Interview Series: Zac Brown Band’s Coy Bowles Talks About His Newest Children's Book

If your child's a big Amy Giggles or Will Powers fan, here's the inside scoop on Bowles' newest book, When You're Feeling Sick.

Coy Bowles posing with his third children's book, When You're Feeling Sick. Image, courtesy of Random House Publishing

There’s a long list of rockers who, after becoming parents, turned to penning children’s books -- from David Bowie, Madonna, and Paul McCartney, to Courtney Love and the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy.

But, in the case of Coy Bowles -- the multi-instrumentalist road dog in Zac Brown Band -- his side gig as a children’s book author started well before he became a dad. Bowles debuted his writing career in 2012 with his first story, Amy Giggles, about a girl with a singular and infectious laugh. Last April, he followed that up with Will Powers, which is about the power of perseverance. This month, Bowles -- who welcomed his first child, a baby girl, in October 2016 -- will release his third book, When You’re Feeling Sick, on Doubleday Books.

In a way, it’s the publishing equivalent of a major-label debut. Of course, he’s no stranger to success: With Zac Brown Band, he’s been crisscossing the country since 2008, spending summers on the road playing headlining gigs and festival dates. They’ll be back out again beginning this May, on a tour supporting their forthcoming album Welcome Home.

To commemorate the launch of When You’re Feeling Sick, we sat down with the ever-talented musician and author to get his thoughts on what it’s like to write for those who are knee-high.

Where’d the idea for When You’re Feeling Sick originate?

"I wrote it while sitting in a hospital. It comes from a very real place. My mother was in the hospital for about a month. It was a long, scary time. I used writing this book as a way to keep me positive."

Are there any similarities between writing songs and short stories? 

"Yeah, I would say so. Understanding rhyme structure -- and things of that nature that are the center of writing songs -- come in very handy when writing stories."

How much input did you have on the illustration style?

"I purposely didn’t talk to the illustrator, Andy Elkerton, before or while working on the book. I wanted him to be free to do his thing without me influencing him. It really worked, in my opinion. He would send images and I’d give notes and comments."

Cover illustration for the book. Image, courtesy of Random House Publishing

Any thoughts on eventually writing pieces for grown-ups?

"I think, on the whole, writing for kids is the first step to ultimately writing longer and deeper stories [for adults]."

What’s harder: entertaining adults or entertaining kids? 

"Truth be told, I’d kind of much rather hang out with the kids at events! I’m not much for small talk and with kids, it’s always fun."

Aaaaaand on the off-chance I can break any music news, what’s new with the band this year? 

"I have a new record coming out with my band, Coy Bowles and The Fellowship, called 'Tiger Pride.' And the Zac Brown Band has a new record coming out very soon. Gonna be a good year for music."

Members of the Zac Brown Band doing their best "monster" faces for the book. Image, courtesy of Random House Publishing

Needless to say, we're pretty excited to see what Coy and Z.B.B. come out with next.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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