I am very pleased today to share the following Catholic Book Spotlight interview with Paul Nowak, the author of The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut, a great book for young readers and their favorite grownups!
Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.
My name is Paul Nowak, and I live in Greenville, Michigan with my wife, Jenny, and our 5 children, aged 1-8.
For those who have not yet had the opportunity to read The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut, please describe the book.
The The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut is a collection of stories, told from the point of view of Jack, a young man recalling his life growing up with his Uncle Chestnut. The character of Uncle Chestnut is based entirely on G.K. Chesterton, although the stories take place in modern America.
What prompted you to write about the life of G.K. Chesterton, and specifically to do so in a way which would be so accessible to young readers?
I realized that while Chesterton loved children greatly, and continually praised childhood in his writing, little of his works for children have been published. Also, some of the most simple lessons from his writings, such as the importance of seeing everyday challenges and hardships as adventures, could be understood by children if they were only presented to them at an early age.
I have been reading a lot of Chesterton’s works, in particular his essays for the Illustrated London News, as well as a few biographies, such as Joseph Pearce’s Wisdom and Innocence. Pearce dedicated an entire chapter to Chesterton’s relationship with children in his life, some of which called him Uncle Chestnut.
What do you hope readers will take away from their experience of getting to know G.K. Chesterton more intimately?
I hope that readers young and old will be intrigued to find out more about G.K. Chesterton after reading about Uncle Chestnut, since so many of the eccentricities and quips are actual events, quotes, or scenarios Chesterton wrote about or experienced.
What have you heard so far from families who have enjoyed this book?
I have had several readers compare Uncle Chestnut to characters in classic literature, such as Alice in Wonderland, Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh. I find it interesting as the absent-minded episodes of Chesterton’s life mixed with his paradoxial wisdom struck me as resembling certain characters from children’s literature.
Tell us about the website UncleChestnut.com and what readers will find there.
One of the most popular features is our daily G.K. Chesterton Quote, which goes out via email and Twitter (almost) every day. Also, in addition to ordering autographed copies of the book, you can find some of our G.K. Chesterton quote apparel on the site.
I understand you speak to schools and parishes. What types of information do your present in these talks and how can folks contact you for booking information?
For children as well as adults, I introduce G.K. Chesterton as Uncle Chestnut, retelling some of the funny stories or insights that Jack tells of in the book, such as the story of Uncle Chestnut’s runaway hat (based on an essay and actual events in Chesterton’s life) and Uncle Chestnut’s odd traveling habits, such as catching a train by always missing the previous one.
Are there any additional comments you’d like to share with our readers?
I am planning to have several more Uncle Chestnut books out in the near future, although life as been a series of inconvenient adventures for our family the past few months.
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