good thing for all. That is, I want it to be positive for my readers, rather than good for my ego.