CHILDREN AUTHOR: Meet James Burd Brewster & Uncle Rocky, Fireman

Meet James Burd Brewster & Uncle Rocky, Fireman

James Burd Brewster
was raised in Albany, NY, learned to sail on Lake Champlain, navigated a Polar Icebreaker for the US Coast Guard, and married Katie Spivey from Wilmington, NC. They lived in Baltimore, MD when Jim told Ben and Luke the Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories. Their family grew to five (Ben, Luke, Rachel, Andrew, Sam) and they settled in Pomfret, MD outside of Washington, DC where Jim finished up a career in the US Coast Guard. During this time, Katie educated all five children at home which Jim says gave him the motivation to tell the Uncle Rocky, fireman stories to Ben and Luke. Twenty four years later, when Jim and Katie became empty nesters, they took a creative writing course from Dr. Wayne Karlin, which prompted them to consider converting the Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories into illustrated children’s books.
Through the assistance of Yvonne Medley of the Life Journeys Writers Club and advice from James Mascia (author of High School Heroes) Jim was able to find an illustrator and complete four books. Ben and Luke are no longer 6 and 4. Ben is a Marine, married, the local writers club, and father of four. Luke is an Apple employee in Chicago, IL. Ben now tells Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories to his sons, Levi, Micah, and Judah.

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?

The short answer is “God’s Timing.” The long answer goes back 25 years to 1990 when I told the Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories to my two oldest boys (Ben and Luke) as I put them to bed at night... They were 6 and 4 at the time. I had a blast telling them the stories and they had a riot acting them out. I especially enjoyed seeing them mimic Uncle Rocky’s arm motion and hearing them say “Glad to do it” at the end of each story. We thought other parents might like the same experience with their kids. As a result, Katie and I always thought they would do well as illustrated children’s stories.

About 15 years ago, the boys and I sat down and wrote down as a many titles and themes as we could remember and I actually wrote out several episodes as complete stories. Fast forward to the fall of 2012 when Katie and I were officially “Empty Nesters,” as the last of our five children was off to college. To celebrate, we enrolled in a creative writing class taught by Wayne Karlin at the College of Southern Maryland.

Our writing assignments got me thinking of the Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories and I brought them out of mental and physical storage and actively began to think of a book project. My renewed interest in writing and a Tax refund check made me receptive to a notice I saw on the library bulletin board for the Feb 16, 2013 meeting of the Life Journey’s Writer’s club (LJWC) founded by author Yvonne J. Medley (The Plumb Line). As a note, my stumbling block to starting the Uncle Rocky, Fireman books had been the cost and difficulty of finding an illustrator. I thought the writer’s club might be able to help me, so my daughter Rachel and I attend the meeting.

Sure enough, at the meeting I meet children’s book author Mr. James Mascia (High School Heroes series) and he told me I could find all the affordable illustrators I would ever need at He was correct. Within 24 hours I had contracted with Dayna Barley-Cohrs to illustrate my books and we had the four books printed and published by June 2013. It changed our lives.

BPM: Does your upbringing, prior relationships or life experiences inspire your writing?

My parents were very creative and storytelling is not unique to us. My dad use to tell us the story of “Loldiglocks and the Be Threars,” (Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with word sounds reversed). Katie’s parents and mine also invested lots of time and love in us as kids. As new parents, we copied our successful parents and telling these stories and spending creative time with our kids just mirrored their example.

As devout, practicing Christians our parents (Mine - Episcopalian, Katie’s - Southern Baptist) also taught us to be observant and look out for needs in others that we could help meet (i.e. be the hands and feet of Jesus). Uncle Rocky very clearly models that attitude and it was a model we wanted our boys to copy.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? 

Uncle Rocky, Fireman grew out of the Father-Son time I had with my two oldest boys (Ben and Luke) as I put them to bed at night. They were 6 and 4 at the time and I told story each night. Little boys like fireman, so I created a fireman character who not only was on the Hook and Ladder truck, but also had the neatest job of driving the rear wheels of the truck and operating the ladder. After that is was pretty easy as each night all I had to do was think up a different type of fire to go to.

Each story had four purposes: 1) Have the station alarm ring so that the Uncle Rocky could run to the fire gear and get dressed (my boys acted this out); 2) Test everything on the truck to make sure they worked before they left for the fire (my boys made ALL the sounds); 3) Go rescue or help someone (be the hero); and 4) say “Glad to do it!” after being praised for being a hero (my boys loved saying “Glad to do it!” along with Uncle Rocky).

Eventually, I ran out of types of fires to go to so Uncle Rocky was transferred to the EMT unit and he responded to medical emergencies until we ran out of those. Then he joined the fire boat unit and eventually ended up with the Medical Evacuation Helicopter. In addition, Uncle Rocky is friends with Officer Jack (police stories) and their girlfriends are a middle school teacher (Melanie) and emergency room nurse (Jessica).

BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?

Uncle Rocky, Fireman recounts the adventures of Uncle Rocky (new firefighter) and his two nephews (Ben and Luke). They are children’s illustrated story books designed to be read by a parent (preferably Dad) to ages 7 and below.

Uncle Rocky, Fireman by James Burd Brewster, Illustrated by Dayna Barley-Cohrs, is a series of children's picture books about the adventures of Uncle Rocky (new firefighter) and his two nephews (Ben and Luke). They are children’s illustrated story books designed to be read by a parent (preferably Dad) to ages 7 and below. Apart or together they fight fires, rescue people, and help neighbors. The stories emphasize service to others and devotion to duty with each story ending with the trademark statement, "Glad to do it!

