Q & A with Bobbie Pyron: A DOG’S WAY HOME

ADogsWayHomeWelcome back, Bobbie!

AOB: What is the title of your dog book?

Bobbie: A Dog’s Way Home

AOB: Who is your key dog character? Tell us about him/her.

Bobbie: Tam is the name of the main dog character in my book. Tam is a Shetland Sheepdog, otherwise known as a sheltie or miniature collie. Tam loves His Girl, Abby, more than anything or anyone in the world. She is his world! Tam loves exploring the home in the mountains of North Carolina he shares with Abby. He also loves competing in agility competitions with her.

AOB: In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.

Bobbie: On their way home from an agility competition in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Abby, her mother, and Tam are in a terrible car accident. Abby and her mother are badly injured;Tam is lost. Over the next six months, Tam battles his way back to Abby over 400 miles through the mountains while Abby tries to hold on to her faith that they will be together again.

AOB: What inspired you to write this story?

Bobbie: Two things inspired me to write this story: books and dogs. I like to say A DOG’S WAY HOME is my personal love letter to all those great dog stories I loved so very much as a child—books like LASSIE COME-HOME and, of course, THE INDCREDIBLE JOURNEY. I was also inspired to write this book because of my love for and relationship with my dogs, particularly my shelties. One day I was way up in the mountains hiking with two of my dogs, Teddy (a sheltie) and Boo (a coyote mix). I was so struck by how Teddy stuck so very close to me, even though he wanted to go off exploring with Boo who is always off hunting. I started asking myself the one question every writer lives by: “What if?” What if Teddy and I were separated? And what if Teddy had to survive on his own here in the mountains. And what if… on and on. By the time I got back to the trailhead, I had a pretty good idea of what would become A DOG’S WAY HOME.

AOB: What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?

Bobbie: I think the biggest challenge I had was sticking with my gut feeling of how to tell the story. My book is written from two different points of view in alternating chapters. Abby’s chapters are in first person. Tam’s chapters are in what I call intimate third person. I didn’t want to write a “talking dog” story! But I was told by many editors, agents, and workshop participants that you just “can’t” write a book for kids that way. So many times when I despaired of every finding a home for this book I wondered if I should change it. But my gut kept telling me this way the way the story was meant to be told. I wasn’t willing to compromise on that point.

Me and Ted close up

AOB: What other YA/MG books have you written? Do any of them feature a key dog character? If so, which ones? What are these stories about?

Bobbie: My first book, which was published in the fall of 2009, is a teen novel, THE RING. Although the book is not a dog story, there are two very charming dogs in the story! THE RING is about 15-year-old Mardie and her struggles with believing in herself. She finds her strength and her place in the world through the unlikely arena of the boxing ring. I’m very excited that, for the first time ever, women’s amateur boxing will be an official Olympic event in the next summer Olympics!

AOB: What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it about a dog? If so, what is it about?

Bobbie: Yes! I have a book coming out in October 2012 called THE DOGS OF WINTER. It is a much different dog story than A DOG’S WAY HOME. This book takes place in Russia in the mid 1990’s, not long after the fall of the Soviet Union. The book is based on a true story of a young homeless boy who survived on the streets of Moscow for two years by living with a pack of feral street dogs. It’s for grades five and up and will be published by Arthur A. Levine Books(Scholastic) and is being edited by the man himself!

AOB: What else would you like us to know about you or your story?

Bobbie: I’m also a librarian and very proud of that. I love connecting readers with books. It is so rewarding to me to have written books that readers hug to their hearts and say, “Oh I just loved this book!”

AOB: Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?

Bobbie: The first book I can remember making a huge impact on me was SEASON OF PONIES by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I read that book a million and one times when I was in fourth and fifth grade. I think I was so attracted to the beautiful, heartwrenching and magical writing. Having lost my father a few years before, I could so identify with the main character’s longing for her father. Of course, not long after, I discovered LASSIE COME-HOME.

Thank you for joining us Bobbie! A Dog’s Way Home also won the Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the Merial Human Animal Bond Award given by the Dog Writer’s association of America.

 

 

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