Behind the books

By Kyle Neumann|
Featured image by Kyle Neumann|
Photos from Ed Ricciuti and John Himmelman|

Being an author takes a lot more than just writing books.  You may find yourself doing other things just to fill the extra time. Local authors John Himmelman and Ed Ricciuti have found ways to do all  they love, and still write fantastic books.

Ed Ricciuti attended and graduated from the University of Notre Dame from 1955-1959. From 1964 to 1965, he was a Sloan-Rockefeller Advanced Science Writing Fellow at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. John Himmelman attended the school of visual arts in Manhattan for 1977 to 1981.

John Himmelman holding Guide to Frogs, Snakes, Bugs, and Slugs.

“In addition to being an author/illustrator, I’m a naturalist with an interest in all flora and fauna. I lecture throughout the region on a variety of natural history topics. I also co-run a little martial arts school and train/teach hapkido and Jeet Kune Do.” John Himmelman explains.  Ed Ricciuti co-runs the same martial arts school and, in his free time, runs a vegetable stand.

As you can see, they both indeed have their hands full.

Writing is not anything new to either author though. John Himmelman explained that he has be writing ever since he could hold a crayon. He was able to get his first book, Talester the Lizard, accepted by a publisher his last year of college. Ed Ricciuti exclaimed that he has been writing books since 1960 as well as articles for newspapers and magazines. His first book was published in 1973.

The books John Himmelman writes are usually for children, but he makes sure that they keep parents interested too because they are usually the ones reading the books. In addition, he will write books on various natural history topics for his older audience.

Ed Ricciuti writes for first readers all the way up to and including adults. “Most of my books are about nature, conservation, the environment and science. I also have written books on law enforcement, Native Americans and man-made structures, such as skyscrapers and people. For several years, the World Wrestling Federation, now WWE, was a client, and I wrote books on professional wrestlers such as Andre the Giant, who was my friend, and Hulk Hogan. All of my books are with traditional publishers.” Ed Ricciti says.

Some may believe that being an author is a lot of work and they are right.  “The adult nature books are a LOT of work” but John also argues that they can be easier than those books where he “simply” is making up a story. Even after all that hard work, John still loves being an author and finds creating worlds and filling them with characters interesting. But there are upsides to being an author.”Mostly, I like the fact that I write about topics that interest me so I am always learning. I also like the freedom of being my own boss.”Ed exclaimed.

One of John Himmelman’s favorite books he has written is a series of books called The Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny. “I’m very happy with my newest Bunjitsu Bunny series. Each book has 12 short stories, and I’m finding I really like that story-telling format. It is giving me more freedom to explore many more aspects of my main character than I would normally have in picture books.”

Photo of Ed Ricciuti

Ed Ricciuti’s most recent book, Bears in the Backyard, informs you as to how our growing cities are sprawling into this animal’s habitat. “As cities and suburbs sprawl, and conservation efforts enable wildlife populations to recover, large wild animals are encroaching on human turf. These creatures might be thrilling to see, but they can bite, scratch, and even kill, and attacks on humans will only increase as we come face to face in the man-made landscape.”

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