With six books and countless animations, productions, and illustrations on his resume, Raw Spoon is a multi-talented author and illustrator. His latest kids book, Squire and Daniel, was just released by HopSkip Books, an imprint of the Armory Publishing Group, and approaches loss with humor and heart. I decided to interview this author to dig a little deeper into his story.
When I asked him why he chose the name, Raw Spoon, he said,
“The name my parents gave me is Ross Boone. But sometime in high school a cute girl recognized that if you say my name fast it sounded like, RAWSPOON! I wanted the freedom to differentiate my public persona from my private, as well as my Christian books from my covert-Christian writings. So when looking for a new name, this one works pretty well! Also, I’ve recognized the power storytelling has to buttress a brand. So I think sometimes when people tell their friends about me they say something like, ‘Have you heard of this writer guy named Raw Spoon? His real name is Ross Boone, but say it fast… get it?’ And everybody has hearty chuckle, or maybe just roll their eyes, but I think they will remember it better.” There’s more to Ross Boone than just his smart wit.
Ross Boone was raised in a Christian home, and grew up questioning God’s existence. He uses his blog, A Monster in Theology, to address his questions, creating a wonderful place for others who question God to bring their doubts into the open in a safe environment.
“In regards to the tagline, Monster in Theology, I just wanted to give people the impression that I think creatively about theology. Like imaginary monsters chewing on Theology and stuff. I invented that little monster with no arms and hiding behind his scarf (see his website). He helps me illustrate the ideas. The tag line also kind of captures my kids book persona as well as illustrating and my creative storytelling approach. But I had no intention at the time of actually doing a Masters in Theology at Seminary, like I am now! Maybe I predestined it! Now there’s a theological topic that could use a monster chewing on it.”
He continues explaining his blog with a proverbial wink,“I actually have some thoughts on how free will and predestination can be the same. Just search ‘predestination’ on my blog: www.rawspoon.com. But watch out for the monster.”
His mind still wrestles with God.
Ross’s heart especially comes out in his newest book, Squire and Daniel, a story about loss on the level a child can understand.
“My uncle passed away. It was tragic for my whole family, but I saw how it completely devastated my aunt. I felt helpless to help her, but I had been writing/illustrating kids books for work so I thought, I’m just going to try and help my aunt by doing what I know how to do. So I wrote this book from the perspective of two playful, tender-hearted donkeys named Squire & Daniel (the names of my aunt and uncle’s two donkeys), and it’s a story about losing your best friend.”
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein has been a work of inspiration for him as a writer. It is about a tree that gives and a child who takes, and continues taking until the tree becomes a stump so the boy, who is now an old man, can have a place to rest at the end of his life.
“And the tree is happy to give it all for nothing in return. Even now that makes me tear up. It’s a real thing. Love like that, like Jesus gives, is a real thing. It’s a compelling thing. And something about the simple story hits the point home hard and fast. I thought, I can do that, too. Maybe I can help heal the world this way.” Ross explains.
Ross, as he mentioned in a prior quote, has just begun full time seminary. He started seminary to learn to write Christianity better to the culture. He uses his freelance work, like illustrating and design, to help pay the rent. Not everything he does is always for money.
Recently, he was one of four artists chosen by Christian suspense author, Mike Dellosso to do the cover art for a book called, Fear Mountain. Mike wrote the book to raise money for the adoption process that he and his wife recently begun. He had this to say about Ross:
“I met Ross at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I was immediately drawn in by his humility and genuineness. He’s totally transparent and approachable. He showed me some of his work and I was very impressed. He’s got talent. So when the idea for this book came up I sent out a Facebook message asking for help with the cover. Four graphic artists responded. Ross was one of those artists. I knew he’d come up with something unique because he’s a totally unique guy. Very creative. Very talented. I was thrilled he volunteered and he didn’t disappoint. He came up with a wonderful cover.”
Heart-driven authors, like Ross, are difficult to find in the book world where competition and marketing can quickly wear you out or make you jaded. For bloggers looking to learn how to do their craft well, listen to how Ross prioritizes his life:
“We make time for what our priorities are and I’ve tried to make consistent blog posts a priority. It’s how I build my readership. And they don’t take a ton of time so I try to do two of those each week. And it keeps my brain engaged, grinding through the tough questions in our faith and in our world, and that fuels ideas and techniques that I’ll put into my books later. Another thing is that producing these books and getting these ideas into the world are more important to me than getting married. I feel like I’ve been given a purpose and that is to draw people closer to God through what I can write and draw. So many people get married, have a family, and they have no more time to pursue other dreams or callings. So right now at least, I don’t have that commitment on my time. And I am okay with that. Lastly, the benefit of freelance work is that it ebbs and flows. I’m thankful for the flow because it brings in money that lets me write the books during the ebb times.”
A writer like Ross falls in love with his characters. He said in our interview, regarding his favorite book, Absent Landlord:
“I love these supremely broken characters so much, or maybe because I’ve written so much of my own heart’s own voice into it, but I love it. It’s my favorite. And I did illustrations all over in it. I put a little flipbook in the bottom corner- you can flip the pages and a homeless guy does the ‘running man’ and trips and gets hit in the head with a brick and stuff catches on fire and stuff. Don’t worry, he’s okay. Here is it on Amazon.”
Squire and Daniel and his other works show the quirky and thoughtful side of Ross Boone. I couldn’t resist getting a bit deeper in my questions. What can we learn from this writer in our walk as a Christian? What’s the story behind his words and especially in his family after losing his uncle?
“You know, my mom passed away in an accident about 10 years ago, too. So it’s been difficult for my family. It was at that time that my Dad and I started saying, ‘I love you.’ But especially after my uncle passed away. I’ve started a long journey of learning to cherish my dad- my earthly father. We’re really different and that made things tough growing up. We didn’t do anything bad to each other, it’s just different love languages leave people feeling hurt sometimes, you know?”
Ross continues, touching on his Uncle again, “Well, when my uncle, who was my dad’s twin, passed away, I realized I may not have my dad around forever, so we started intentionally trying to love each other really well. I decided to go to Ethiopia on a missions trip with him (where I recorded 200 pages of stories of miracles for this other book). But later he invited me to come home and live with them for an extended time; and then when I had a couple dreams and when some coincidences fell into place, I felt God was saying it was time.”
“A day before going home for a whole month I prayed and asked God if he wanted to say anything to me. I let my Bible fall open and the first verses my eyes landed on were in Isaiah 49 which said something like, ‘let the sons come home to their fathers again.’ That got me listening (and immediately crying) and the rest of the verse went on to say, ‘even though earthly parents will fail you, I will never fail you.’ And I realized I must not require my dad to know how to fix me. Just go home and cherish him for exactly who he is. Let him be him. Love him well, and let him love me. Let God do the healing in my soul. That passage means a whole lot to me.”
Every Christian can relate to this last quote. As we approach the Christmas season and celebrate the birth of our Savior, remember your loved ones who try, and fail, to love you perfectly. There is a God, a Father in Heaven, who loves perfectly. As all of us stumble through this one life we have, let us be brave to ask questions, make time to find answers, and be satisfied with the mystery.
*Book given by author for interview and review. Squire and Daniel will be available for check out in the Solid Rock Christian Fellowship Media Center.