One on One with…Children’s book author Emily Coye

FIRST BOOK authored by Emily Coye of Casco is "Thumbs Up For All," a story about diversity.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Emily Coye is living a very diverse life.

By day, she works as a nutrition educator at Healthy Androscoggin in Lewiston.

“I teach people how to shop, cook and eat healthy on a budget through group classes in Androscoggin County,” the Naples native said.

By night, she works as a bartender and server at the Deckhouse in Windham.

When she isn’t traveling and spending time on her boat with her fiancé, Justin, Emily is fully immersed in her newest venture — children’s book author.

She recently spent a Sunday afternoon on the Causeway as part of Naples for the Arts signing fresh copies of her book entitled, Thumbs Up For All! and talking with interested folks about her venture as a budding writer and business owner — Emily Coye Books.

“I work on ways to promote my new book, fulfill orders, package them up, and ship them out! I am quite busy, but enjoy all that I do and look forward to what each diverse aspect of my life has to offer,” said Emily, who now resides in Casco.

The News checked in with the Lake Region High School grad about the challenges of breaking into the literary field, as well as what lies ahead in her future as a writer.

BN. What inspired you to write a book?

Emily: Honestly, I never had any intention on writing and publishing a book. I have always been creative and spent much of my childhood making up silly songs, rhymes, and stories, but being an author never crossed my mind. One day, about six years ago now, I caught a lobster at Pine Point with my dad when we each had five recreational lobster traps on our boat, the Mary Agnes. This lobster had a third claw that looked like he was giving a thumbs up! Fast-forward six years — that lobster became the main character in my recently published book.

I began my professional career as an elementary school teacher and met many wonderful children, who were all different in their own unique ways. I don’t really know if that intrinsically inspired me or not because one day after work I sat down and wrote, Thumbs Up For All! in one sitting, completely randomly. I just kept writing and the story just flowed out as if I had been keeping it inside for years. I had no reason for doing it, it was just fun! I didn’t have any plans for it either, it just happened!

BN. How did you decide to base the book on the theme of diversity? Was there some experience in your past or event that led in you this direction?

Emily: I have worked with children my whole life. I went from babysitting to being a camp counselor and from teaching third grade to teaching nutrition in local schools. I meet many different kids from all walks of life. There wasn’t one signifying moment that led me to writing my book. I think it was just something that was meant to happen!

BN. Where did the story line and character come from?

Emily: The storyline for my book was developed as I was writing it. As I wrote, it just seemed to outline itself on the paper. Everything just seemed to fit together for me. For my future books, I will now follow the same storyline and use the same elements I tucked into Thumbs Up For All! I found myself adding in many personal elements into my story. My lobster buoy, the colors of the Irish flag, is depicted on every text page. My grandmother’s name is illustrated on the back of the boat. The letter at the end of my story is addressed to below the docks in Pine Point, Maine. Plus, I dedicated the story to my dad. Each book in the future will contain personal elements just as this one does. In addition, each new book I publish will somehow include characters from old ones. I’ll keep the rest a secret for now!

BN. What were the biggest challenges in writing the book?

Emily: One of the biggest challenges was believing in the book and deciding to go for it. As I said, I wrote it almost six years ago. I did not decide to publish it until 2016. Publishing is not an easy or inexpensive task! I needed to purchase 1,000 books right from the start. It was a long road, but I have learned so much. I had to do lots of research, had some setbacks, but never gave up. I just kept telling myself there are really only two things that can happen. People will love it; I will inspire others; and I’ll sell out. Or, I’ll always be proud of myself for taking a leap and publishing a book plus I’ll have a lifetime supply of children’s birthday gifts to give! I am happy to say that people are loving the book, and I will need a second edition very soon!

BN. How did you decide to have Travis Nelson handle the illustrations?

Emily: When I was teaching, I worked at Sandy’s Flight Deck, a restaurant that used to be open on the Causeway in Naples. Travis also worked there as a chef during the summer. I had been looking for an illustrator for a while and one day just asked over the food warmer while I was waiting for an order! He had never illustrated a book before and was extremely excited at the opportunity! We started working together and here we are!

BN. What do you like most about the book?

Emily: I like that I was able to weave in many personal touches and that the story is based on a real live creature that has a physical difference. I feel like it is more relatable to kids when it is real and they can relate it to their own lives. I have read at many schools already and I always ask kids what the story means to them. I get a huge realm of wonderful responses. Some say it reminds them of themselves because they are different in specific ways. They always share out loud too. I feel like they gain confidence from the book and want to talk about what makes them unique. I think it gives kids a chance to love everything about themselves, even if some things are challenging. Many people are buying my book for someone in their lives who has something about them that makes them unique. I feel like I am lifting spirits and giving kids and adults a new look at what may be a challenge for them.

BN. What has been the response so far? It appeared you were quite busy on Sunday.

Emily: The book was released in May 2016. I bought 1,000 copies. I have about 200 left. I have my book in about 30 retail locations from Bar Harbor to Ogunquit. Locally, the book is at The Goodlife Market and Essentials in Raymond, The Umbrella Factory, Lemy’s on the Lake, and Homespun gifts in Naples, the Corn Shop in Bridgton, and more! Along the coast you will find my book in Bar Harbor, Bath, Brunswick, Boothbay, Rockland, Camden, Damariscotta, Freeport, Portland, Scarborough, Old Orchard, Ocean Park, Ogunquit and soon to be more!

BN. You mentioned that the book was being turned into a play. How did it happen, your initial response?

Emily: As a nutrition educator, I go into local schools and teach classes. I was at Oak Hill Middle School in Sabattus and was showing my book off one of the first days I had it. I was approached by a woman named Lucy, who asked if I was interested! I was very interested! I soon found out that my book would be scripted and turned into a play along with some very well-known Maine children’s book authors including Chris Van Dusen and Lynn Plourde! This event is Sept. 10 in Gardiner. You can get tickets at johnsonhall.org. Come meet some great authors and get your signed copies!

BN. What is next for the book series and yourself?

Emily: Travis will be illustrating my next book (due out next summer), Annette Full of Friends, a book about a net that was left behind one day as my dad and I went out fishing. The story unfolds from there! It will have many of the same elements as Thumbs Up For All!, including a letter at the end (which will appear in every book). After that, I will work on publishing the third book I have written, The Backwoods Bullfrog. I am torn on this one as it is not ocean-themed, but instead set in Buckfield!

BN. There are always very important people behind the scenes. Who do you thank and why?

Emily: I would like to thank my dad for giving me the opportunity to have recreational lobster traps and enjoy time on the ocean with him. If we weren’t out there body surfing, we were boating! If we hadn’t been boating, I may not have a published book! I’d also thank my mom for helping me throughout the process. She brings books to retail locations for me, accompanies me on trips to sell them, and promotes the book wherever she goes! Lastly, I thank Justin, my fiancé for believing this could be a reality. In the midst of buying a house, building a garage, getting married and planning a cross-country honeymoon, he supported my decision to try to make this dream a reality!

Book info: Please like Emily Coye Books on Facebook.

Visit emilycoye.com to order personalized copies. “Just write what you want written in the ‘special notes’ section! All books are autographed! These make great gifts for birthdays and baby showers!” Emily added.

See Emily at Johnson Hall in Gardiner on Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. Visit johnsonhall.org and check out Open Book Players on Facebook for more information!

E-mail: info@emilycoye.com

Website: www.emilycoye.com

Please follow and like us: