As you may have guessed from seeing my name in the url above, or because we have met and I told you about the site, or because you have some amazing form of ESP, my name is Phillip Van Wagoner. I put together this site so I can share the things that I write, and the things that I do to share the things that I write!
In third grade, I came across a book in my school library called “Where the Sidewalk Ends”. It’s likely you’ve read it yourself. I had never seen anything like it before – reading it made me swell up with joy (and still does). While I had grown up on Dr. Seuss, and am still a huge fan of his work as well, it was the simple yet detailed black & white line drawings and the fearlessness with which Shel Silverstein approached some relatively dark subject matter. People got eaten and turned in to televisions. Children bought themselves new parents. And yet, the heart of his work was always about kindness, love, silliness, and sticking together in the real world. That book made a lasting impression on me.
At the age of 25, I found myself writing my own little poems. It was just a hobby at first – I’d find myself laughing at a few rhyming lines in my head and pull out a notepad to jot them down. Well, the hobby grew, and soon I was writing more and longer stories and sharing them. After writing these poems for 9 years, and realizing I was never going to stop, I decided to take it more seriously.
In 2014, I partnered with Spencer Smith, an incredible artist (and person!) to begin work on our first book. Could You Hug A Cactus? is a 40 page collection of my poetry paired with Spencer’s original acrylic illustrations and we’re incredibly proud of it.
In order to get the book off of the ground, we ran a Kickstarter in August of 2015 that went very well, we not only met our goal, but two stretch goals as well. That allowed us to get the book printed and bring the project to life!
On March 8, 2016, Could You Hug A Cactus? was officially released, and everything has been a whirlwind since that day! If you have any questions about the process of building the book (Adobe InDesign), the Kickstarter, or anything else – please feel free to reach out. Thanks for reading!