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Red Rock welcomes children's author

Minneapolis-based author John Coy visited Red Rock Elementary April 4 to discuss his books, and his writing, with third, fourth and fifth grade classe

Red Rock Elementary students have been getting a taste of the writing world in recent weeks.

For the last couple Wednesdays, March 28 and April 4, students have been treated to local author visits.

On March 28 children's author and illustrator Stephen Shaskan spoke to Red Rock Elementary's kindergarten, first and second grade classes.

April 4 brought Minnesota author John Coy to talk to third, fourth and fifth graders.

"I love getting together with kids and talking to them about books," Coy said. "I love seeing their reaction to books."

Keeping things interesting

Coy, who lives in Minneapolis, published his first book, "Night Driving," in 1996 after having no experience with writing previously.

Coy previously worked with autistic adults at group homes and he also worked in demolition for a time.

"When I was a kid, nobody had really suggested I could be an author, so it wasn't something I was thinking about," he said. "It wasn't until I was a dad and I was reading lots of books to my daughter when she was little that I thought it would be fun to try and write a story."

Coy said he was fascinated with how children's books had evolved since he was a child in text, illustration and even story.

"I really thought these were beautiful books," he said, "I wonder if I could write a story."

Coy began writing his first book by thinking back to his childhood and what some of his best memories were.

"I looked to the strongest memories of being a kid," he said.

One of the memories that stuck out most in Coy's mind, he said, were the summer road trips he would take with his family.

"So I started writing a story about being on one of those trips," he said.

Coy's first book, "Night Driving," tells the story of a boy and his father driving into the night, and while they drive they watch the sun set, talk about baseball, sing cowboy songs, and let the miles roll past.

"Night Driving" took a total of six years to write and publish. However, the wait was well worth it, Coy said, since the book received numerous awards and was even reviewed by the New York Times.

"I was as surprised as anybody when publishers said, 'We'd like to make it into a book,'" he said. "But, the most unusual thing was writing a story that was kind of my story and finding out that people were actually interested in that."

Since "Night Driving" was released, Coy has published a total of 12 books including picture books, young adult novels and a middle-grade series.

"I've written books that I would have liked to have as a kid," he said. "Sometimes adults try to select books that kids should be interested in not what kids are genuinely interested in.

"I just try to write an interesting story and the kids are more than capable of coming up with what it means to them."

Many of Coy's books include sports.

"Sometimes (sports fans) don't feel like what they're passionate about is as evident in the library as things that other kids are passionate about," Coy said.

Coy's next book will be a picture book about the invention of basketball.

"It continues to seem magical to me that something that I write sitting in my house goes out into the world and kids pick it up," he said.

For more information on John Coy, or to purchase his books, visit his website at

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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