Meet The Author
Illustrated as “Pops” in the book, “Good Boy, Blue!” Michael Kaltenmark plays the role of “Pops” to the Butler University live mascot program in real life as well. His experiences as caretaker of Butler Blue II inspired the book and it is likely that his care for Butler Blue III (Trip) will yield more prose in the future as he shares in his responses below.
Butler Blue: What made you want to do a children’s book?
Michael Kaltenmark: My vision for the Butler Blue live mascot program has always been to connect it to the core purpose of the University: education. All the while, I’m always looking for ways to utilize our mascot program in a way that connects the larger community to Butler. Publishing a children’s book seemed like a strategy that could tackle those goals head-on, so I went for it. Not to mention, the character of these dogs really lend themselves to children’s literature and related illustrations. It’s a perfect fit.
Beyond that, though, I always thought it would be neat to be a published author of a children’s book. After all, there are so many books that I read or had read to me as a youngster which left a lasting impact on my life. I owe the practice of reading a great deal as I believe it’s helped me become a better writer and speaker, both skills that have served me well in life. I cannot wait to offer the same benefit with my own children and so many others with a book that I created.
BB: What can you share about the “Good Boy, Blue!” storyline?
MK: The story, while fictional, is not all that far fetched as it is derived largely from experiences I had with Blue II. It is a story about Blue as a pup, trying to find his way and make sense right versus wrong in his life. It’s the process of maturation we all must go through and by using Blue as the main subject, it provides a fun, inviting, and warm example for young people to follow.
My intention with the story was to convey the principles and overall sentiment of “The Butler Way,” without ever stating that in the book. As a result, I think the book may serve as a timeless story that offers a positive lesson and embedded connection to Butler University.
BB: How did you come to write “Good Boy, Blue!”?
MK: After getting Blue II as a puppy in 2004, I was inspired by his character. He was full of personality, as I’ve come to find most bulldogs to be, and I wanted to share that with as many people as I could. Obviously, Blue’s presence on campus had a significant impact, but with the advent of social media, I really found an outlet to channel Blue’s personality and share that on his behalf. However, beyond blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and other electronic outlets, I had a children’s book in the back of mind.
The title that inspired the story actually came from one of the first friends I made as an undergraduate at Butler. Nick Musial ’02 suggested “Good Boy, Blue!” to me and I ran with it. When I actually did sit down to write the story, I remember it coming together remarkably fast. Then I shared it with another fellow Butler grad, Eric Furman ’01, who has experience copy editing, especially related to children’s literature. He helped me tighten up the manuscript and gave me his vote of confidence and at that point, I knew I had something worth publishing.
That’s when I shared the manuscript with members of the Butler administration and sought the assistance of Mascot Books for publishing.
BB: Who are your biggest influences?
MK: With regard to the book, Paul Brown and his books, Chowder and The Fabulous Bouncing Chowder really served as mentor texts for me. It doesn’t hurt that that the main character in those books is also a bulldog, but I also liked his style as an author and an illustrator.
Personally, I am influenced greatly by the people (family and friends) that I choose to surround myself with. I suppose that list should include these mascots who have influenced me greatly as well. Each of these people and bulldogs have influenced my life in some shape or form, making me who I am today. They all probably deserve a little piece of credit for the creation of this book too. Topping the list, I would list my parents and my wife would top the list of influencers.
BB: What do you look forward to doing in the future?
MK: Professionally, I hope to remain in higher education and not only on the administrative side. I am currently pursuing my master’s in education so that I might be able to teach on the side as well. I would enjoy instructing in the College of Communication and sharing some of the things I’ve learned along the way with regard to public relations, marketing, and social media. Outside of the classroom, I would like to continue to grow Butler’s live mascot program, advance our social media efforts, and continue to find ways to position the University as a unique player in higher education.
For the book I hope we sell a lot of copies, obviously, but beyond that I would love to connect it to a larger literacy program that would allow us to take Butler Blue into area schools and talk about the book, literacy, Butler University, etc. I’d also like to write more books! Blue III’s presence has certainly inspired more stories so we’ll find out if there is a market demand for more and see if Jingo is interested in illustrating more books with us.
Personally, I just hope to keep sneaking triathlons and concert-going in amidst the demands and fun of parenting.