Today is World Wildlife Day, and I’d like to take the opportunity to welcome author and award-winning illustrator Nathaniel Gold to the Reading Room. His fascinating work with chimpanzees, combined with an amazing artistic ability, turned his passion for wildlife into a highly unique and entertaining middle grade series.
Q. Hi Nathaniel! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
A. I never started out to be a writer. In fact, by trade, I am an illustrator. It was in graduate school that I came to the realization that to illustrate the stories I wanted to, I needed to write them first. It took me ten years after school to finally publish The Diary of Henry Chimpman, the story that started as my thesis. Between then and now I’ve spent a lot of that time researching, which lead me to my passion for charity work with chimpanzees in sanctuary. It also led me to publish an art book of my sketches called The Chimpanzee Manifesto, which won an Independent publishing award in 2010.
Q. Tell us something about your greatest success.
A. My greatest success, or at least the one I am most proud of, actually did not come as a writer but as an artist. In 2012 I started a very close relationship with Save The Chimps, a sanctuary located in Florida that is home to over 300 chimpanzees that were rescued from laboratories, the entertainment industry, and the pet trade. At that point I had spent a lot of time drawing chimps, but this relationship gave me the opportunity to paint with them.
What I mean is that many of these chimps paint as a form of therapy to help them cope with PTSD. I proposed that they send me the art and I began to paint on top of them, creating collaborative art between chimp and human. In 2013 we had a gallery show in Florida and we raised a lot of money and awareness for chimps in sanctuary. It was then that I knew that my work, both painting and writing, was about giving chimpanzees a voice. Here is a link to an article that I wrote in Scientific American discussing my experience. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/guest-post-nathaniel-gold/
That relationship continues, and twice a year the gallery sells collaborative work from myself and the chimps in auction. You can also buy prints at their website www.savethechimps.org
The Diary of Henry Chimpman, Book 1 – From the Forest to the Zoo
Henry Chimpman was supposed to be the first chimpanzee in space.
Before the world knew his name, Henry and his family were immigrants to America. Growing up was not easy for this young chimp, but he learned to adapt. Between his love of baseball, music and his family, he learns what it takes to be the best he can be. Unfortunately, life is not always kind to Henry, and he soon discovers that growing up can mean learning the truth and that the truth is not always friendly. Now Henry is on a mission to expose his experience in the space program. Will running for Mayor in the APE Party help his cause, or will it simply turn him into a fugitive?
Q. What has been your biggest challenge?
A. It’s definitely been dividing my time between the art and the business. As an independent publisher/author and illustrator, I have to do it all, and finding the time to do all of that while also being a dad, a husband and a teacher, is hard. As an introvert, all I want to do is sit in my studio and write and paint; but to be successful, I need to network, use social media and sell, sell, sell. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love hearing from the people that enjoyed my books. It’s just that juggling it all is quite a challenge.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. Good question. Well…. I just finally published The Diary of Henry Chimpman Volumes 1 through 4 (the Complete Saga) and now I am turning my attention to exploring some of the other characters, or members of the Chimpman family, as I like to call them, in stand- alone novels. I will also be putting out a series of poetry books for kids in the fall, including one that is based on my experiences as an intergalactic anthropologist where I discovered dozens of alien species. So keep a look out for that as well.
Q. Where can people keep up with you and buy your books?
A. Thank you so much for asking. So right now all of the Henry Chimpman books are available here on Amazon.
And you can get in touch with me on social Media:
My website: www.jessianpress.com
And I would suggest joining the Chimpman family by signing up for my mailing list. There, you will get 3 free ebooks and an ongoing film series profiling the characters of the Chimpman Family as well as updates from time to time. You can do so at my web site www.jessianpress.com or by clicking here.
I will be holding a contest in the month of March in which entrants can win some of my original artwork. Please check my Facebook page for details!