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An Interview with Adam Pickens

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As a devoted father with a professional culinary background and a recent rekindled passion for cooking and desire utilize my, until recent, dormant culinary arts degree. I find immense joy in sharing the kitchen with my children as we adventure with food across the world. Witnessing the delight on their faces as they proudly announce, “Mom! Dad and I made this!” after a long day for my wife, who works tirelessly as a hospital nurse, is truly rewarding. Introducing worldly flavors and culinary experiences into their lives we embark on adventures right in the comfort of our own kitchen. Food, for us, serves as a conduit that strengthens our familial bond, and it’s a passion I’m eager to share with others.

Beyond the kitchen, I cherish spending quality time with my beloved wife, Sheena, and our children, exploring new cuisines, engaging in outdoor activities, or simply enjoying a movie night with our beagle and foxhound pups. Additionally, I find relaxation and entertainment in computer and video games, rounding out a life filled with family, food, and fun.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

My inspiration for writing was a deeply personal one: the passing of my sister. My sister’s legacy of positivity and impact on the world inspired me, and I found solace in the idea of creating something meaningful. Witnessing other parents struggling face with picky eaters and similar challenges, I felt compelled to contribute positively to the parenting community through stories. This led me to establish, a food blog tailored for kids and parents alike. At this time we are revamping to be an author page that highlights not only our books, but other books that encourage trying new foods with children.

As I dove head-first into this food blogging endeavor and reading research, I discovered the profound influence children’s literature can have with food and children’s willingness to explore new flavors, cuisines, and cultures. Drawing inspiration from a multitude of beloved books that our little adore, including Dragons Love Tacos, Mud Pie Annie, and The Moon Might Be Milk, I was driven to create Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans. These children’s literary works not only captivated our daughters but also ignited a passion within me to create stories that impassion culinary curiosity and exploration in children.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

The inspiration of this book, as previously mentioned, stems back to one of the hardest moments in my life: the passing of my sister. Driven to make a positive impact in my own corner of the world, I embarked on an adventure to create something tasty and meaningful. Initially, as I began developing recipes for a food blog, I realized that they lacked something an ability to capture a child’s interest. The stories accompanying most food blog recipes fail to resonate with children and even my own daughters, prompting me to seek inspiration elsewhere.

Drawing from the hundreds of readings of books like Beastly Feast with my girls, I recognized the power of storytelling, as I had read in research, capturing their imaginations and fostering a love for cooking. Cooking with my children further solidified my vision for Gourmet Gus—to create a space where kids are able to actively participate in the kitchen alongside their parents.

Moreover, the connections I am able to maintain with my sister’s friends proved instrumental in shaping the trajectory of this project. Meeting the illustrator of Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans through my sister’s network not only added a personal touch but also forged a valuable friendship, enriching the collaborative process and imbuing the project with deeper meaning.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Choosing the title initially seemed fairly straightforward, yet the process involved exploring a variety of iterations before settling on Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans. Throughout the brainstorming phase, several title options were considered, each offered its own unique perspective. One notable contender, “Gourmet Gus Eats New Orleans,” stood out as comical favorite, albeit one that did not make the final cut. This title, while amusing, evoked whimsical imagery of a giant raccoon feasting on the city of New Orleans—an entertaining concept, albeit not quite fitting for the book’s tone and theme. Ultimately, after careful consideration, Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans emerged as the perfect encapsulation of the book’s culinary adventures within the vibrant backdrop of New Orleans.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

If Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans were to have a soundtrack, it would undoubtedly feature an eclectic mix of music capturing the essence of the city’s rich culture and energy. Among the standout tracks, a rendition of “Louisiana Fairytale” by Davina and the Vagabonds immediately comes to mind. Its lilting rhythm evokes the enchanting allure of New Orleans, making it a perfect accompaniment to the culinary adventures within the book.

