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Hi Michael. Congratulations on the release of your first published children’s book, COWBOY MONKEY TALKS FLUFF, you must be relieved to have it finally out amongst the world for all to share and laugh along with. Tell us about your book.

Thank you, it is an amazing feeling having a publisher for my story, it is definitely on the list as a memorable moment in my life. My book is a fun, simple story, designed to bring joy and laughter to parents and children who read it. It’s been a tough 2020, so this book helps us remember what it feels like to laugh and connect with others. We follow Cowboy Monkey as he explains what a FLUFF is to his children, when it is OK and not OK to FLUFF. The theme was inspired by my sons blue and green plush Monkey toy. I tell bedtime stories with my children and use Monkey as a protagonist, as I make it all up as I go along. I have plenty more material for many more books, so watch this space.

Your day job is certainly contradictory to that of a writer. Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you felt the need to unleash the creativity within.

I was born and bred in Port Macquarie in the 70’s, during my childhood Port was a small holiday destination and most people left town to pursue their careers or travel. I had the opportunity to take on my parents (Frank and Erika Rohr) jewellery business, which at the time was one of the longest established businesses in Port Macquarie. However, I was interested in doing something a little different and knew I needed to challenge myself and forge my own career. I joined the army as an infantry soldier after finishing year 12 at Mackillop, which challenged every physical and emotional aspect of my being. It was very rewarding and helped me gain independence as a man. My nursing career has been varied, training in Newcastle and travelling within NSW, interstate and overseas to work in various hospitals and settings. It is a bit of a cliché, however, I very much enjoy helping people and assisting them when they are at their most vulnerable. I am now a nurse manager and enjoy the opportunity to make innovation and change within the system and support my staff.

Meeting my beautiful wife Caroline, who is also a nurse, and having two amazing children Zsofia and James, has given me purpose to be the best person I can possibly be. I recall the first time I saw Zsofia when she was born, it was like a light switch turned on and I was dad, I have not looked back. My wife would probably tell you she has three children in the house, which in many ways has been beneficial for my journey to becoming a children’s author. I love spending time with the kids and bedtime stories often evolve into quests to other realms, and lots of laughter.

As a novice to all things writing and illustration, where did your journey begin and how have you managed to pull it all together and complete such an amazing project?

As stated previously, I have over 10 years of storytelling experience with my children, so, I literally woke up one morning, had the idea in my head, grabbed a coffee and typed the story down from start to finish in about 45 minutes. I tweaked it a bit over the next few months, then thought, this is not bad, the kids loved the story, so this might be good as a picture book with funny illustrations. I was fortunate to find a freelance illustrator online, Ritwij Sasmal, from India, who was extremely easy to work with and saw the vision of the project straight away. I gave him the picture concepts and he brought them to life, he told me the project was the most fun he had worked on. We started with black and white mock-ups and went to colour from there and very little changes required, I was blessed to find Ritwij. It came together quite easily, the path of least resistance can be quite fruitful.

You’ve certainly lived a colourful life. Going back to your earlier days, you were an infantry soldier in the Australian Army. Would you say both of these roles allowed inspiration to prosper from an inside look into the workings and noises of the human body?

FLUFFs (aka Farts) are definitely a topic of interest in both industries, I was able to hone my understanding after exposure to them under varied conditions very successfully. For some reason, they are a very innocent source of amusement and fun for both children and adults. They can actually be a great ice breaker and topic of conversation, but please remember everyone, they should be used for good, not evil!

What has the response been like from the local community and your family and friends?

The response has been wonderful, Bookface Port Macquarie has been very supportive with the local launch of the book, selling out in the first week. There has been lots of support and interest in social media as well as local media outlets.

My family are very proud of me and I think it is a great opportunity for the kids to see their dad have a book published successfully by a reputable publisher and see the book in a bookshop, I hope it gives them inspiration.

When I received the email from Emily Kelly sales and Marketing Manager and Children’s book reviewer at Boolarong Press, I was over the moon, she stated that she loved the story and having kids herself, saw its potential. They have done an amazing job getting the book to market.

If you would dream big, where to next for your writing career?

I already have a contract from a UK based publisher for a new classic Christmas story, A MONKEY CHRISTMAS, which I will not discuss too much for now, but be ready to see it released Christmas 2021. I was fortunate enough to have another short story called THE SWOOZLMONGER, published in a writing competition in the U.S in December this year, it was highly regarded by the judges and I look to make this into a children’s picture book in 2021. I am also working on another picture book meant for younger children called GREYHOUNDS ARE GREAT and hope to submit it to publishers by Feb 2021. So I guess the answer to your question is, I want to keep writing in my spare time, releasing books and you just never know, one day make it a full-time gig. I would love to hit the top 100 best children’s books one day, so lets see what happens!

If you love to laugh out loud with your kids you can buy a copy of Michael Rohr’s Cowboy Monkey Talks Fluff from all good bookstores and online.

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