My husband (let’s call him… Eric!) is one of 12 grandchildren on his mother’s side alone. TWELVE. Now, you have to understand – I come from a very small immediate and extended family. One brother, four cousins (and I rarely saw them, except my brother of course). So, when I married my husband, I inherited 9 cousins and a couple of extra brothers plus their families plus the aunts & uncles. I was on cloud 9! Although it did take me a while (and a spreadsheet) to remember who went with whom.
Aaaaanywaaaay… one of Eric’s cousins is none other than the focus of our author interview today – Brian White! (cue the applause sign) Brian and his awesome artist wife live with their three kids in Kansas where he works as the Creative Director for TriLion Studios, a design and development company. When he’s not being all senior-designery at TriLion, he’s packing a little something extra in his kids’ lunches – quirky, fun lunch notes! One thing led to another, and he published them in his first book I Love Lunch Notes, full color pages of lunch notes for you to snip and share with your own kids!
I invited Brian to stop by the blog today and chat with us about what’s new with I Love Lunch Notes and his latest book Counting With Robots. Let’s see how he does with our warm-up “fast four” questions.
Me: Apples or oranges? Why?
Brian: Apples. Because of my mom’s apple pie. Crumb crust, perfectly cooked. Fuji’s are my favorite for eating straight. Almost all ways the apple is served up works for me: dried, sliced, baked, fried, microwaved, dipped in caramel, honey, etc. It’s the perfect food.
Me: Mmmm… I have never tried your mom’s apple pie. This must be corrected at the next possible opportunity!
Skittles or M&Ms? Why?
Brian: M&M’s. Chocolate is better darker and purer than M&M’s. Skittles and all sorts of candy like that are just nasty. I would wear a shirt that campaigned against shock tarts or anything sour like that. Actually that gives me an idea…
Me: Uh oh… why does that phrase “Actually that gives me an idea…” sound so familiar? Oh, I know! Because your cousin Eric says it all the time! LOL. It must be a family thing. Or an artist thing. Or an ADD thing. Or all of the above 🙂
Coke or Pepsi? Why?
Brian: Coke. It’s less sweet (seriously), and is perfection. Pepsi tastes like you are trying too hard. Diet Pepsi is less chemically laden than Diet Coke, but they both make me feel sick. I like water with a flavor squirt of strawberry and watermelon (stevia). I do like that the closer you get to Atlanta or the South, the better the coke tastes. In Atlanta it’s seriously amazing. (Extra flavor maybe?)
Me: Agreed! Coke rules, Pepsi doesn’t. Or something like that. And you are right about Atlanta having the best flavored Cokes. Maybe since that’s where it all started? It gets worse the farther away from Atlanta it gets? lol I don’t know but I just spent almost two weeks in Atlanta and very much enjoyed the sodas there. Even though they were the *gasp* diet ones.
Dogs or cats? Why?
Brian: A Dat would be great. (hybrid) A cat smells better than dog, is small and easy to pick up, cleans up after themselves, poops in a box that’s easy to clean. A dog is loyal and loves you most of the time and has a better personality. I think if you could put the nose of a dog on a cat and it could give you the love of a dog, that would be great. My dog died last year and I’m not ready for a new one, but my cat is doing fine for the time being. I think she respects me. 🙂
Me: Or you could just train a dog to go in a box like a cat. That would be easier than the whole nose/love transplant thing. Now.. Zuzu does not really care for your answer because all cats must be banished, in her opinion. BUT she is willing to give you a pass because you are still missing your dog. And because she’s sorry that she always tries to kill you when we visit Kansas.
Since you’re from Kansas and a Jayhawk fan… which WILDCAT team would you root for in a game? Kansas State or Kentucky? (Pssst… for all you viewers playing along at home… Kentucky is the answer we’re looking for here.)
Brian: Rock Chalk Jayhawk! 🙂 Always for Kansas State or another Kansas team like Wichita State over Kentucky. Actually Duke and Kentucky are close to the bottom of the list, where I would randomly root for (someone who I know nothing about) Arizona State over them.
Me: < blinks > Well. I guess I’ll give you points for putting Duke at the bottom of your list. Also, I still just don’t get that whole silly “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” thing. Ridiculous. 🙂 Putting THAT whole debacle of question #5 behind us, what or who inspired you to publish your first book I Love Lunch Notes?
Brian: My kids are great. I made a few crazy lunch notes on napkins for Ellie when she was in Kindergarten or 1st grade. She really liked them and so did her friends at her lunch table. This pushed me to make more and more and after 4-5 years I had a huge stack of notes! I launched a kickstarter campaign to get the first printing going.
