Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers, and welcome to another installment of our interview series! For this interview, we were delighted to speak with the Mom’s Choice Award-winning author, Christina Myers. Christina Myers wrote The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake, a timely tale about a preconceived notion being challenged and overcome before it’s too late. The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake inspires selective eaters and young readers to try new recipes and promotes conversation about the food they did not enjoy in childhood and what happens when they finally try the foods for themselves. Keep reading to find out more about Christina Myers and how she came to write The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake!
MCA: Hi Christina! First I like to say bravo on your book and winning a Mom’s Choice Award! As a reformed picky eater, I wish I would’ve had this book to read growing up. I also know a lot of parents who struggle with picky eaters and I think it’s safe to say, this is a book everyone can relate to in some way. To start this interview, I’d like you to tell us a little bit about yourself!
Christina: Hi! Well, I live in Atlanta with my husband and two sons, but I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. I am a children’s book author, lifestyle blogger, screenwriter, and speaker with a background in voice-over work and acting.
In 2013, I went through a life-altering experience, undergoing the controversial Sugarbaker Procedure, named after Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, that included a hot chemo wash at Emory University Hospital. Being an appendiceal cancer survivor has gifted me with a clearer outlook on life. My blog humbleandbold.com was started in 2015 as a way to share God stories, testimonies, the good news, encouraging words, and my creative interests such as: decorating, DIY projects, lessons learned, heart makeovers, room makeovers, and now . . . writing children’s books. Before blogging, I worked as a craft teacher and supervisor at Perimeter Church, while my sons were in childcare there. It was in the art classroom that I met the super talented Katherine Carver, a teenager at the time, who illustrated the amazing pictures for The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake after I shared the story with her.
MCA: Your story is very inspiring! Was it the life-altering experience that led you on your road to becoming a writer?
Christina: It has been a long, rocky road for sure, but growing up with such fond memories of my mother reading stories to me at night was the initial spark that ignited my passion at a young age. Later, in elementary school, I worked on a project where we wrote and illustrated our own children’s picture book, and through that experience, realized that I wanted to write something that children and parents around the world could connect with and enjoy. Still have that school project with me today as a reminder of a childhood dream that has finally become a reality.
In my early twenties, I wrote my first professional manuscript to help children cope with death and found the road to publishing to be extremely challenging. When I attended my first SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in October of 2001, right after 9/11, I learned that it took an average of seven years to get your first book published. It took me nineteen years from that conference date to finally be published and even longer if you include my desire since childhood. Jane Kurtz, guest author, and speaker at that event, greatly encouraged me while sharing her struggles. Still have her signed book from that conference, River Friendly, River Wild, about a girl and her family facing the challenges of a flood and the aftermath. She wrote, “For Christina — May you hold on to hope in the hard times.” There have been a lot of hard times since, but some of the greatest victories often come out of adversity, and hope continues to inspire me.
MCA: I couldn’t agree more, adversity is the fuel of greatness. The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake is such a unique story that addresses topics that are so pertinent for children to understand. What was the inspiration behind such a unique story?
Christina: When I first heard my father-in-law share a story from his childhood, during WWII, about a little boy (referring to himself) who wouldn’t eat cheesecake, I immediately laughed out loud and could relate to his mindset as a child. I never tried cheesecake in my childhood, because I could not wrap my mind around the idea of how cheese could ever taste good in cake. I was almost an adult before I finally tried it and realized what I had been missing. He graciously gave me permission to tell his story and to add a comical twist at the end.
MCA: What an interesting backstory. I too felt the same way about cheesecake when I was younger so I very much relate to this story! What are some of the key lessons found in The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake?
Christina: It encourages picky eaters to try new foods, but also to have preconceived notions challenged and overcome before it’s too late. It also shows how family stories travel through time to future generations and the importance of a father’s and grandfather’s influence in a child’s life. If looking at how long it took me to publish my first book, I hope future authors will be encouraged not to give up on their dreams.
MCA: What has the reader’s response been like to The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake?
Christina: We have received such a warm reception from readers. Everything from letters, texts, social media comments, reviews, and emails. One of my favorite responses is pictures that parents have sent me of their children holding or reading The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake! During a storytime reading at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Georgia, I heard adults giggling at just the right moments, and that made my day.
MCA: 2020 has been a crazy year for everyone, especially those in publishing. What has it been like publishing during a global pandemic?
Christina: It feels historic, for sure. While looking at pictures of my first book signing, I noticed smiling, encouraging eyes peering over masked covered smiles, and it makes me realize, this is history in the making. Publishing, in a normal setting, is quite challenging and difficult. It feels like climbing Mount Everest with no turning back. When you add a global pandemic into the equation and how it affects your home life, it can seem overwhelming. My husband lost his job in March, and my oldest son lost out on the traditional experiences of his senior year and first year of college.
However, we have seen a lot of blessings come out of this situation and agreed as a family to pray for a mindset of feeling overjoyed, instead of overwhelmed. Once we made that declaration, our mindset became more focused. Not that we don’t face a heap of daily challenges, it’s just that we made up our minds to stop wasting time lingering on discouraging thoughts. The more we get done, the better we feel. Also, spending so much time working on this project takes my mind off the worries of the day. And yes, while it seems unwise to publish and launch a book during a global pandemic, it also grows you spiritually, pushes you to get creative, and connects you with others who are also pressing on. There has been this sweet atmosphere of people coming together to help each other out during these difficult times, and I will forever be grateful for that.
MCA: If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Christina: I included an interesting verse at the end—Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good.”—Psalm 34:8 (ESV). Hoping readers look at the verse at the end and let it marinate. When I first saw that verse, I thought it strange. Why use the word taste, when referring to the Lord? But then it started to make sense. For example, many people see God or others who are different from them as okay, but there is no real connection, interaction, or personal relationship. We formulate opinions all the time about people, places, and things, and some of those opinions are formed without any real exposure or understanding. To me, the word taste describes one’s ability to let down their guard, humble themselves, and personally engage themselves to grow, mature, and be fulfilled. I hope readers walk away challenged to draw near to God and to each other.
MCA: That is a wonderful lesson to leave us with. Thank you for a lovely interview, Christina!
You can learn more about Christina Myers and her award-winning book, The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake by visiting her MCA Shop pages.