Q & A with Bobbie Pyron: THE DOGS OF WINTER


Bobbie’s book, The Dogs of Winter was also featured in World Reads, the other focus of this blog. The Dogs of Winter is unique in that it is not only set in Russia, but features a pack of feral street dogs playing a key role in the story. Check out what Bobbie had to say in her World Reads interview here.

What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher?

The Dogs of Winter, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Oct. 2012

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

The Dogs of Winter features a pack of feral street dogs who become Mishka’s family. These dogs (along with thousands of others) live wild on the streets of Moscow in Russia, and survive by begging and scrounging food and taking care of each other. The dogs in the book are Lucky, Little Mother, Grandmother, Rip, Smoke (the leader), and the puppies, Moon and Star.

In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story. After the fall of the Soviet Union in the mid 1990s thousands of children and teens found themselves abandoned to the city streets. Young Mishka survives for two years after being adopted by a pack of street dogs. The book is based on a true story!

Starred reviews/blurbs or link you wish to share:

THE DOGS OF WINTER received three starred reviews: Booklist, The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, and Kirkus. Kirkus also named THE DOGS OF WINTER to their Best Books of 2012 list!

What inspired you to write this story?

In 2005, I read a magazine article about feral children. The article opened with the story of four-year-old Ivan Mishukov, a homeless child who lived with a pack of street dogs from 1996-1998. Since I’ve always suspected I am more canine than primate, I’ve been fascinated by feral children for a long time! I was completely enthralled by Ivan’s story. I knew as soon as I read about Ivan and the dogs that I had to write a novel about them.

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

Probably the biggest challenge was finding the courage to write the story. Many times, I started writing the book, only to get overwhelmed and discouraged by what all I didn’t know. I also felt like I had no right—as an American woman who had never really wanted for anything—to write not only this child’s story but the story of homeless street children everywhere. Truly, I think what helped me overcome all the doubts and insecurities I had was experience. From the time I read about Ivan in 2005 until I wrote the book in 2011, I wrote and had published two other books. That alone gave me the confidence to go forward with Mishka’s story.

bobbiepyronWhat 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?

My first book, a teen novel The Ring (Westside Books, 2009), is not a “dog book” although there are two family dogs in the story. My second book, a middle-grade novel, A Dog’s Way Home, has two main characters: Abby, an 11-year-old girl, and her beloved Shetland Sheepdog, Tam. In A Dog’s Way Home, Abby and Tam are tragically separated because of a terrible car accident. Tam, determined to return home to “his girl”, must travel over 400 miles in winter through the Appalachian mountains. Abby must do everything she can not only to find Tam but to maintain faith that they will be reunited.

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

My next book, Lucky Strike, is not a dog story. But the mayor of the small Florida fishing town where the story takes place is a dog.

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

I have three dogs—two Shetland Sheepdogs and a coyote mix—all of whom are rescues. I am quite active in the Sheltie rescue community and with local rescue organizations.

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

The first book I can remember reading and re-reading and re-reading (when I was about nine) is Lassie Come-Home, by Eric Knight. It was the first book I’d read that truly captured that amazing, almost mystical bond between dogs and their people.

Thank you for joining us, Bobbie!

For more information about Bobbie, click here.



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