- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
James Burd Brewster of Pomfret answered questions from the Maryland Independent via email.
Brewster has published three Rocky Hill Fireman illustrated children’s books, “Fire!,” “Something’s Missing” and “Sparky’s Rescue,” this year.
The books are available at Booknuts in White Plains, Amazon.com and Smashwords.com.
Q. How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?
A. My work, since graduating from college in 1977, has required that I write well, but not creatively. In 1990, I created the Uncle Rocky stories when I put my two oldest sons, Ben and Luke, to bed at night.
Ten years ago, I took a week off from work and wrote down as many story titles and plots as I could remember. I actually wrote out 10 complete stories, but had no illustrator and therefore no book. In fall 2012, my wife and I took a creative writing class under Wayne Karlin at the College of Southern Maryland’s Leonardtown campus, and I took the Uncle Rocky stories down off the shelf.
In February 2013, I attended the Life Journeys Writer’s Club, started by Yvonne Medley, and met James Mascia, who told me how to find and hire an illustrator.
Four months later, with the creative help of illustrator Dayna Barley-Cohrs, I have published three books.
Q. What inspires you to write?
A. I write whenever I feel I have something to say that will make people’s lives better. I enjoyed telling the Uncle Rocky stories to Ben and Luke. It gave them memories and instilled in them values that are very important to them today. I want other parents and kids to have this same type of meaningful bond from these very same stories.
Q. Do you consider writing to be a career?
A. Writing is a very valuable career. While it is not my career at present, I am working to make it my career.
Q. What kind of writing process do you use?
A. My stories contain about 1,000 words each, and it turns out they follow a format. Opening scene, alarm, getting dressed, starting truck, leaving station, performing the rescue or putting out the fire, and saying “thank you” and “glad to do it.”
I first pick the type of incident that a firefighter would respond to and then write the opening, rescue and end. I can do this in a day, if left alone. Katie, my wife, keeps me supplied with water, homemade cookies and encouragement.
Q. How did you publish your book?
A. The Uncle Rocky books are self-published through Smashwords.com and Amazon.com. Self-publishing is a real addition to the freedom we enjoy in America as it allows anyone who desires to actually publish.
Q. Who are some of your favorite authors and why? How much do you feel they influence your own writing?
A. I thoroughly enjoyed C.S. Forrester and the Horatio Hornblower series as well as Kenneth Roberts and his Revolutionary War novels. They gave me a love of nautical things and influenced me to go the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. P.G. Woodhouse and his Jeeves series is an example of comic literary genius and incredible dialogue. “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” makes me cry every time I read it. Uncle Rocky mirrors the young vicar in that Rocky’s life is dedicated in service to others and his two nephews end up like him.
Q. What are you reading now?
A. “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard, given to me by my son, Luke, when he realized I really was going to publish the books.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. Rocky Hill Fireman “Sparky Protects,” “First on the Scene” and “Missy.”
Q. What do you want readers to know about you?
A. I am a Christian and have dedicated my life to helping others. I consider the Uncle Rocky books part of my dedication.
I am happily married to Katie and love to sail.
Share an excerpt from your book.
From Rocky Hill Fireman “No. 1 Fire!”
Uncle Rocky picked the baby up, covered her with his arms and held her close to his chest and turnout coat.
He raced down the stairs to fresh air. The baby still had not moved.
Outside the young mother ran to Rocky, but Bob kept her back until Rocky could examine the baby.
Uncle Rocky opened his arms, looked at the baby, and gave a big sigh of relief.
He smiled, walked over the mother, and gently placed the baby in her arms. She smiled and started to cry. Her daughter was sound asleep.
The mother looked up at Uncle Rocky with tears in her eyes and said, “Thank you. Thank you for saving my baby. Thank God you came in time.”
Uncle Rocky felt good. He also thanked God. This is why he had become a firefighter.
He looked into the mother’s eyes and said, “Glad to do it!”