Q & A with Meg Kearney: TROUPER

Trouper cover, final hi rezToday I welcome Meg Kearney to Dog Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who’ve written a canine story for kids or young adults.

AOB: What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher? Genre? Targeted age group? Illustrator?

Trouper

11/1/13

picture book, ages 3 & up

illustrator: E.B. Lewis

AOB: Who is your key dog character(s) and what kind of dog is he/she? Feel free to list as many different breeds or mixes as necessary. Tell us a little more about him/her.

Trouper is a three-legged black Lab, and his story is based on my own black Lab by the same name. He has several friends who run with him (his “mob”) in the beginning of the book, before they’re picked up by a dog catcher: Hunter, Tugger, Digger, Dice, Big Bear, Sweet Girl, Curley, and Boo. They are all mix-breeds; illustrator E.B. Lewis visited his local shelter in New Jersey and used dogs there as models for the dogs in the book. He also spent a weekend at my home photographing the “real” Trouper, who is the book’s protagonist and narrator.

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

The fictional three-legged Trouper narrates his story in verse, telling his young owner about “the before time” when he “ran with a mob of mutts.” After a dogcatcher captures him and his pals and locks them in cages at the pound, Trouper’s friends are adopted one by one, until he is the only dog from his group left. Then, at last, a boy sees and falls in love with him(“My heart was a cold, starless night—/ until your face/ shone through the bars/ like a mini sun”). By the end of the book, the two are home, where life is good.

Links to reviews or blurbs.

Meg & Trouper, gardenAOB: What inspired you to write this story?

My own dog, Trouper, who is truly aptly named. When he was picked up running the streets of Ponce, Puerto Rico, his back right leg was severely injured. He was taken to a “kill shelter,” but the man who was supposed to put him down couldn’t do it—Trouper was too sweet, to gentle, even with his mangled leg. So the man called the woman who ran a local shelter; she rescued him, had the leg amputated, and nursed him back to health. He was put up for adoption in February of 2005, and was still waiting when I found him that September. People had passed him over because of his missing leg, but all one had to do was look at his face to see what a special soul he is. Now I have to believe that he was in that shelter all those months because he was waiting for me to find him. Anyway, this dog inspires everyone he meets, and I had to write a story that honored his spirit.

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

The first line! I just kept at it for months—and finally it came. All in all, the first draft took me about a year to write. And that was just the beginning!

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?

I have a middle-grade verse novel titled THE SECRET OF ME, and its sequel is a YA verse novel titled THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR. Neither features a dog character, though the third book in this “Lizzie McLane” trilogy probably will.

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

I’m working on the third book in my MG/YA verse-novel trilogy, mentioned above. The books are told in the voice of Lizzie McLane, the youngest of three adopted children. Lizzie searches for her identity, her heart, and—finally—her birthmother. The first two novels feature guides to the poems (as back-matter) as well as teacher guides, as I hope they make young people interested in writing and reading poetry, and that they help teachers with their poetry units in the classroom.

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

Jane Eyre. I’ve always been fascinated by stories about orphans and adoptees, probably because I’m adopted myself.

Meg Kearney, by Gabriel ParkerAOB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Make writing a regular practice—the more you write, the stronger your writing “muscles” will be come. But never stop reading!

AOB: Where can readers go to find out more information about you and/or your books?

Web page

Facebook: Meg Kearney

Twitter: @KearneyMeg

Thank you Meg Kearney for joining us at Dog Reads!

 

 

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