The Covid pandemic has put a damper on many aspects of life, but it has also served as a catalyst for change. People have brought their loved ones closer together and found new ways to bond.
Such was the case for Sean Olsen, a Hollywood producer and writer from Rancho Santa Fe. He usually works on game show scripts and documentary plots, but during the lockdown Sean was inspired to create a special children’s book, Beware of the cuddly bear. It comes with a decorative carrying case, rich and colorful illustrations, a cozy bear hat and paws, and a storybook with a fun and informative glossary.
Beware the Cuddle Bear is the story of world explorer and animal expert Sir Benedict Beaker, on an epic journey in search of the elusive but loveable Cuddle Bear. The book bundle is available online through Amazon and its own website, www.bewarethecuddlebear.com.
A labor of love, Sean worked on the book in secret, as a gift for his wife and children. He wrote it, collaborated with an artist on artwork, created its unique packaging, and had it self-published. Her family, including her father, Rancho Santa Fe resident and author Paul Olsen, were surprised and delighted. We had no idea he was writing a book, Paul said. My wife Susie and I were very impressed.
Sean dedicated the book to his daughter Lucy, son Tucker, wife Megan and family dog Bailey. He calls the book a note of love to his family and he hopes other families will find joy and enjoyment in its pages. The intention, he said, is for parents and children to connect.
Creativity is in the family
Like son, like father. Last year, while Sean was secretly producing Beware the Cuddle Bear, Paul published his book, Phone Warriors: Exposing the Telecom Wars of the 1970s, an insider’s look at the telecom industry. With the release of Seans’ book, the Olsen family can claim two first authors in one year, from one generation to the next. Paul worked in telecommunications, Sean works in television, but they share a love of storytelling and a dedication to family.
Also, like his father, Sean struggled to find the right publisher. He pitched it to mainstream children’s book publishers, but didn’t get a solid offer. While Paul ultimately settled on a company he loved, Sean decided the best publisher was himself. Unwilling to compromise on production quality or alter its unique features, he opted to pay for the initial print run of 600 copies. Boosted by in-person appearances and social media, sales are now on the rise. Beware, the cuddly bear is not yet a bestseller like Paul’s book was, but its popularity continues to grow.
From Hollywood with love
Sean graduated from the Annenberg School of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Southern California with the intention of becoming a journalist. But he caught the show business bug and went on to produce and write popular series such as Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader and Wild On. Today, he and his family live in Hermosa Beach where he pursues his television career while working on a children’s book sequel, a Christmas story also starring Sir Benedict Beaker.
Sean is really so creative and fun, said his wife, Megan. She is a marketer for a food company and uses her skills to help sell and distribute Beware the Cuddle Bear. Knowing that this book was a love letter to our children was really special, she said. His daughter Lucy, who her parents call the original Cuddly Bear, said her favorite thing about the book is that it taught her new words. I love the glossary at the end of the book because it explains what big and new words mean, she said.
Seuss inspired writing
When asked how his television career intersects with writing his children’s books, Sean notes that writing is a skill that improves with time and practice. Genres are different, he says, but it’s possible to write quickly and well in any style if a person is willing to get into it. Just as he had to learn to write for the screen by studying what works, he studied Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein and others to learn what works for children’s books.
I looked for meter and pattern as well as rhythm, music and alliteration in writing, he said. He credits Dr. Seusss Oh, The Places Youll Go! like a book that showed him how successful children’s books flow and are full of humor and heart.
In Beware the Cuddle Bear, a passage from Sir Benedict Beaker’s voice provides an example of the lively tone of the book: Hush! HUSH NOW! The CUDDLE BEAR is here! Should we approach? Should we explore? Do we dare? SURE! It’s catchy and fast-paced and Sean said when his children read aloud, they respond with smiles and laughter.
And that’s most important to the author, that families find joy and connection from his book. Whether I sell a book or a thousand, I have something to put in a time capsule, something that has made my family and others happy.
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