Friday, October 14, 2016

Interview with children's author Stephen Nawotniak

Children’s author Stephen Nawotniak is here with me today talking about Mubu the Morph.

Stephen Nawotniak OTR/L has a Self Designed Masters from Buffalo State College and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Utica College. For 8 month’s he hiked, biked, sailed and canoed from Buffalo, NY to Key West, FL. He gave presentations to over 1000 youth on the values of volunteerism and education and completed over 230 hours of community service along the way.

Living WITH a condition, not just coping with an illness is the focus of Stephen Nawotniak, OTR/L. Stephen blends his personal experiences of rebuilding his life after 2 hospitalizations for his bipolar condition and professional experiences as an occupational therapist to share skills and systems to accommodate needs and enjoy a desired quality of life. 

His award-winning Mubu the Morph children's book series speaks to the inner journey we all face as we discover our purpose. In his is book Handbook for Healthy Living with a Mood Disorder, Stephen shares his journey with authenticity and vulnerability to provide hope for those suffering from depression, anxiety and bipolar conditions and help for them to take back their lives. He has committed to use his experiences to help break down the stigma associated with mental illness and demystify the experience of a mood disorder. Stephen currently lives and practices Occupational Therapy in Buffalo, NY.

Welcome, Stephen. Please tell us about your current release.
This rhyming, rhythmical read along is perfect for the young at heart. It is a tale of Mubu the Morph as he searches with a bird, dog and fish for his purpose. In each case, he uses the talents of the animal to help him search for his hearts song. Its only when he stops looking outside of himself, and turns to self understanding, that he begins to see that his own gifts and talents are what makes him special. He then begins to understand that he gets to choose how he views his gifts and that personal choice plays a significant factor on how he lives.

An adult message in a child friendly tone, Mubu shows us that while we make take many roles and identities throughout our lives, our true identity is created from the inside out.

Mubu the Morph is written for children in grades K-3 yet may all readers experience a shift of self value and purpose from external validation or a comparison with others to an expression of their own internal gifts. First without, then within…are you ready to begin?

4 Points of Interest about the book’s content or story:
1. It was developed from the intense experiences from living with a bipolar condition
2. It was inspired by the Dr. Seuss book “Oh the places you will go.”
3. The character of Mubu represents “hope”
4. Mubu’s journey of self discovery parallels the journey we all take throughout our lives.

What inspired you to write this book?
Being a licensed healthcare provider as an Occupational Therapist I am committed to supporting people in living the best quality of life that they can. Living with a bipolar disorder has taught me the realities of stigma, the importance of life lessons and stories which overcome struggles. Having both has illuminated the need to pass on principles and life lessons to the next generation.

What exciting story are you working on next? Our next book, Mubu’s Heroes, shares how we all have talents/powers within us that can be seen or unseen. We can use these powers, regardless of our circumstance, to help others and our community. This book will feature superhero like drawings as well as everyday heroes like firefighters, teachers and emergency medical responders. We plan to release it in 2017.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I published my first book in 2000 which was about the internal struggles experienced while planning an 8 month, non-motorized Trek from Buffalo, NY to Key West, FL. Since then I have written another adult book titles Handbook for Healthy Living with a Mood Disorder, 2 journal articles related to Occupational Therapy and 3 children’s books. I guess I got the bug off my first book and have been playing with it ever since

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
My full time job is as the Director of Peer Advocacy at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. The Mubu the Morph series is a fun, creative outlet I enjoy building and a legacy I want to leave behind.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I write I actually play with word sounds and craft it around a message. I feel like it is more like putting a jigsaw puzzle together than writing a story.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an outdoor adventure guide, like for canoe trips, backpacking trips and white water rafting. That desire led me to developing my 8 month, non-motorized trek of service discussed earlier.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The achievement of a dream is the dance between the personal growth of an individual and the evolution of an idea.


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