Additionally, “Down in New Orleans” by Dr. John, famously featured in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, would be a delightful inclusion. This song will add a touch of familiarity for young readers, but its lively melody and spirited lyrics again capture the spirit of the city, inviting listeners to immerse themselves in a city ripe with culture, music, and of course FOOD!

The soundtrack for Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans would undoubtedly enhance the reading experience if played in the background and transport little readers on a musical journey through the heart and soul of the Big Easy.

Describe your dream book cover.

My dream book cover would absolutely be drawn by the immensely talented Sarah Dallas, whose artistic vision continues to be instrumental in bringing Gourmet Gus to life. Sarah’s abilities are unparalleled as she weaves color and lines transcending the visual realm, imbuing her creations with a sense of vitality and movement that captivates imagination.

Reflecting on her final cover design for Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans, I was struck not only by its beauty but also by an ability to evoke a multisensory experience. Through Sarah’s artistry, readers will be able to the lively scene depicted on the cover—the band waltzing down the street, the music swirling amidst the night sky, transporting readers to the heart of New Orleans’ vibrant culture.

Forced to choose an alternate cover? It would undoubtedly feature another of Sarah’s masterpieces, perhaps showcasing a shrimp boil with steam swirling amidst the lively sounds of a beautiful jazz singer. Her imagery perfectly encapsulates the essence of New Orleans, celebrating its culinary delights and musical heritage in a visually stunning feast. Ultimately, any cover where Sarah Dallas’s creative genius would be a dream come true, captivating readers and inviting them on a sensory journey through the pages of Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Throughout my life, I’ve explored various industries and roles, each contributing to a diverse point of view and enriching my experiences. Initially, I was immersed in the culinary field, serving as a kitchen manager in a local cafe, and honing my culinary craft in culinary school and on kitchen lines. However, my career trajectory later led to become a business professional, where I transitioned into the role of a data analyst, specializing in writing code and developing detailed analytics.

While my professional path may have shifted away from the culinary world, my passion for food remains. I enjoy supporting local restaurants & partaking in a diverse array of foods from around the world. My love for gastronomy is a facet of my identity very likely is apparent to my readers and continues to influence and inspire my creative endeavors.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

During the writing process for Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans, I found inspiration in a diverse range of books that served as both research materials and enjoyment. While I was immersed in children’s literature alongside my kids, I enjoyed a counterpoint in my personal reading. Lately, I’ve delved into the realms of horror and horror-adjacent sci-fi, finding intrigue and excitement in a chilling creature feature or scientific scares of independent authors.

One notable read currently is Ghost Mine by the talented independent author Ben Wolf. This gripping tale is captivating my imagination with its eerie atmosphere and compelling storyline. Additionally, I found myself devouring this short creature feature, Sabbath of the Fox Devil, by another independent author, Sam Richard. This haunting exploration of dangerous creatures offered a captivating escape from the everyday, fueling my creative endeavors despite its dark allure.

As a supporter of independent authors, I take pleasure in discovering and promoting works of other talented writers within the independent literary community. By immersing myself in their narratives, I may not always find inspiration in these creepy stories for my own writing, but I love they contribute to the vibrant ecosystem of small-scale publishing.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

One thing I hope readers take away from Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans is a sense of adventure and a lifelong love of cooking quality food. My ultimate goal is to ignite a passion for reading, exploration, and cooking among children and their parents. While our target audience primarily consists of young readers, I also aspire to inspire parents and children to engage in meaningful activities together, such as reading and cooking as a family.

In envisioning our perfect readers, imagine a family nestled together on the couch, eagerly flipping through the pages of Gourmet Gus Eats In New Orleans. As they journey through the culinary and cultural adventures within the book, I hope they are encouraged to try new foods and embark on their own kitchen adventures. Ultimately, our perfect reader is any family who embraces experiencing life together, both within the pages of our book and beyond, as they come together to create memories and foster a lifelong love for reading and cooking.

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