Local author and former Taylor High School student Ricky Ross first began creating stories for his granddaughter several years ago but his love of reading and creativity goes back to his childhood …
Local author and former Taylor High School student Ricky Ross first began creating stories for his granddaughter several years ago but his love of reading and creativity goes back to his childhood when comic books and fantasy helped him face being bipolar, he said.
“Some of the things going on in my head, I would just write down in poetry and had a granddaughter and wrote her a story,” Ross said. “I just decided to write it all in rhymes.”
Ross says he is hopeful that his books, set in the world of Gingham Acres, which is inspired by downtown Katy, will help a new generation of young readers find their imaginations inspired with hope, happiness and a sense of community that he feels stems from his childhood in the Katy area.
“I just want them to enjoy the writing and the world that I developed,” Ross said.
The first book, “Mr. Moon Sleeps In” is slated for public release on Nov. 15 of this year and like all of the books Ross has drafted is set in the fall season. The 24-page story is written for children five to six years of age. The story begins with the moon taking a night off thinking nobody would miss him, but that thought is soon proven wrong as a wide variety of characters get confused that there is no moonlight to light up the night sky. After a discussion with Mrs. Sun, Mr. Moon realizes how valued his presence is. The story addresses, in a child-friendly manner, the concept that everyone has value, even when they may not think so.
Ross said he has three more books set for publication. “Stop Blowing Please” is expected to be released in the spring of 2022. That title will be followed by “Big Stuff Cowboys” – a book inspired by his father-in-law, Barry Smotherman whom he looks up to. “Mr. Ocean Asks a Favor” is set for the spring of 2023, Ross said, and a poetry book with more than 150 separate works will come at an unspecified time once he has finished the children’s books projects, he said.
Ross said he is especially excited about “Big Stuff Cowboys” because that book was the easiest to write and he connected with it easily.
“I wrote the book in 30 minutes,” Ross said. “… I just got an idea and I sat down on the computer and started throwing words up on the screen and before I knew it, I had a story.”
The star of the show in “Big Stuff Cowboys” is a bear named after his father-in-law, Ross said. One of his goals, as he continues to write the books, is to use talking animals that are indigenous to Texas to keep the series connected closely to his Katy roots.
Ross said he has been in the Katy area since 1980 and is “Katy proud” and plans to stay that way. One of his favorite locations in the area is the heart of Old Town Katy where he says everyone still remembers to take care of one another and the small-town sense of community still resonates among neighbors.
That sense of community is what helped him find the illustrator for his books, Jackie Miller, Ross said. Miller’s father attends the same church as Ross and the two paired up after Ross asked for some art samples to see what would work.
“We went to church together, and I’d seen his art before,” Ross said. “I thought it was quirky and I thought it was appealing.”
Afterward, the two worked together to design the book and then approached Book Baby Publishing to get the book to press. The book is currently self-published and Ross says the investment both he and Miller put into the first printing of the book has already been paid back. While a traditional publishing company is interested in the Gingham Acres series, the pair have decided to stick with Book Baby to maintain control and move forward with the good relationship they currently have with their publisher.
Ross said he appreciates the support of his wife Lanann Ross and children Ash Ross, Alec Ross, Katie Ross and Dalton Ross.
In the long run, Ross just wants to make sure his books help children enjoy their childhoods and remember childhood as a good time, part of why he’s dedicated the books to his grandchildren Lucy Ross, Lily Ross and Dylan Ross.