Our kids are 5 years apart so I am halfway through elementary school with our second daughter and our son has a few years before he starts kindergarten. I have a long line of cards ahead of me still! I enjoy doing the cards, and also had fun doing custom cards for people off the web site. I love getting pictures of kids holding my books and fun notes from the parents about reading to them.
Me: You are such a great dad!! I know that getting these notes in their lunches makes your kids feel so special and loved – and it’s something they’re going to remember their whole lives. (For my readers – check out the ilovelunchnotes website to sign up for the lunch notes blog, watch the “making of” video, see what’s new, or even order a custom hand-drawn card!! You can purchase the book at Amazon or CreateSpace.)
We can now buy I Love Lunch Notes series books! Yay! Tell us a little more about those.
Brian: Some people didn’t want to jump full into the 130 page $20 book so I broke out the master file into three separate books. I had the original book broken out into multiple sections, so this worked out well to take 2-3 categories and put them in a series book. The three series books make up the main “I Love Lunch Notes” book. These sell from $5 – $7 and gets people’s feet wet. The puzzle and games one seems to do really well for some reason. The “boyish” / “girlish” one didn’t sell well and I changed the name. It’s really all affirmation, which works great for all kids! That one has some of the best notes so I was surprised it didn’t sell as well.
Me: Those look so great! What a fun way to get started on lunch notes! Which lunch note (or series) has been your own personal favorite, Brian?
Brian: I think the robot one with the flower has been my favorite (Stop and smell the roses). There is a guardian angel one I did that I really like too. I collect robots and love the idea around them. I did the new Star Wars robot a few weeks ago and obviously can’t have it in the book, but it was still fun! http://ilovelunchnotes.com/bb-8/
(Visit Brian’s website to purchase your own favorite lunch note series!)
Me: My favorite lunch note is the one of Zuzu… for obvious reasons lol. But, speaking of robots… You also have another book called Counting With Robots, a really fun counting book for toddlers that uses different pieces and parts of robots to teach counting and numbers. How was this writing/illustrating process different from I Love Lunch Notes?
Brian: I had the book idea in my sketchbook and have made so many robots in the past that I thought it would be fun to make a full fledged children’s book that Silas (my 3 year old) would love to read. It took me about 3 months to finish the book. I would work on it at night and on the weekends and whenever I was waiting for a client to get back to me. I became better at the spreads as I went on, and feel like this next book will be done a lot faster. I really liked the idea that younger kids look at the pictures and colors and what the robots are doing. The older they get they realize they can count the different pieces of the robots, so the book grows with the kids a bit.
Me: My favorite robots are the Jenni robot and the Lena robot. Loved the dangly robot earrings and curly hair on the Jenni robot! And, if I were a robot, I would totally have a hair bow like the Lena robot! 🙂 I can’t wait for my nephew to get just a tad older (you know, more than two weeks… lol) so I can read this with him. (You can buy Counting With Robots at Amazon and CreateSpace.)
What’s next for you in the book world? (Zuzu wants me to ask if we can expect a Counting With Zuzus book in the future?)
Brian: No dog books yet, but I did draw zuzu though and it was fun. 🙂 Right now I am doing a book called “40 days of Psalms” which is 40 spreads of a psalm with one verse and my visual interpretation of it in watercolor. (For Adults) It should be published on amazon by the end of July. I am also starting “Colors with Robots” this summer. I have been collecting enough cards for “I Love Lunch Notes 2” which I should have available about 2 weeks before school starts. It will be a fun and busy summer! I am also working on finishing my brianwhitebooks.com site and starting a email list for announcements.
Me: Yay!!! If these are the same watercolors of Psalms that you created during Lent, I am very much looking forward to that book! You will have to stop by the blog at the end of the summer and tell us about your new books again then.
GIVEAWAY!!! Brian White is offering my blog readers an awesome giveaway! One lucky commenter will win a copy of I Love Lunch Notes, a copy of Counting With Robots, 2 original lunch notes, and a signed giclee print (I didn’t know what that was either – I had to google) of the Counting With Robots cover!!! (Open to US entries only.)
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post about the interview or Brian’s books. For extra entries, follow my blog (readingismysuperpower) and/or share this giveaway on social media (facebook/twitter/Pinterest/etc). **Make sure you let me know in another comment what you did to qualify for extra entries!** (You can follow my blog by entering your email address in the box in the top left of this page or by clicking “follow” with your wordpress or twitter accounts.) Winner will be chosen by Random.org on Saturday May 30th after 10pm EST and notified by email. If I don’t hear from you within a week, a new winner will be chosen.
Good luck and thanks for reading!!