Will you tell us a little about Ellie’s Story: A Dog’s Purpose Novel and what inspired you to write it?
When I was researching search and rescue dogs for A Dog’s Purpose, I was captivated by the world of service animals who save people from danger. I knew children would love the story of Ellie! Some of the themes of A Dog’s Purpose might be too intense for young children, so Ellie’s Story is a way to introduce younger readers to this wonderful dog.
Did you find it easy or challenging to re-tell Ellie’s story for a younger audience?
Honestly the most difficult part is to stop imagining other adventures this dog could have.
Did you learn anything surprising while researching or writing Ellie’s Story?
I didn’t realize that everywhere we go we are shedding skin cells, and that a dog’s nose is so powerful that it can track these minute traces in the air and on the ground. What I learned while researching search and rescue dogs is just how powerful a dog’s nose it. This information has informed everything I write.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
There is really not an aspect I don’t enjoy. I don’t particularly care for reading what I’ve written—all I can see are ways to improve it. If I had been a sculptor, I would have kept chopping away at the marble until it was all gone.
Do you have any writing rituals?
My best writing is done after a long bike ride. I usually can work out a story problem while cycling.
What’s the first book you remember loving?
The City Boy, by Herman Wouk. I’m not sure how old I was, maybe third grade. I was burning through these books at school, and I think my parents thought if they gave me a real, full-length novel, I would stop pestering them to take me to the book store all the time. I absolutely loved it. I read it maybe ten times that year.
What’s your favorite method of procrastination?
Okay, how did you know… My biggest time waster is the internet. Facebook and email distract me in the middle of my work. Next thing I know I’m looking at puppy videos on YouTube.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on?
August 2015 will see the publication of my most ambitious work: The Dog Master, which tells the story of the first domesticated wolf—the first dog, in other words. Set in the Paleolithic era, this coming together of two struggling species occurred just as the world was entering the Ice Age. It’s a thrilling adventure and an epic tale.