Uncle Rocky, Fireman #1 - Fire! 

New firefighter, Rocky Hill, arriving at his first fire is confronted by a frantic mother shouting, "Save my Baby, Save My Baby." While his partners attack the fire Rocky, his heart pounding with the urgency of the situation, crawls through the upstairs searching for the baby trapped in her crib.

Uncle Rocky, Fireman #2 - Something's Missing

Rocky Hill has been a firefighter for only three weeks but cannot get it out of his head that something is missing at the station. But what is it? His thoughts about this mystery are interrupted by the visit of his two nephews, Ben and Luke. The interruption does not last long however as Luke's insightful question points Rocky in the right direction.

Uncle Rocky, Fireman #3 - Sparky's Rescue

New firefighter, Rocky Hill and his two nephews, Ben and Luke, are on a mission to find a mascot for the fire house. Only a Dalmatian will do, but the City Pound has none and the Pet Store is sold out; strikes one and two. If Valley Kennels is strike three the mission will be a failure and Uncle Rocky's day off wasted.

Uncle Rocky, Fireman #4 - Sparky Protects

Sparky, the fire station’s new Dalmatian dog, has done well in training, but Rocky Hill knows that Sparky has not been tested by a real fire. When Sparky attacks the hose team as they approach a burning garage, Uncle Rocky fears the worst. Maybe Sparky is not a fire dog after all.

We have also published a 12 episode chapter book written for a 3rd grade reader titled: The Adventures of Uncle Rocky, Fireman. The books are all available in paperback from or Amazon .com. Electronic books can be purchased at or Kindle

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?

It is important to note for parent’s sake that all of the characters in the Uncle Rocky, Fireman series are kind, friendly, nice people, who like to help others and there are no bad issues that need to be explained. Uncle Rocky, Ben and Luke act towards and treat others in the same manner that we are teaching our children to act.

Uncle Rocky is a new firefighter, just graduated from the Fire Academy. Ben and Luke (actually my boy’s names) are his two nephews whom he likes and frequently does thing with. Uncle Rocky is teamed with Bob (Truck Captain) and Big Joe (driver). Their station chief is a seasoned, growly fire veteran whom every just refers to as “Chief.” They all get along, want to fight fires and rescue people, and are interested in each other’s success and well being.

BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book? 

The topics discussed in the book are actually shown through the character’s behavior. They are kind, nice people who believe it is their Christian responsibility or civic duty to be kind to and help others and they live that out in every Uncle Rocky, Fireman episode.

Writing and publishing the Uncle Rocky, Fireman series has driven home to me that NO ONE gets to their end point entirely on their own effort. Everyone is moved along the way by many kind and helpful people who with either provide crucial information (James Mascia with the website info or KR Raye with her referral to Ella Curry) or essential encouragement (Katie who thinks the books are wonderful and Yvonne Medley who created the Life Journals Writers Club).

BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I am a “Project Guy,” meaning I like to conceive an idea (the books), think the process through from A to Z, and then see it I can make it work. I am not a writer in that I am compelled to write, as many are. I am driven by a desire to see this project work out.

BPM: What are your expectations for this book? What would you like for readers to do after reading this book? 
I hope the Uncle Rocky, Fireman book series grows to over 100 episodes as I have material and stories from fire fighters to fill over 100 episodes. However, I really hope it grows to over 100 episodes because fathers and son have the same fun we did with Ben and Luke in telling and acting out these stories.

My real desire is for parents and children, after reading Uncle Rocky, Fireman is to follow Uncle Rocky’s example in being “Glad to do it!” to help others.

BPM: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? 
Katie and I home taught our five children (Ben, Luke, Rachel, Andrew, Samuel) and my guess is that if we hadn’t been homeschooling, I might not have had the motivation to tell Ben and Luke the Uncle Rocky, Fireman stories. That would have meant the loss of all the great memories we have about Uncle Rocky and “Glad to do it!” For that, I am forever grateful to Katie for learning about and being willing to home school our family.

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

The entire Uncle Rocky, Fireman series and its associated coloring pages (free download) are available at


Author Website:
Independent Bookstore :
Facebook Page:

Sneak Peek From Uncle Rocky, Fireman #1 Fire!

Crawling through the room, he felt the legs of a crib, reached into it, and touched a baby. The baby did not move.

Uncle Rocky picked up the baby, covered her with his arms and held her close to his chest and turnout coat.

He raced through the hallway and down the stairs to fresh air. Uncle Rocky was worried. The baby still had not moved.

Outside the young lady ran up to them, but Bob kept her back until Uncle Rocky could examine the baby.

Uncle Rocky opened his arms. He looked at the baby and gave a big sigh of relief.
He smiled, walked over the mother, and gently placed the baby in her arms. She smiled and started to cry. Her daughter was sound asleep.

The mother looked up at Uncle Rocky with tears in her eyes and said, "Thank you. Thank you for saving my baby. Thank God you came in time."

Uncle Rocky felt good. He also thanked God. This is why he had become a firefighter.

He looked into the mother's eyes and said,

"Glad to do it!

Tomorrow Night: Uncle Rocky, Fireman “Something’s Missing”

( Continued... )

© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, James Burd Brewster. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.