Coy Bowles Pens Second Children’s Book ‘Will Powers: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way’
Coy Bowles from Zac Brown Band is not only a talented musician, he's also a children's book author. He's got one book (Amy Giggles: Laugh Out Loud) under his belt and has just released his second, titled Will Powers: Where There's a Will, There's a Way.
For Bowles, writing a children's book was never a dream of his. Rather, his career as an author began because he wasn't able to write songs on the road, since he was surrounded by people all the time; instead, he recalls to The Boot, "I got into writing short stories and blogs while on the road. That turned into writing the first book." The artist makes a conscious effort to not have music as his "only thing," pointing to a jack-of-all-trades friend of his who passed away but has been an inspiration.
Bowles' books are meant to be empowering for the kids who read them. His first project, Amy Giggles, is all about self-confidence, reassurance and celebrating our unique differences. After its success, Bowles decided that he wanted to be part of something that "was really pertinent to what was going on with teachers and parents." So, he interviewed teachers and principals to discover the top issues that kids are facing today, and the two key ideas he came away with were work ethic and self-entitlement.
Will Powers: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way is, therefore, a tale about a boy named Will Powers who overcomes his ideas of self-entitlement and achieves his goals through dedication and a strong work ethic.
"My goal with these books is to help teachers and parents have a vehicle to remind them of character traits like honesty, confidence and work ethic," Bowles says. "I think those traits, which are what my parents taught me, got me to where I am now."
Illustrations of the book's main character are based off of ZBB bandmate Jimmy De Martini's son James: Bowles asked De Martini's wife, a photographer, to send him pictures of James playing, and from there, "I had the illustrator, Brian de Tagyos, copy how they look when they're running or kicking a ball," he explains. (His other bandmates' children served as influences for the illustrations in Amy Giggles.)
To help promote Will Powers, Bowles teamed up with First Lady of Georgia Sandra Deal and her Read Across Georgia campaign, which focuses on literacy in the state. The two sent copies of the book to all of the other states' first ladies, and Deal also visited classrooms across the state for reading sessions, with Bowles joining at a few.
"It was a blast working with her," Bowles says. However, while Deal visits hundreds of classrooms a year, Bowles was not as familiar, and he admits that it was a nerve-wracking experience.
"I can play in front of 30,000 people at Fenway and not be nervous at all. But I get really nervous in front of kids," he admits, adding that thoughts such as "What if they haven't been around someone with a beard?" or "What if they don't like me?" ran through his head. But once he introduced himself and began reading, he realized "... they're just kids; they're not going to eat me or anything."
Not only is Bowles giving teachers a great tool for conversation with students, he's also paying the proceeds of the book forward, with a portion of sales donated to Camp Southern Ground and to Sunshine on a Ranney Day (SOARD), a non-profit in Atlanta, Ga., that creates dream room and home makeovers for children with long-term illnesses.
Bowles will be doing Will Powers book signings locally, and he'll also sign books after ZBB shows this summer, along with a few other bandmates who are promoting separate projects; more information is available on his Facebook page. Though it seems like a lot of work to balance a huge country music career and a children's book side project, Bowles says, "This is just my way of being grateful."
"You're part of the problem or the solution. Solution means, in my opinion, to be taking extra time and energy in trying to give back to the world," reflects Bowles, noting that as Zac Brown Band became more successful, he realized that he was blessed to have unique opportunities to tour around the world and play music to fans every night. "Ultimately, this is my way of being thankful and grateful for all the success."