Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Another Mother's Day

John Carter Cash writes a new tribute—this time a picture book for children—to his mother June

John Carter Cash is Grammy-winning music producer. He has worked on albums by virtually everyone in the Nashville pantheon—stars like Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, and John Prine—but he’s still best known as the only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter. In 2007, Cash published a biography of his mother, Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash, and earlier this year he brought out a children’s book inspired by her, as well. He talks with Chapter 16 about his mother, his wife, his children—and his next book.

Chapter 16: Have you always written stories for your children, or is Momma Loves Her Little Son the first time you’ve tried your hand at that genre?

Cash: There have been times when I have told them stories made up from my heart, but this is my first published story.

Chapter 16: This is a book about the absolutely steadfast love of a mother for her little boy, and the book is dedicated jointly to your mother and to your wife. When you read this book to your own children, is there a story from your childhood that you think of especially?

Cash: My mother was always kind and gentle. In the book, the mother and child search out the fishes in a stream, talk to the salamanders and toads. … This reminds me of my mother. We did just that when I was young. She found great peace in communing with nature and passed this on to me.

Chapter 16: How did you come up with the title of the book?

Cash: “Momma loves her little son” was something that my mother used to say to me when I was a child. It was a way of endearing her love to me, to promise its undying strength. I wrote of this in the biography I wrote on her life, Anchored in Love. My editor, Kate Etue, suggested that I write a poem based upon her endearment. It wasn’t long after I finished my first draft that Simon & Schuster asked to publish it in book form.

Chapter 16: Momma Loves Her Little Son sounds almost like the title of a song, and the incantatory language of the book reinforces that impression. Do you have any plans to turn the book into a recording?

Cash: Actually, the song exists. My wife, Laura Cash, wrote a melody to accompany the song—and recorded it. Go to cmt.com and search my artist page. Click on “videos” to see a music video of the song, an animated version of the book.

Chapter 16: The book is lavishly illustrated by Marc Burckhardt. Were you able to give any input during the illustration process? So much of what is depicted—a mother and son sharing the natural world together, a mother and a son traveling together on an exciting airplane ride—seems to have come directly out of your own childhood.

Cash: I did give a few suggestions to Marc, but mostly the visual ideas are his. There is certainly a great deal of adventure within these pages, which is very much true to life. My parents were both great adventurers, and they instilled that spirit in me at an early age.

Chapter 16: What were the books you loved best as a child? Were there stories that you and your mother especially loved to read together?

Cash: When I was very young, the Doctor Seuss books were my very favorites. I also loved books about dinosaurs, space, and science. My mother sang to me a great deal. The stories I remember her reading to me the most were Bible stories.

Chapter 16: Any plans to write more children’s books? Or another memoir?

Cash: I will have a second children’s book out in April of 2010 titled Daddy Loves His Little Girl—another book with Marc Burckhardt. As far as another memoir, at this time no plans. I may write an autobiography some day, but I have promised myself to wait until I am at least sixty-five and am hopefully looking back over a life of sufficient purpose to share.

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