Actor's book has The Beatles beat.
WHEN actor Paul Carafotes saw The Beatles on television as a child, it blew his mind. And now his love for the Fab Four has been poured into a children's book starring his magic bubble-blowing son in a world of ants.
Paul, an American actor and director who played Harold Dyer in hit series Knots Landing, wrote his first book The Adventures of Charlie Bubbles after the birth of his half-Scouse son, Charlie.
And when it came to writing a second book about Charlie - who can blow bubbles that take him to a magical world - Paul and his son's passion for The Beatles inspired the tale of how music changed the life of the ants in the subterranean city of Smartsville.
Paul smiles: "The Beatles have been part of the fabric of my life since I was a boy. And my son's mum and grandparents are from Liverpool, so the connection continues to grow.
"I was about four years old when my brother got the record She Loves You," he remembers. "When it went on the stereo I lost my marbles. I must have played that record 1,000 times, until my mother said 'stop it'. So I took it off the record player and turned it around and played (B-side) I'll Get You.
"Then two months later they played the Ed Sullivan Show and, like everyone else in the US, I sat down and watched them. They played All My Loving and all the girls were screaming. My sisters were screaming. I thought 'this is a good job.'" ."
In the short term, the band inspired Paul to set up a "Beatles show" in his garage for his friends. But in the long term it inspired a love for the band that continues to this day.
He's proud to have met Paul, George and Ringo, as well as producer George Martin and even original drummer Pete Best while on a visit to Liverpool.
And that passion for The Beatles also fuelled his second book, Charlie Bubbles 2: Smartsville!
"I didn't know I was going to write more than the first book," said Paul.
"Then Charlie got a drum set, and started jamming to The Beatles. He loves Hard Day's Night. I never thought I'd get to the point, like my mother, where I was saying 'turn it off!' "I thought to myself 'if there's going to be a second book, what would it be? It has to have something to do with music.'.
"So I thought he could go underground and play to the ants there. There's a joylessness about the ants."
The book, illustrated by LA artist Jeff Vernon, sees Charlie save his friends from the ant city of Smartsville.
While there, Charlie sees the band The Beetles perform for the Queen. Their sound isn't quite right - there's no beat. So Charlie jumps on stage and starts playing drums and the result is "ant-dimonium" with joy ringing out.
Paul says: "Wherever Charlie goes, he meets these unlikely characters and they become friends. The books are about friendship and loyalty.
"In the first book, they help Charlie find his way home. In this book, Charlie takes the initiative and goes to help his friends."
Paul has acted alongside stars including Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Brad Pitt.
In 2006, he wrote, produced and directed short film Club Soda, starring his friend James Gandolfini. Charlie Bubbles 2 is dedicated to Gandolfini's daughter Liliana Ruth in memory of her father, who died last year.
Paul's first book was inspired by watching his baby son play with bubbles.
"When he was a baby, I'd blow bubbles to him," he smiled. "He'd try to grab them, they'd pop, he'd laugh, we'd share the moment together."
Charlie who came up with the idea for the newly-published third book in the series.
He said: "Dad, is there going to be a third book?' I was quite touched by that.
"So I said 'yes, but you're going to help me write it'. And without batting an eyelash, he said 'dad, write Charlie Bubbles to Fenway'."
That book has its own Mersey connection as Liverpool FC owner John Henry also owns the Boston Red Sox, who play at Fenway Park.
Massachusetts native Paul even got an invite to that famous stadium as a result of his latest book.
"I've been in movies and TV for 30 years," Paul says, "and I'd never been on the field at Fenway Park. I'm a huge Red Sox fan. And a children's book got me on the field at this hallowed ground. I was a little overwhelmed.
"These books have taken me to places I never thought I'd go. And it's been great bonding for Charlie and me."