Today, we are bringing you an exclusive author interview with debut children’s book author, Oscar Redden IV.
The Smart Cookie : What made you want to become a writer?
Oscar: Writing poetry was a way to express my thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner. At the time I was extremely shy. I was not the “social butterfly” in high school or college. I needed an outlet. Additionally, writing helped me understand and discover my voice. It was the only time I did not care about breaking a few grammar rules—delivering the unvarnished truth about life.
The Smart Cookie: How have your life experiences contributed to the creation of a character such as Albert The Albatross?
Oscar: I believe the exceptional home-training my parents instilled in my childhood was crucial in the creation of the character of Albert the Albatross. Lessons such as “treat others fairly, standing for a purpose, leading with integrity, sharing, being a team player and etc” all fueled the character. Many of the challenges that arose I had experienced or watched others endure. Throughout my life experiences, I was able to apply these teaching moments to become wiser, all while managing my emotions and projecting an effective attitude.
The Smart Cookie: What made you want to transition from writer to author?
Oscar: I consider myself to be an entrepreneur; I like to “dip and dabble” in different areas. I was not privy to authorship prior to my initial picture book. I looked at the transition as a short-term goal for 2019. Again, I do not have formal training or background in writing.
I took a chance on a message that I think resonates in society and will ultimately define everyone: how did we treat others, and did we live a life of pride that we would be comfortable telling our parents about?
The Smart Cookie: If you could chat with one person living or dead, who would it be and why?
Oscar: I would love to chat with my beloved grandfather, Oscar Redden JR, who recently passed away suddenly. He was my role model and gave me my very first job. Working alongside him, I witnessed his ambition, service to his community and love for family which left an everlasting impression on my life. I dedicated my book to him in memory of his life.
The Smart Cookie: In the book, Albert travels around and meets many people. Name a place you traveled to that changed you for the better. Talk about the experience.
Oscar: Approximately 4 years ago, I traveled to Costa Rica on a mission trip. The country was beautiful and solely driven by agricultural. Costa Rica contains over 100 volcanoes, positioned throughout the land. Uniquely, when the volcanoes erupt, the molten lava rolls down from the highest peak and saturates the land with minerals- spurring vegetation growth. Because the minerals in the lava are so rich, there is no need for farmers to do crop rotation, making farming easier and prosperous. When crops are harvested, they are sold as exports into America helping Costa Rica’s economy.
During my mission trip to Costa Rica I had the honor of serving at a non-for-profit recreation center for the youth. There I assisted with the sanding and painting of walls and helped with the mentoring of kids. This center was located right outside the capital, San Jose, in a small village called La Carpio (or the Village of Hope). I learned this village’s population is mostly children. Most of the kids attend school for half the day while the reminder work jobs to help support their families. Because children start working at an early age, education becomes less of a priority. I learned that the kids in this village do not have the opportunities to attend college. This was an “eye opener” for me as often we take access to education for granted in the United States.
Also, I visited another town called La Fortuna located right outside the capital. There I volunteered at an adoption shelter doing yard work- digging, planting and removing weeds from the garden. Also, I played board games with kids and colored with them. The kids seemed to really enjoy our company. However, it was heartbreaking to see them start to cry once we started to leave; their smiles faded. There were children asking us to adopt them. They sensed that no one was coming to pick them up. Unfortunately, our departure meant that they would have to deal with this harsh reality.
The Smart Cookie: What is the most important thing you have learned about attitude?
Oscar: A positive attitude can be contagious. Once you spread it, everyone gets a piece. That’s why I believe positivity is the catalyst to achieving altitude in attitude!
The Smart Cookie: Did you always want to write for children? Why or why not?
Oscar: To be honest, my intention was never to write for children. However, I saw an opportunity and took on the assignment. There are millions of kids across the world growing up without hope and aspirations. I wanted to create a picture book that had some substance and taught valuable life lessons to impressionable, young readers.
The Smart Cookie: When not writing, what do you like to do in your free time?
Oscar: I like to exercise. Also, I enjoy listening to old school R&B and hip-hop. I enjoy attending sporting events such as basketball games. Most of all, I enjoy spending quality time at home with my fiancé tending to our flower garden.
To order Oscar’s book, please visit here.