I can hear the suppressed snickers and giggles. There is just something about farting that puts a smile on our face. It’s a “magical tune” from a “magical fruit.”
Rodney sat down with me and we discussed how his adventure began from a simple dinnertime story to a series of farting books so popular, the response has been overwhelmingly powerful and has quickly exploded him to the top.
What made you decide to write about large flatulating pumpkins?
I wish I could tell you I had a bright idea and just had to put in on paper. But that’s not really what happened. The Flatulent Pumpkin was one of those spontaneous emissions. It happened at the dinner table and to keep the family laughing I immediately made up stories of a wise pumpkin that happened flatulent. It was at the center of town and gave out wisdom. But on some days its flatulence produced magic. I have a lovable, attentive and family and they were serious about me writing the story. Since I wasn’t a writer I didn’t take them to seriously. Then they got pushy, in a lovable way.
When did you first begin writing?
The first writing assignment I remember was from my school high school English teacher Ms. Walden. She had the class write an ending to Mark Twain’s Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and read it out loud. When my turn came I remember reading my story and the class kept interrupting me with giggling. And when I appealed to Ms. Walden to stop the class from giggling, she didn’t. She just said it was too funny not to giggle. I never intended for it to be funny.
What first inspired you to become an author? Who or what continues to inspire you?
Although I’m a science fiction fan, my favorite author is James Michener. He’s got a way of wrapping history lessons in the middle of a captivating human interest story. You know you are in the middle of a history lesson, but that doesn’t matter. His story draws you in and compels you to move forward through our interest in humans stories.
Do you ever get so caught up in your own stories that it often blurs with reality?
I love that you’ve asked me. My initial response is “No”. I’ve never been a large flatulating pumpkin. But there is a joke in one of the stories, which started invading my dreams and I’d wake laughing.
What is your favorite genre?
Science fiction. Life without relevant science fiction would be a little dull. I like Orson Scott Card’s Enders Game.
Does anyone help you when you get stuck? Or do you go it alone?
It’s interesting when I hear writers have this thing called writer’s block. I guess I haven’t been a writer long enough. But I don’t get blocked – not really. I will walk away from an idea until the natural subconscious process moves it along.
I have no problem bouncing things off the family. In fact the Flatulent Pumpkin stories are a family project. In more ways than one it’s the most fun family project that’s ever existed.
Do you have any other hobbies besides writing?
I like a little of everything. I like sports and nature. I love history and exploring. The only thing I lack it time.
When writing The Flatulent Pumpkin did you know you were on to something special?
In the beginning I questioned everything. I didn’t know where to start nor how to write a story. In the middle of writing the second story what kept happening is that I’d leave my writing spot to bounce an idea off the family. We’d laugh hysterically and for thirty minutes we were still laughing. I remember telling them I had to get back to writing. This kept happening and happened while writing the third story.
Where did you come up with your ideas?
They come from anywhere and everywhere. I’m in that group with so many ideas 99% will never see the light of day. I’ll see, hear, connect two different concepts and the next thing you know poof, another compelling story! Mostly they come from paying very close attention to life around me. Somewhere in my process there is that age-old way of starting a story, “What if”.
What do you want people to walk away with?
Smiles, enlightenment and a better understanding of important facts about themselves.
Why did you decide to self publish?
My first rejection came frighteningly quick. I remember thinking the hours I spent researching and querying the agent was an unwise investment of time. I researched self-publishing operations. That’s when my business side of my background sprang forth and I marched ahead methodically and independently. I was also getting a lot of advice of what I consider the podcast university of publishing.
Would you say its been challenging?
Yes! In the traditional publishing model a group of professionals perform vital tasks. When you do what I did you are responsible for everything. I would advise any person considering self-publishing or independent publishing to investigate thoroughly. Know what you are getting in to.
The absolute best thing about independent publishing is that I choose the professionals I work with. I choose the editors. I choose the illustrator and book designer. For this alone its been the best decision for my project. I would also say I hit a home run with my illustrator, book designer and editors on the first try. Something tells me this is uncommon.
About Book Cover Design: How did you find your illustrator?
Gary Wein draws beautifully. I was lucky to find him on the internet site Ifreelance.com. I posted a project on the site seeking an illustrator for a children’s book series. I received quite a few replies from prospective illustrators. Gary’s artistic signature stood well above the rest. I eventually found he was very easy to work with and had a sense of humor which complemented the project. I think its hard to improve on this combination, but he did. His attention to detail is epic. His patience and his enthusiasm to paint my vision surprised me. He said he wasn’t finished until I was completely satisfied.
Although Gary is my first an only illustrator, from what I’ve read about the process, our methods are quite involved. It starts with me and my family deciding which scenes to illustrate. I provide Gary with the appropriate passage and scene set up. He provides a sketches until we agree on the final. Sometimes it only takes a sketch or two. Usually we are modifying the scene by adding, taking away and/or rearranging. Sometimes its taken up to six or so to finalize the sketch for one picture.
Then Gary starts painting. Its always a great day in our house when one of his paintings come in an email. His paintings are so full of color and so rich in detail, you almost can’t take your eyes away. And sometimes when we think Gary is finished, he keeps going and going, adding details we never considered.
I think the Flatulent Pumpkin series has one of the world’s great illustrators.
What has been the reception to your books?
Unbelievably positive. Extraordinary. Stellar. Outstanding. People are first stunned when they read the story titles. Then comes a smile and more smiles. The reaction is always the same.
Rodney can honestly smile and enjoy the fragrance of success.
“Stuck in the middle of almost nowhere is the little town of Darlina – a place where NOTHING happens, until today. Ten-year-old J.J. and the townspeople witness the strange and unpredictable farting of a giant, magical pumpkin. Curiosity turns to excitement when the pumpkin POPS! and J.J. Disappears! Determined to get to the bottom of this phenomenon, the mayor looks to the sheriff, who shrieks in fright each time the pumpkin sounds off. Who will help J.J? and What will the pumpkin do next? Learn and laugh as this innocent vegetable transforms life in Darlina – one fart at a time.”
“The Flatulent Pumpkin Series” (Available through Amazon)
- The Flatulent Pumpkin
- The Case of the Plucked Chicken
- The Fart WHO came to Dinner
- Gone With the Wind
- Curse of the Downwind
- The Pocket Guide to Cutting the Cheese
- A Fart and a Smile