You might know local Zack Bush as the co-owner of the popular Little Havana bar Ball & Chain. But now he's also a published author.
Bush recently penned his first children's book, Made for Me, inspired by the birth of his firstborn son, Ace. For three years, he's been writing the book and now calls it the project he's "proudest of." The 32-page book details a new dad's journey through his baby's first milestones.
"A lot of people, when they become new parents, say they want to write children's books, but then the idea fades away," Bush says. "But for me, it was something I kept thinking about and knew I had to do it. There's something about holding your baby for the first time that's so inspiring. I'm very comfortable with my emotions and how I express myself, and I wanted to show that emotion in the book."
Bush began the writing process on his own, scouting for publishing houses and illustrators independently while juggling ownership of the bar and raising the baby. The late nights with his son would turn into writing sessions. He said writing the book has been one of his most challenging endeavors because there is no blueprint for publishing. Before fatherhood, the last time he sat down to write was in college.
"I knew that writing the book was going to be hard, but I didn't know just how difficult it is. I also didn't go into this thinking about the money I would make from it, because anyone who goes into writing or any of these creative industries knows it's not always lucrative. After this process, I have so much more respect for people that chose this profession to pay their bills," Bush says. "I've been lucky to have the support of my wife Gina and locals like Books & Books and my publishers."
Bush says the response to Made for Me has been incredible, and he thinks it's because there aren't many children's books that show the protagonist as the dad and highlight the love and excitement fathers feel when they become parents. He hopes that through reading his book, more people — especially dads — will know it's OK to feel emotional about their babies and it's OK to express it.
Made for Me, published by Familius, has already sold more than 20,000 copies. Bush even had to reschedule a signing at Books & Books after running out of copies. The new signing is scheduled for this Sunday, June 10. The book is available for purchase online, and most recently, Whole Foods began selling it at locations nationwide.
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Bush says the success of the book was unexpected, but it's inspired him to move forward with future book ideas. He's considering writing a story about the role of a mom, or about being a dad to a little girl, inspired by the birth of his second child, Ava. Wherever the journey takes him, he says he's incredibly grateful to his family and especially his wife, whom he calls one of his biggest supporters.
"Just the other day, I was doing a reading at my son's school, and I looked over at my wife, and she had tears in her eyes. I think that as the kids get older and we go through different stages, the themes of the books will change. But it will always be a sweet memory for us and the kids to look back as they grow and show them just how much they inspired me and how much they changed our lives."
Made For Me costs $16.99 and is available for purchase online and at bookstore chains.