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From Hollywood producer to children’s book author

Sean Olsen with his wife Megan, daughter Lucy and son Tucker.
Sean Olsen with his wife Megan, daughter Lucy and son Tucker.
(Jennifer Faulk Photography)

Sean Olsen penned and produced ‘Beware the Cuddle Bear’

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The Covid pandemic put a crimp in many aspects of life, but it also served as a catalyst for change. People pulled their loved ones closer and found new ways to bond.

Such was the case for Sean Olsen, a Hollywood producer and writer with roots in Rancho Santa Fe. He usually works on television game show scripts and documentary plotlines, but during the lockdown Sean was inspired to create a special children’s book, Beware the Cuddle Bear. It comes complete with a decorative carrying case, rich and colorful illustrations, snuggly bear hat and paws, and a storybook with a fun and informative glossary.

Sean Olsen’s children’s book Beware the Cuddle Bear.
Sean Olsen’s children’s book Beware the Cuddle Bear.
(Jennifer Faulk Photography)

Beware the Cuddle Bear is the tale of world explorer and animal expert Sir Benedict Beaker, on an epic journey in search of the elusive but loveable Cuddle Bear. The book package is available online through Amazon and its own website, www.bewarethecuddlebear.com.

A labor of love, Sean worked on the book in secret, as a gift for his wife and kids. He wrote it, collaborated with an artist on illustrations, created its unique packaging, and had it published all on his own. His family, including his father, Rancho Santa Fe resident and author Paul Olsen, was surprised and delighted. “We had no idea he was writing a book,” Paul said. “My wife Susie and I were very impressed.”

Sean dedicated the book to his daughter Lucy, son Tucker, wife Megan, and family dog Bailey. He calls the book a “love note” to his family and he hopes other families will find joy and fun in its pages. “The intent,” he said, “is for parents and kids to connect.”

Creativity runs in the family

Like son, like father. Last year, while Sean secretly produced Beware the Cuddle Bear, Paul published his book, Phone Warriors: Exposing the Telecom Wars of the 1970s, an insider’s look at the telecommunications industry. With the release of Sean’s book, the Olsen family can claim two first-time authors in one year, from one generation to the next. Paul worked in telecom, Sean works in television, but they share a love of storytelling and a devotion to family.

Also, like his father, Sean found it difficult to find the right publisher. He pitched it to traditional children’s book publishers, but didn’t get a solid offer. While Paul eventually settled on a company he liked, Sean decided the best publisher was himself. Unwilling to compromise on production quality or change its unique features, he elected to pay for the initial print run of 600 copies. Spurred by in-person appearances and social media, sales are now on the way up. Beware the Cuddle Bear is not yet a bestseller like Paul’s book was, but its popularity is growing.

From Hollywood with love

Sean graduated from the Annenberg School of Broadcast Journalism at University of Southern California with plans to be a news reporter. But he got the show business bug and moved into producing and writing for popular series such as “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” and “Wild On.” Today he and his family live in Hermosa Beach where he continues his career in television while working on a children’s book sequel, a Christmas story also featuring Sir Benedict Beaker.

“Sean is truly so creative and fun,” said his wife, Megan. She’s a marketer for a food company and puts her skills to work to help sell and distribute Beware the Cuddle Bear. “Knowing that this book was a love letter to our kids has been really special,” she said. Daughter Lucy, who her parents call the “original cuddle bear,” said that her favorite thing about the book is that it teaches her new words. “I love the glossary at the back of the book because it explains what the big and new words mean,” she said.

Writing inspired by Seuss

When asked how his television career intersects with his children’s book writing, Sean notes that writing is a skill that improves with time and practice. The genres are different, he said, but it’s possible to write quickly and well in any style if a person is willing to put in the work. Just as he had to learn to write for the screen by studying what works, he studied Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein and others to learn what works for kids’ books.

“I looked for meter and pattern as well as for rhythm, music and alliteration in the writing,” he said. He credits Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! as a book that showed him how successful kids’ books flow and are full of humor and heart.

In Beware the Cuddle Bear, a passage in Sir Benedict Beaker’s voice offers an example of the book’s lively tone: “Shhh! HUSH NOW! The CUDDLE BEAR is right there! Should we go near? Should we explore? Do we dare? OF COURSE!” It’s catchy and rhythmic and Sean said that when it’s read aloud kids respond with smiles and laughter.

And that’s most important to the author, that families find joy and connection from his book. “Whether I sell one book or a thousand, I’ve got something to put into a time capsule, something that made my family and others happy.”


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