Our Members: Author Steven Weinberg
Posted on: October 14th, 2013 by The AAC
Walk into any gym or visit any crag and you’ll notice the number of kids climbing has significantly increased. AAC member Steven Weinberg wrote and illustrated a fun children’s book called Everyone Is Climbing. We have a copy here at the office and totally dig it. Along with Steven, we hope it inspires more kids to try climbing—and not to smell their climbing shoes.
The AAC: Steven, would you like to introduce yourself?
Steven Weinberg: Sure, I’m a climber, illustrator, and writer working out of Brooklyn, NY.
The AAC: How long have you been climbing, and where is your favorite place to climb?
Steven Weinberg: I’ve been climbing since my buddy and I quit our rowing team in high school because we’d rather go climbing every day after school.
My favorite climbing spot is Red Rocks outside of Las Vegas. It’s beautiful sandstone, has a great variety of climbs, and you have the added benefit of seeing the bizarre column of light from the Luxor Casino shooting up into the night sky from behind a ridge at the campground there. It truly feels like aliens are going to land at any minute.
The AAC: What inspired you to write the children’s book Everyone is Climbing?
Steven Weinberg: I’ve spent a lot of time teaching kids to climb. It’s crazy how some kids take to the wall like they’re monkeys and then some can’t even comprehend why they’d want to leave the ground. When I was first exposed to climbing as a 10-year-old I was totally the latter—just balling once I got a few feet off the ground. So I guess I saw the book as way to get those reluctant climbers going.
The AAC: Why do you think it’s important to get kids into climbing?
Steven Weinberg: It nudges them out of their comfort zone. Tons of things can do that, but I think with climbing so much is in your head: all these decisions and check-lists all while you’re going higher and higher up. It’s a really safe way to give that kind of personal responsibility to kiddos. Oh, and it’s tons of fun to climb if you’re an 8-year-old string bean with no sense of mortality.
The AAC: Is this the first time climbing has inspired your artwork?
Steven Weinberg: Sort of. There’s so much amazing climbing photography I think I’ve always been a little intimidated to try and bring the way I make art to climbing. Something about this project seemed like a really organic bridge for all that so it is kind of the first, but hopefully not the last.
The AAC: What was the most difficult thing about writing and illustrating a children’s book?
Steven Weinberg: Really the same anguish of spending time on any kind of art and silencing those questions: Why am I doing this? Will anyone read it? Which, in a funny way, I’ve always felt like climbing helps me with. When I’m in between clips on a route and wondering if I’m too exposed. Why I’m putting my life in any kind of danger. I have to just silence all that and power through.
The AAC: Can we expect to see more children’s books or climbing inspired art in the future?
Steven Weinberg: Yes! I’m working on a children’s book with Simon & Schuster that I wrote and illustrated about T Rex who has a certain fondness for rocks that will come out in Spring 2015. It’s called REX FINDS AN EGG! EGG! EGG!
The AAC: What do you hope kiddos and their parents take away from this book?
Steven Weinberg: Push yourself sometimes. And to never ever smell your climbing shoes.
The AAC: Did you learn anything from writing this book?
Steven Weinberg: Tons. A lot of it very technical about book making and design. But I never thought I would team up with my climbing gym Brooklyn Boulders to publish a book. We have a rather unusual arrangement where they are essentially acting as the publisher for this whole project and are being amazing at it!
The AAC: Do you think kids have a different perspective on climbing these days?
Steven Weinberg: I don’t know for sure, but it seems like climbing is becoming less and less of a crazy thing to do and that’s great. And I came at climbing as kind of a rejection of team sports, but tons of kids who start climbing now are doing it through climbing teams. So I’m sure that’s different, but not at all in a bad way—except they’re probably going to experience more and more crowded crags.
The AAC: Where do you see the future of climbing going as we see more kids starting at such a young age?
Steven Weinberg: Tons of badass little rock crushers. Really. At Brooklyn Boulders I climb with the likes of Ashima Shiraishi and Sasha DiGiulian, and then all of these little kids who are training on their team to climb at that same level. It’s really intimidating. I can’t wait to turn 30 next year so I can blame getting schooled by them on being an old man.
The AAC: The kiddos in the story love their snacks! What’s your after-climbing snack of choice?
Steven Weinberg: Beer is always great, though didn’t make sense to include in this book. I mean, so are energy bars and nuts and dried fruit and stuff, but there’s something really fun about holding a cold glass of beer with shaky burning hands.
The AAC: What lessons do you think kids can learn from climbing?
Steven Weinberg: Double check your knots. Climbing is all about mitigating risk while doing something wildly dangerous. If you can figure out how to have fun doing that, you should be fine in the rest of life.
The AAC: We like your illustration of the different climbing holds found in the gym. What’s your favorite hold?
Steven Weinberg: Slopers. There’s something impossible about holding on to them sometimes.
The AAC: You’re a relatively new member of the AAC. Tell us a little bit about why you joined.
Steven Weinberg: I’ve meant to for years, but living in Brooklyn I’ve been feeling less in tune with the alpine part of climbing. For the past year though I’ve finally been getting outside a ton. It just seemed like the time.
The AAC: Where can eager parents purchase this book?
Steven Weinberg: Right now through Brooklyn Boulders here. We really want to stock the book in other climbing gyms, gear shops, really anywhere else people want to see a kids book all about rock climbing. So please if anyone reading this could help with that we’d love it!
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