Barry Cavanaugh has a history of record-setting basketball playing and coaching on all levels. He graduated from the State University at Albany and continued on to play professionally in Sweden, later coaching at his alma mater and at SUNY Morrisville. He appears in the Halls of Fame of the University of Albany, the Albany Capital District, and Rensselaer, NY.
His career consists of influencing at-risk youth through his coaching, mentoring, leadership positions, and one-on-one case management.
This is Barry’s first book, and it was inspired through a conversation while on a family trip. He is excited to share this story with children everywhere. He hopes it will be used by parents, caregivers, teachers and mentors to help children grow with the knowledge and understanding of each characteristic the Tree Trolls represent in his book.
He currently lives in Whitesboro, NY with his wife and two children.
First let me start by congratulating you on publishing your first children’s book! What does it feel like to be a published author?
It was truly amazing when I held the book for the first time. I remember when the printer sent the proofs of the pages back for us to review. The publisher said, "It really won't hit you until you are actually holding the book"! The publisher was right! 13 years ago I wrote the story. Five years ago, with a push from my wife it really started to become a possibility, and 17 months ago it was completed!
Tell us a bit about your new book “Tree Trolls and Their Secret Gifts” and the inspiration behind it?
The inspiration came from a conversation my wife and two kids while driving back from "Build A Bear" in Syracuse, NY. My daughter, Shaye mentioned trolls and I said what if they lived in trees and we call them "Tree Trolls.” Soon after, I started writing the book and created 12 Tree Trolls each with a secret gift they can bring to children. I came up with the following life skills/life values: Anger, Love, Compassion, Cooperation, Comfort, Friendship, Happiness, Justice, Liberty, Nature, Sport and Wisdom. 8 years later I sent the story to a publisher for his review.
What type of feedback have you received from both children and adults who have read your book?
After 4 months of waiting, the first feedback came from the publisher. I reached out to the publisher and he apologized but he was caring for his wife who was battling cancer. The cancer was in regression and the publisher promised to take a look at the book. In the meantime, I went to a friend, who drew landscaping artwork and asked him to draw my vision of the trolls. Shortly afterwards, the publisher called and said, "We needed to talk! It's a great book!". Once the book was published it received excellent reviews from teachers, parents. caregivers and of course children. I have been to elementary schools to tell the story of my "Tree Trolls and Their Secret Gifts.” To enhance the storytelling experience I made Tree Troll vests (which represents their gifts) to match the Trolls vests in the book so children and parents can become more engaged with the storytelling. I also have adult vests for the teachers to wear when I go to their school for a reading. In addition, I now have t-shirts so the children can color their favorite Trolls and also a t-shirt with all the trolls on it.
Tell us about your decision to collaborate with children’s book illustrator Fred Wiginton. How did you know when you found the right illustrator for your project?
When Fred brought me the first two drawings of Tree Trolls “Love” and “Anger” I thought they were perfect! Once the publisher saw the 2 drawings he said, "Let Fred continue drawing the rest, these two are great!” Fred did an outstanding job capturing my vision of the trolls and then creating 12 lovable and diverse trolls. The Tree Trolls Fred drew were perfect for my book! A special characteristic feature the Trolls have is that they have two bellybuttons!
What do your children think of “Daddy the Author”?
The book was started when my children were still in middle school, so in some way, I am glad it took a while to get completed. Shaye and Emmett are featured in the book and now that they’re both in college, they are both old enough to appreciate the published book even more.
What message do you hope young readers will take away from your book?
The message I would like children to away is the importance of each gift. If they truly discuss with their caregivers and teachers each gift and then apply it to their everyday lives I truly believe the world will have a better future. It would help if caregivers utilize the gifts of the Tree Trolls also. Early childhood development, life skills, ant-bullying and diversity acceptance is all in the book. It is important for caregivers and teachers to have discussions about the value of each gift the Tree Trolls have to offer.
Do you plan to publish any more children’s books?
My future plans are to write six more books featuring two Tree Trolls and their gifts. The books will give the definition of their gift and tell a short story regarding the gift.
Any advice for writers and aspiring children’s authors?
My advice is; Don't be afraid, don't be embarrassed, don't rush it, make sure it is what you want and don't procrastinate. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your story. I am 6'7, 300 pounds, 61 years old, a former basketball player and I wrote a book about Tree Trolls! I am sure some friends are still shaking their head but I accomplished one of my goals.
Where can readers and fans connect with you or purchase your book?
Readers can find me on my FB Tree Troll page, go to my web site: treetrollssecretgifts.com and/or call me at 315-941-2420.