From being the manager of the Capital Complex in the heart of Fredericton’s Tannery, to managing “Feels Good”, a multi-disciplinary arts event organizing company, and now writing children’s books, Paul McAllister is a modern day Fredericton hero.
“I’ve been running Feels Good for 8 years, going on 9 now. I have always loved multi-disciplinary events; the marriage between visual art and music.” Just over a year ago, Paul started a project of his own that has been on the top of his list for a long time, an illustrated children’s book about an under-the-bed monster named Herman.
‘There and Back Again, A Herman Tale’ came to fruition when Paul and Frederictonian artist Emily Brown, came together a year ago to begin production of the book. “I’ve always loved monsters. I remember having long-standing debates with my very rational uncle about whether monsters existed or not and I insisted that they did. It drove him crazy. He could not handle the fact that I really did, and that I still, believe in monsters.” Paul’s belief helped him to come up with the story of Herman, an under-the-bed monster who really just wants to find out who he is and where he belongs.
“They’re kind of like Muppets, where they are around but people don’t really register the fact that they are different. Sometimes they ignore them; adults usually ignore them. The under the bed monsters, their job is sneaking around, making the floorboards creak, the shadows dance, and being unseen and quiet. Herman likes his work, he’s very good at it, but he doesn’t like being quiet. It bothers him that he has to be quiet all of the time. He watches the street monsters outside, you know, dancing, and singing, and partying all night. That’s what they do, they make the noises in the alleyways. He really wants to join them and finally he works up the courage to sneak out and join them. At first, he’s rejected, but he slowly works his way in. Then he has all sorts of misadventures. I’m going to leave what happens then. Something happens, I’ll just say that.”
Paul’s relationship with the monster Herman, however, is more than just resonating with a character that he made up. To Paul, Herman’s adventures and his character symbolise the journeys that we all experience in life. As the manager of The Capital Complex, and an organizer of events in and around the city, he has had the opportunity to meet so many people and learn their stories. These stories, these experiences, coupled with Paul’s own experiences, especially as an entrepreneur, represent the little monster in so many of us. “We all go through those soul searching times growing up where we’re like, ‘What I’m doing, I don’t want to do it. I want to do something else.’ A big thing in life is taking those risks and trying those other things, and going out and putting yourself out there. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the big thing is doing. You know, just going about your day and trying stuff, with the little monster within us all.”
Paul’s newly formed publishing company, or rather ‘Herman’s Monster House Publishing’ will be gifting Frederictonians with several more stories that are based off of Herman’s world, the second of which is called, ‘A New Song for Herman’. “We’re going to expand on the universe, so there will be stories about Herman and there will be stories about Herman’s monster friends. There may even be stories about Sarah, the little girl that he scared.” Paul will be sending a copy of his book to every Anglophone school in New Brunswick. He will also be donating a dollar from every sale of ‘There and Back Again, A Herman Tale’ towards a local literacy program for Elementary School students in Fredericton, Elementary Literacy Friends. “I’m really trying to use this book as stimulation for early reading because I struggled with it. I did, bigtime. I didn’t really learn how to read until I was in Grade 3 or 4, you know? After that, I always loved getting a story to go to bed. I had a really hard time. I went through these programs and they really made a lasting impression on me.”
Paul’s book, ‘There and Back Again, A Herman Tale’, can be purchased at Westminster and Real Food Connections in Fredericton starting the week of December 21st.