Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Origin Story: My Life With Ollie Bug #atozchallenge

If you've read any of my stories so far you already know my childhood was anything but traditional.  My parents divorced when I was around seven and were so opposite in personality one could make the argument they had no business even meeting each other.  They did and here I am, proof that they got along at least once.  Well, I have a sister so make that twice. 

My childhood was the overlap of the chaos created when a liberal hippie feminist meets a tough guy Italian macho dude.  Oil and water.  I got shuffled around as my mother moved from place to place and I spent non-school times with my father and grandmother (who began at unstable), in Brooklyn when it was still cool to be from Brooklyn.   I wasn't athletic or academic nor was I outgoing. I was shy, overweight and introverted.  I didn't have many friends (unless you count the innumerable jocks who supplied eternal wedgies as friends.  My heroes became my friends.  Captain Kirk, Han Solo, Indiana Jones and the characters from my sci-fi and fantasy books were all my pals. I took them with me wherever I went.  I read, built model kits, painted, played drums and worked with my hands a lot.  I was constantly taking things apart like my grandmother's sewing machine, without knowing how to reassemble it.  

Note: Do you know how many little screw and gears are actually in a sewing machine?  Neither did I.  
Other times, when my father was busy doing something of questionable legality I was out back messing around with his car.  Something he appreciated very much when he needed to get somewhere and I couldn't explain why it didn't start.  

I spent my time at the movies, seeing Star Wars at age ten 58 times, Raider Of The Lost Ark 10 times, Empire Strikes back 12 times and Grease seven times (That was my sister.  Really).  I also consumed TV like chocoholics imbibe Hershey's syrup.  I could give you the title of every original Star Trek episode within 15 seconds of the start, I could quite every line from nearly every Odd Couple, Honeymooners  and I Love Lucy.  I could tell you from memory the entire Saturday and Sunday evening TV lineup for all three network channels.  I was a wild party.

Along came a spider...
Along came a spider...
Ollie Bug is a character I created for a series of children's picture books.  Or so that's the story I tell.  In reality, like Ben Kenobi in Star Wars was really Obi Wan Kenobi, Ollie Big is really me and he's been there all my life.  He represents the childhood I wanted.  He's a spider with only five legs because it makes him different.  The five legs also  represent the five aspects of myself; the writer, the painter, the performer, the inventor/builder and the inner kid  who loves to play.  Everything Ollie story is either a direct reflection of my inner child.  I've been told Ollie even looks like me; big bald head, big eyes and a wide nose (though mine does not look like a tomato).  It wasn't intentional.    
I'm asked, "Who is Ollie written for? What's the target audience?"  The stock answer is that he's a character for children but really, he's for everyone.  If you remember the tree houses and snow forts of childhood, love pizza parties, movies and playing, he's for you.  If you have an inner kid that longs to 

sing and dance and have fun with your friends without care, Ollie is for you.  I never got to do the things he does nor did I have the friends he has.  So he's my inner wish for the life I've always wanted, the one I'm building over time.  

Ollie Bug Java Mug!
Aside from his blog, I've written four Ollie books and Illustrated two.  I put out a calendar this year which sold out of the print run. Reaction to Ollie on social media has been positive.  I've made original Ollie paintings that sold for more than I imagined which means he's hanging on walls all over the country.  I think we're off to a good start. 

If you'd like to join Ollie's Adventure Team all you need to do is go to Ollie's page and subscribe to his blog to get new posts via email.  The only cost is a thirst for adventures you dreamed as a child and a (relatively) sunny disposition.  Take a ride with us, it's always fun to make new friends and we share our pizza.  

Ahoy there!
Love and pizza,
Tom & Ollie
Tea time in the meadow.

Thank you for visiting.  I love  and answer all comments so please follow or subscribe to be part of the chaos here!  I also have a picture book blog about the life of Ollie Bug about an adventurous five-legged spider and the mischief he gets himself into at Ollie Bug's Blog , also part of the A to Z Challenge.  You can also find me on Facebook,  Instagram  Twitter

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