Shawn Amos, a renaissance man with a variety of talents, has started a new chapter in life … well a few new chapters actually.
The Frisco resident is wrapping up a book tour for his first published work titled Cookies & Milk, which in a way, chronicles his life growing up in Los Angeles and working in his dad’s cookie store.
His dad, Wally, had a spot on Sunset Boulevard selling cookies — Famous Amos cookies, in fact, which you can find in almost all retail stores across the United States now. The book retells what life was like being the son of a cookie giant and life growing up as a child with divorced parents.
And earlier this summer, it was announced that Disney Branded Television will bring Shawn's debut novel Cookies & Milk to screen with an animated series currently in development. The project hails from Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland of Cinema Gypsy Productions (black-ish), Jesse Murphy and James Sears Bryant of Jesse James Films and Shawn Amos.
The book, Cookies and Milk, started to bake in 2010 when Shawn Amos wrote a five-part series for the Huffington Post with the same name. Years later, after moving to Frisco to be closer to his children – following a divorce – Amos started working on a book during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a very dark, unvarnished look at the tougher parts of my childhood,” he said of his initial Cookies & Milk blog. “Growing up as a child with a mother that battled mental issues and my father’s fame and that turned into a memoir. I was a little afraid to dig deeper into that stuff. The cookie store popped up as a nice memory, and I dug into that aspect of my past. It turned into a kids book for a number of reasons, but for one, I could talk to my own kids through the book.”
The main character in the book is named Ellis, after Shawn's son.
The book isn’t a full autobiography: for one, the year the cookie store opened was changed to 1976. His father, Wally, who is now battling dementia, told his son he was wrong and that it was opened in 1975. Amos knew that but moved the setting back a year to coincide with the bicentennial celebratory mood of the United States that year.
Otherwise, the book tells what it was like working for his dad, starting at the age of seven.
“The book was a big deal for me, until then, I never ran head-long into my past,” Shawn said. “I have referenced it here and there. I haven’t shied away from it but it wasn’t the lead line in the book. I was a little reluctant because I don’t want it to define me, but it doesn't. At the same time, it is part of the past that I’m proud of what he did for kids of color and families. It covers the joys of entrepreneurship, and even if my family was challenged in a way, it was me diving into that."
The book has started to gain national attention. Shawn has featured during an interview on CBS Morning, and the New York Times also wrote a piece on it. He noted that it feels like the "stage is getting bigger under my feet," but he also has some experience being in the spotlight and big stages. Prior to his dad’s cookie empire, his dad was a talent agent in Los Angeles. He calls himself a product of Hollywood but also lived in New York and Hawaii.
The exposure for the book has opened more doors for Amos, who some know as The Reverend Shawn Amos, a blues singer and harmonica player.
“Some are discovering I’m a musician and loving the book and sharing with family members,” he said. “The whole world opens up.”
Amos has been a songwriter for a number of years. He attended New York University and got his start as a screenwriter. He then moved into music and now he is a writer — a man of many creative talents.
“It is definitely the most challenging and most rewarding thing I have ever done,” he said of writing the book.
He actually has a two-book deal with his publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. His second book is set to be published next year. His first book was heavily influenced by real events, which made the words come a little bit easier. The second book, he says, is going to be more of a fiction piece.
“I’m making up a lot more stuff so that presents its own challenges,” Amos said of book No. 2.
Amos has been in Frisco for the past four years, moving to be closer to his three children, ages 21, 16 and 13.
“I’m here until my last one graduates and goes off to college,” Amos said. “I joke I have a timer set for four years from now, but we will figure it out. It is a long way from now.”
Moving to North Texas was a culture shock of sorts for the man who used to call Los Angeles and New York home. He notes there have been some challenges as the artistic community in the Dallas area isn’t the same as Los Angeles.
“I always joke that Frisco is about children and churches. There are a lot of stereotypes, and some of them are true, but this is the most racially diverse place I have ever lived,” he said. "…and I love that my kids are comfortable and safe and almost in a ‘Leave It to Beaver’ version they wouldn’t have in Los Angeles."
Amos says Frisco allows him a little bit of time to "switch off" from his usual busy life of traveling. It allows him to catch his breath to slow down a bit. He has fallen in love with traveling to the Hill Country, kayaking at Lewisville Lake or White Rock Lake or heading south to the Blanco River or going north to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a respite.
Life is a lot different in North Texas than what he grew up in and around. Shawn wants his kids to embrace it.
“I encourage them to travel, I take them with me as much as I can,” Amos said. “Whether they settle in Prosper, Frisco or McKinney, I know there is a world out there, too, and I want to give them as many opportunities to touch it as possible.”