The Bug for Writing: Veteran pens his first book, ‘Max the Potato Beetle’

Charles Golding is a former U.S. naval officer and corporate accounting. Now, he is a children’s author. (Dennis Murphy/Contributor)

By Summer Aguirre

Becoming an author has been a longtime dream of Biltmore resident Charles Golding, and he has finally made it a reality.

A former U.S. naval officer and corporate accountant, the 65-year-old Golding recently released his first children’s book, “Max the Potato Beetle,” a vision he had since he was a teen.

Through the tale of a young boy disliking his identity as a beetle and instead wanting to be a lion, Golding addresses joy, self-love, humor and adventure — important topics today with many children struggling with mental health issues.

“One of the main things which we don’t have enough now is joy in our lives, and I think it’s really a joyful book that relays the message that you can be anything you want to be,” Golding says.

“There’s so much more to us as human beings than we could possibly imagine. We’re capable of doing so many things. So that’s kind of why he (Max) went from a very small potato beetle to a big lion — if you want to be, you can be anything you want … if you’re willing to put yourself out there and learn the lessons along the way. It’s not going to be handed to you.”

Golding wrote his freshman book with the purpose of encouraging intentional storytime with children and their parents or guardians. He says he believes that the connection established between young ones and the adults in their lives while reading together brings joy back into their day.

“I think that’s one of the reasons I actually wanted to write a fun book for 7-, 6-, 8-year-olds, because I wanted the parents to read it to them and see the parents having a good time reading it,” he says. “If the child sees the guardian or parent enjoying the book, then they’ll enjoy it even more. So, I kind of wrote it with that in mind.”

“Max the Potato Beetle” is the first book of a five-piece series that Golding has mapped out. It was illustrated by his friends in Austin, Adriana DeCarlo and Marie Lilles, who are recent graduates of a San Diego animation school.

Golding says his work is unique in that it combines a picture book and a graphic novel.

“I just did my own thing and it turned out really, really good,” he says.

Although he only recently embarked on his journey as an author, “Max the Potato Beetle” has been alive in Golding’s mind for years.

While carpooling his children and fellow neighborhood kids to their elementary school across town about 20 years ago, he used storytelling to entertain them. 

“I decided one day to say, ‘Each one of you, give me a character, any character, and I’ll tell a story about them,’” he recalls. “So, for three days a week for about three years, I told them stories about anything they wanted, so I got really good at telling stories.”

“Max the Potato Beetle” was the most memorable out of all the imaginative characters and worlds that Golding created while carpooling. It wasn’t until 2019, however, that he began putting the tale on paper.

After taking care of his father in California the last two years of his life, Golding relocated to Miami just months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He figured that with his need for a break combined with his time off, he should pursue his passion and jumped into his first writing venture.

“What I didn’t want to do is be on my deathbed and say, ‘I didn’t do this’ and ‘I didn’t do that,’” he says.

“So, if you have an idea or a creative side, develop it and just go for it, because that’s half of who we are, is our art. So, I would say if you have something, just put yourself out there and do it and even if it doesn’t turn out great, you’ll be a better person for it. At least you said you did it.”

Golding says that once one “gets the bug” for writing, it starts to grow. He plans to complete his series with Max and has several ideas for adult books in the future.

“Max the Potato Beetle”