Paul Collins is like many dads. In addition to his day job—he’s an investment banker and partner at a major private strategic advisory and M&A firm—he takes his father job seriously. One of the main responsibilities, particularly when his kids were young? Reading books to his children Sean (now 11), Caroline (now 9) and Adeline (now 7). But the Greenwich father wasn’t happy with much of the selection available. “It all started when my kids asked me to tell them stories because they didn’t like the books they were reading. My kids wanted fun, action-based adventure stories. They wanted to read about princes and princesses, and animals like eagles, bears, tigers, spiders and snakes. My wife and I felt that most of the kids’ books we were reading to them had no meaningful messages or values,” recalls Paul. So the mid-country resident started thinking about stories that encompassed values like the importance of family and helping others. He decide to start publishing his own books focused on “The Principles of Life”, and Moonlight Puppies Press was born. (There are now six with five on the way soon.) We spoke to Paul about his wonderful small business.
When did you launch Moonlight Puppies and where are you based?
I began coming up with stories about eight years ago and I officially started Moonlight Puppies in 2016. The company is based in Greenwich.
Besides you and your kids wanting something more from the books you were reading, was there anything else influencing your decision to start this business?
When my dad passed away eight years ago and I gave his eulogy, I realized he had accomplished many great things in his life. He was on the Irish Olympic team. He was a horse vet who founded the Irish Equine Center, one of the largest facilities in the world that looks into diseases for horses. Reflecting on his passing, I asked myself what will people say about me? What is my gift? What contribution can I make to the greater good of the world? After they heard my stories, my friends and family would always tell me if my stories were books, they would definitely buy them. They loved the stories. That inspired me to actually write and publish my stories as books.
So great! What has been the best part of starting this company?
Kids fall in love with my books. Kids ask me if “Ellie The Eagle (The Rockefeller Christmas Tree)” is real. I know some kids who won’t go to sleep unless their parents read them some of my books twice (“Moonlight Puppies” and “Tickles the Tiger Cub,” in particular). I love hearing that. It means I have captured their imaginations in a very real and tangible way. It also means they are reading and learning The Principles of Life, over and over.
Do you have a favorite book, one that shows what your publishing house is all about?
“The Seamstress and The Prince” is a traditional love story with a contemporary twist, in which a young orphan girl who is a brave, disabled army veteran, wins the heart of her country’s prince. The seamstress goes through a series of tests before finally winning the hand of the prince. Because she is so brave and clever, the king makes her General of the Armies (you go girl!) and the prince becomes the stay-at-home dad. The message is simple—we should encourage young girls to strive to be great. They should be encouraged to think big, speak up and be counted.
You write all the books—where do you find inspiration?
My stories start with a request from one of my kids. Sitting on a plane, driving to work or just relaxing on the couch, I will think about their request and work through different ideas. For example, my son asked to tell him a story with a tarantula spider. Around the same time, I was talking to a teacher about bullying in schools. That led to a book called “Tony The Tarantula.”
Do your kids help with the business?
Absolutely, they inspire and encourage me. They give me the seeds for the story. When I tell them the story the first couple of times, I will test certain ideas, scenes and jokes out with them. They help me finesse what becomes the final version.
What are your plans for the press?
Great question! I ask myself that all the time. I believe we should all give something back to society. Some people coach baseball, others teach, do community service, etc. I want to give all kids strong positive messages and values through my books. By the end of this year, I will have eleven books and two coloring books on my website: https://www.moonlightpuppies.com. I want kids who read my books to love them and, hopefully, have them become their favorite books.
I want to get my publishing house better known, and start contributing to my charitable foundation for kids in a meaningful way. Eventually, I want to build up the publishing business. I will invite other authors to publish with me under three conditions. 1. Their stories must have a positive message/value for kids. 2. We pick the illustrator together. 3. These authors are also willing to give part of the proceeds to children’s charities.
Long-term I will add trivia and arts & crafts games, and plush toys. Everything is geared to educating and teaching our kids values and principles they can live by. I would like to see some of my stories become animated movies.
I hope someday people will remember me because I did something worthwhile to make this world a better place for kids, and that these kids are good, caring, and want to make a positive difference in their communities.
To buy one of Paul’s books, go to Moonlight Puppies Press.