Interview with Salvatore “Sal” Barbera,
Author of Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow
By Cheryl C. Malandrinos | Monday, September 30, 2013
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Two of my favorite things to do are draw and make people laugh. Without any formal training as a writer or illustrator I’ve had no rules to follow. That works out great for me. I have fun doing what I do and I think that translates to my books.
What made you first decide to become a writer?
I never thought to myself: “I will be a writer!” For fifteen years I created fun, wacky cartoons about my dog, Max. Everyone who saw the cartoons got a chuckle out of them. Max passed away in 2011, but he lives on in my work as my character Sweetles™, which was one of the numerous names we called him. So to get back to your question, I became a writer when I wrote my first story about Max.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
My latest book is Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow. It’s the first book in the series: A Sweetles Dream®. The premise is: “Have you ever wondered what your pet dreams about?”
Sweetles™, a gregarious little dog, dreams about social or personal situations. In his dreams, he figures out how to solve tricky situations. In this story, he dreams of a spotless cow arriving at a new farm. While she hopes to find friendship and acceptance, instead she encounters discrimination for being different (spotless) from the other cows. The story takes us on the journey she goes through to overcome the other cows’ prejudice. Her inventive way to do this is the kicker in this fairy tale.
What inspired you to write it?
My mother in law, who has a great sense of humor and is a dear friend, was diagnosed with cancer a few years back. She had a pretty rough time with radiation and chemotherapy. She really needed to laugh. So she inspired me to write this story. As I started writing it, an idea came to me about cows. And then about my dog Max, aka Sweetles™, dreaming about cows. And then a crazy thing happened, it had a beginning, a middle and an end. I had to write it down and draw the characters as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t forget any of the story that was racing through my brain. So I wrote without stopping, for 5 hours. That’s how Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow was born.
What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?
How unnecessary prejudice is and how hurtful it can be. And that you can overcome it with intelligence and humor.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
If you could meet any writer (living or dead) who would it be?
Charles Shultz and Mel Blanc for sure. My two idols.
What is one fact about yourself you wish to share with our readers?
I’ve always wanted to be a standup comedian. I’ve been writing my half hour act for 3 years! At this point, I have enough material for a hundred half hour acts.
I’ve written my second book: Ernie The Dysfunctional Frog about adoption, true friendship, acceptance and love. And I’ve got a comic book about Sweetles™ in the works along with a web series that he’s starring in with his other fairy tale characters.
Is there anything you would like to add?
When you enjoy what you do it doesn’t seem like work. I have a great support system from my readers, family and friends and especially my wonderful wife. I’m very lucky.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my book!
This interview was re-posted by Seattle PI