They say there is a book inside everyone. However, writing and publishing the book is another matter. John Burns, a former electrical engineer turned author, has transformed his dream into reality by penning a children’s book called The Many Adventures of Pengey Penguin.
“Pengey had been floating around my head for about a year before I sat down with my laptop,” John said about his tale of an orphaned emperor penguin from Antarctica. “It was the least difficult story I'd ever written because I fell in love with the character long before I actually wrote about him.
“Pengey's personality reflects the general personality of penguins. He's shy and unassuming, and hasn't got an aggressive bone in his little body. But Pengey, maybe like all penguins, is clever and smart, and creative in the ways he survives. What a great role model for children, I thought.”
John spent 25 years as a electrical engineer in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and California before finally retiring and turning to his real love – writing. At first, he wrote screenplays but none reached the big screen.
“I have always loved telling stories,” said John, who lists Raymond Chandler and Aldous Huxley among his favorite authors. “I am 40 per cent deaf in my left year and I tried to compensate for that by telling stories to get attention when I was young. I also brought up two girls as a single dad and I had to tell them stories each night.”
The idea for the book’s hero was born from a soft toy. John purchased the penguin from a gift card shop and "Pengey" became the household mascot.
“I spent a lot of midnight oil on this little children's novel,” he said. “I have been disappointed by a number of recent children's works. I wanted Pengey to raise the bar on children's literature and so his story had to have charm, character and miles and miles of heart.
“In developing the story, things just seemed to pop up in my mind like solutions for situations that had to be resolved so Pengey and his best friends, Lionel the parrot, and Rufus the puffin, could achieve their common goals.”
John decided to self-publish the book through his own company – San Francisco Story Works. A young artist called James Coles was hired to provide illustrations while John turned himself into a one-man marketing machine to promote the book – he created a Web site, walked the floors at book fairs and issued a press release.
His work paid off.
“About six weeks ago I answered my office phone, and had Michel Shane on the other end,” John explained. “Michel is the other half of the executive production team of Romano/Shane Productions. Tony Romano and Michel Shane gave us movies like Catch Me If You Can.
“Michel told me how he had bought The Many Adventures of Pengey Penguin for his nine-year-old and 11-year-old daughters. He said it was almost eerie, because bedtime was never easier than when his daughters were reading Pengey. They were both in love with Pengey.
“Michel's thinking was that he should trust his kids, so he read it himself and decided to option the film and television rights to the book. So I guess Pengey Penguin could become an animated feature film. The most recent update I have is a call I received from Tony Romano, who reported he was in negotiations with a major studio to get the movie made. All I could say was, ‘Wow!’”
About Pengey Penguin
Pengey doesn't start out a hero, he's simply trying to survive. When his mother and father must leave in search of food, Pengey is forced to rely on his courage, intelligence, and the lessons his parents taught him in order to survive in Antarctica. Ride along with Pengey as he progresses from Orphan to Hero to Legend. A bedtime story your child will treasure forever.