Carole P. Roman is former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a business with her husband that employs close to five hundred people. Her most favorite job is being grandmother to her two fairly new grandchildren and her most favorite occupation has always been sitting in that big, cozy armchair next to a bed, reading a great story to someone she loves. Being with her grandchildren has awoken her spirit of the absurd as she goes on daily adventures with them to outer space, fashion shows under the sea, and of course, always back in time for dinner. Roman has two wonderful sons and hit the jackpot in the daughter-in-law department. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband of thirty-four years.
Carole P. Roman: I have always loved pirates. Their colorful language and exciting lifestyle make for excellent adventures. One of my fondest memories was going on Disney’s “Pirates of the Carribbean ” ride and eating an amazing lunch in the Blue Bayou restaurant afterwards. We in fact, recently went with my four-year-old grandson who reveled in the atmosphere.
NR: After your oldest son published his book Just Ask the Universe, he challenged you to write one. Do you think you would have written Captain No Beard, if your son hadn’t dared you?
CPR: My grandmother was a terrific storyteller that awakened a love in both reading and history. I have always entertained the kids with historical anecdotes. I love making history come alive. I was a social studies teacher thirty five years ago and know how much children relish a good story. I think I have a million tales in me, so the dare from my son made me commit to paper.
NR: You dedicated your book to Alexander for reminding you “how much fun it was to go from the bottom of the sea to the most distant star- all in one day!” Did playing with your grandchildren spark your interest in writing for children?
CPR: All my life I thought I had a book in me, but somehow between bringing up the children, building a business and just everyday life, I never had the time to really complete the task. When I thought about writing, it was never with the idea of a children’s book. Playing with Alexander reawakened such a sense of the absurd. He is always up for anything and his imagiantion is boundless. I was reeling from the loss of my mother and playing with Alexander suspended the grief. It seemed natural to commit our fantasies to paper.
NR: As soon as Captain No Beard was published, you received incredible feedback from local schools including one in Manhattan that used your book as part of the curriculum for the entire week—with students swabbing the decks, etc. How did you feel to see your words inspiring children to learn in the classroom?
CPR: When I began to receive feedback on the impact of Captain No Beard, I was not only pleasantly surprised but elated as well. It started as a private loveletter to my grandchilden and when I actually read it aloud in his classroom, I couldn’t believe the universal response. After my younger son made a Facebook page, and the school in Manhattan wrote to say they included the book in their curriculum, I realized that maybe I had something special here, so I wrote two more Captain No Beard books!
NR: You have helped run a business with your husband out of your kitchen which eventually grew to 500 employees. It’s a family affair with many members working together. What have you learned from running your own successful business?
CPR: One of the best things I ever did was surround myself with family in our business. My husband is my hero. He dared me to reach the stars everyday of my life and he encouraged me to try anything. He never made me feel foolish and when we made mistakes we learned from them. We had no idea that the business would grow to the size that it did. Bringing my parents, brother and sister in law was a natural extention of whatever we did in life. When you work with people you love, in a job you adore, the combination is beyond rewarding. I have learned that if you have passion for what you do, it will inspire everyone to exceed their own expectations. Our children were groomed from the very beginning to learn every job in the company until they chose what was their field. They had to work with us through both high school and college and have five degrees between the two of them.
NR: Which books did you enjoy reading as a child? Who have been the biggest influences in your writing life?
CPR: When I was very young, my grandmother read fairy tales from a book that belonged to my mother. I still have it. She often just related stories of her girlhood in Europe that beat anything I could have read in a book. A friend introduced me to Nancy Drew and I devoured them as fast as I could get them. When I finished the series, I just started reading whatever my Mom or Grandmother were reading at the time. They were prolific readers and there were always books laying around. My favorite books were Gone With the Wind, Shogun, Trinity and Exodus by Leon Uris, so I guess I liked sweeping sagas. I read every night and adore historical fiction about famous people. Phillippa Gregory, Bernard Cornwell, Sidney Shellaberger, James A. Michener, Tracy Chevalier are some of my favorites. I love to read about people who changed life, what motivated them, who influenced them.
NR: Captain No Beard repeats a line throughout the book, “Being a captain is hard work.” Why did you decide to include this refrain?
CPR: I wanted to reinforce that being in charge always brings added responsibility. It was funny, my kids recognized the format that Captain No Beard was directing everyone, and while some may think that’s easy, making sure a job is done right is something we have to do everyday, even when the work is delegated. Also, the refrain then became somewhat of a joke, as the captain complained when everyone else was doing all the labor. I love how the kids chuckled when they realized that. However, I did make the point, that when danger presented itself, Captain No Beard chose not to delegate that job, because that is what a leader would do.
NR: What do you hope children will learn from the pirates’ imaginative adventures in Captain No Beard?
CPR: We are asking our children to grow up too fast. Imaginative play is fun and exciting. They are being overstimulated by all the many outlets we offer, that sometimes I wonder if we forgot the simplist pleasures. I don’t ever remember my children saying they were bored. Imaginations are elastic, portable and condusive to any situation. Tell me what toy can do that!
NR: I understand you’re writing a book about a parrot who suffers from dyslexia. Could you tell us a bit more about this project?
CPR: Pepper the Parrot is very angry when she can’t keep up with the other crew members when they practice their drills. The book deals with tolerance and patience as well as teaches the parrot a neat trick to learn her right from left.
NR: Do you have any ideas for future books that you’re interested in writing?
CPR: “I want to do yoga too” will be available on Amazon.com within a week or two. It’s the story of a young girl who wants to attend yoga class with her mother, but is left in the care of the babysitter at the studio. She learns four poses without realizing and enjoys a great sense of accomplishment. Another Captain No Beard is also just about ready for print. In this story, Captain No Beard must learn compromise and that being too bossy may cost you more than you realize.
For more information, visit: http://caroleproman.com
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Nicki Richesin is the author and editor of four anthologies; Crush, What I Would Tell Her, Because I Love Her, and The May Queen. She is the San Francisco editor for Du Jour and a frequent contributor to Sunset, The Horn Book, The Huffington Post, and Daily Candy. Find her online at https://nickirichesin.com/.