Intimate Conversation with Dr. Eric Quarles
The difference between kids who are motivated and those who are not, is merely placing them in the midst of positive influencers. Dr. Quarles brings a wealth of experience serving in the law enforcement community for the past 18 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, a Master of Science in Administration degree in Leadership, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration.
Dr. Eric Quarles has a unique insight into the challenges faced by young children and a desire to make a difference in the community. The Officer Goodman and Friends series is an example of Dr. Quarles’ effort to bridge the gap between the young children and law enforcement agencies.
He resides in Atlanta, Georgia and is a Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? Available on Nook and Kindle?
EQ: The Stories of Officer Goodman and Friends is the first installment of a series of eight books. I am really excited about the story lines that will be presented in the series. These books discuss real life challenges that young children confront in today’s society. Because it is such a prevalent issue, I feel it is important for children to be able to create a voice and understand the world they are experiencing. Currently, police issues are the topic of numerous conversations and young children are formulating their own opinions. I’m hopeful that I have created a platform for children, parents, and police to begin building a healthy line of communication.
Unfortunately, the first book isn’t available on Nook or Kindle. I am working to make the remainder of the series available electronically.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special?
EQ: Officer Goodman is the main character in all of the stories. He is a typical police officer in Exceptional City, USA. He meets a diverse group of children and together, they address the issues in the community. There are five kids in total and each has his/her own main storyline with Officer Goodman.
Chase- Is an Honor Roll student at Achievement Academy. Science is his favorite subject and he likes to practice his junior detective skills.
Ethan- Participates in many sports at Achievement Academy. Biology is his favorite subject and he enjoys skateboarding.
Junjie- Attends Achievement where he can often be found in the computer lab surfing the web.
Depa-Is a social studies fanatic. She enjoys helping others and volunteering at the local animal shelter.
Maia- Is an Honor Roll student at Achievement Academy. She is a huge history fan and spending time in the library.
The passion behind both the stories and the individual characters is to bring light to issues that children in this age range mayencounter. I feel it is important for a police officer and children to take this journey together. Each story also ends with a life lesson for all parties involved. The end goal, however, is to begin establishing trust on both ends.
BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
EQ: As a former police officer and father myself, I noticed that there appeared to be a gap in age-appropriate reading material that offered insight into the current environment. These books are not just focused on the relationship between police and citizens. They also discuss issues of bullying, prejudices, internet usage, improper touching, and same sex marriage. Again, I wanted to provide a platform based on transparency while also encouraging open communication from our children. It is important for young children to have a concept of the world they live in and knowledge on how to coexist within that world. To no surprise, young children are much more advanced than we give them credit for.
Why now? I have always wanted to write books and I discovered my passion for writing during the dissertation phase of my PhD program. Some other works I am currently working on include self-help books for adults, and identifying the interlink between social media and teenagers.
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
EQ: Wow. This is going to sound weird but I am a process type of guy. The journey was the most fulfilling part of writing this book. The book started as an idea in my head and then I started to put it down on paper. I then started drawing stick people and mentally developing images of my characters. I had to find an artist to help me bring my vision to reality. Once I saw the final product, to me it felt like a dream. It was much more than my stick people and scribbled notes. While the business portion of developing this book was a bit of a headache, the learning experience I gained was well worth it. Not only did I have to create a company, but essentially, I became my own business. Do this really made me appreciate the process that much more. In fact, this experience has led me pursue other business ventures.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot-driven or character-driven?
EQ: Good question. Most of my ideas come from past experiences as a city police officer. Many of the stories derive from cases that I have investigated and had a specific opinion and/or thought process on. I then added a little twist on them to be able to offer a perspective that children could understand. Oftentimes, I think we overlook the fact that they are developing an understanding of the world they are seeing and experiencing. Thus, I wanted to design a series of books just for them to address the issues they may confront.
Yes, the books are plot-driven based on my years of experience as a police officer. From those experiences, I was able to draw key things from them to be able to develop a plot for each one of the characters.
BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book? If so, discuss them.
EQ: I have a diverse cast of characters and I wanted to make sure to include all ethnic populations in the series because that is an accurate picture of our current society. Again, coming from a law enforcement background and being part of many research studies, I realized that other populations of people have issues with police, not just African Americans. At some point, we all need to come together to overcome issues. There is not one population over the other.
The series of books will discuss issues that I have not seen in children’s books, some of which may be considered “tongue and cheek”. For example, I have worked part time as a school police officer and discovered it was easier working the streets. Children have issues that we as adults think they are adjusting well to (i.e., a new school). In actuality, they may be strugglingwith this and may attempt to change faces to make their parents happy. Unfortunately, they may not have the mental fortitude to overcome the issue. Thus, future books will discuss interracial relationships, same sex marriage, racial issues, bullying, internet usage, and improper touching.
BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation, spiritual practice or journey?
EQ: The first book in the series “The Misunderstanding” is relevant to the current issue with police officers and the community. There is a lack of communication and understanding by both parties. When there is a disconnect between citizens and police there will almost always be an internal conflict. The key now is to establish a new forum for all parties to express their issues with the conflicting party. Most teenagers and adults have their opinion of police which may or may not change. I feel it is important to change the relationship and mindset of children since they have yet to begin to navigate their own decision making in life.
BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
EQ: Creating this book has taught me that I have an entrepreneur spirit; it provided an awareness that I wasn’t sure I had. I also realized the direction I want to take this project and other projects that I am releasing in the future. I really want to develop “Officer Goodman and Friends” into an enterprise. There has to be a lot of dedication to make any project successful.
BPM: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
EQ: The most amazing people I met developing my book were the artists. I had to interview and meet several artists before I settled for the individual that ultimately illustrated the book. It was incredible to hear and see some of the sample scenes they created. The artist I eventually ended up hiring, Mr. Barry Duperon, brought my scenes and characters to life by using various angles, character expressions, background scenes, all while incorporating his overall vision for the product.
BPM: What were the goals and intentions in writing this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
EQ: The overall goal and intention of the current book and upcoming books is to build trust between police officers and children. The purpose of the book is to bring awareness to issues that children may encounter as well as begin to create a dialogue with parents. Thus far, I have received quite a trail of positive feedback regarding the first book – most of which give praise to addressing the current issues of this political environment.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
EQ: I am working on a three part series of self help book for law enforcement officers: (1) Police need help too (2) Understanding the Police & (3) Policing while black. I hope to have release dates available soon.
I also have a nonprofit mentoring program for young men ages 13-18, the Progressive Male Enrichment Program. This program is designed to equip young men with proper decision making skills and to begin providing tools to assist in navigating their way through adulthood.
I am also in the process of creating a podcast to discuss criminal justice issues in a forum manner. This one is still in the development phase as I am still in the planning and figuring out the best way to achieve overall goals.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
The Stories of Officer Goodman and Friends (The Misunderstanding) (Volume 1)
I have several social media outlets.
FaceBook: The Stories of Officer Goodman and Friends
Officer Goodman and Friends website: http://officergoodmanandfriends.com
Progressive Male Enrichment Program website: www.progressivemaleprogram.com