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Inspiration, the Holidays, and Me

Spencer Quinn’s It’s a Wonderful Woof presents a holiday adventure for Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in crime fiction” (Boston Globe), and his human partner, PI Bernie Little.

Spencer Quinn has joined us on the blog today to talk about what inspired this new, festive installment to the Chet & Bernie series!


What inspired me to write It’s A Wonderful Woof, the new Chet and Bernie holiday novel? I’m afraid my answer will be hidden in a thicket of digressions and caveats. For example, while it is a holiday novel, the main holiday in the story is Christmas. But there’s also a Hanukkah scene that’s one of my favorite passages in the book. Warning – be aware that the writer can never be sure of what will be a favorite passage before it’s written, and may also be mistaken even after.

Then there’s the whole issue of inspiration – where it comes from, how to make it happen, whether to trust it. And more important and also a bit chilling: is it dangerous to start exploring this territory? What if the inspiration mechanism isn’t fond of being explored, and curls up in a ball at the first sign that digging is getting near?

And what about this? Does a Christmas/Hanukkah themed novel suit the world of Chet and Bernie? Their world – for those who don’t know – is one of crime solving. Chet and Bernie are a crime solving duo out West, mostly in Arizona, if Chet has gotten that fact right. Chet, partner of Bernie, the private detective, narrates the story. Notice I didn’t say he tells the story. That’s because he’s a dog – as canine a dog as I can make him – and therefore can not talk. But as anyone who knows dogs can tell you, they have a narrative of what’s going on unspooling in their minds. That’s what’s on the page in the Chet and Bernie novels. 

Their stories – and I’m not the first to say this – have a beating heart, a spirit, an engine at the center. It’s the love between Chet and Bernie. So let’s throw some random words around, or call them key words if you like: spirit, Christmas, love, holiday, heart, Hanukkah. Presto! The theme fits the world. Like the kind of gloves that don’t need to be returned on the twenty-sixth. A solid foundation is in place. Now all that’s needed is the inspiration: Hey! How about a holiday novel with C&B?

Long bike rides are good coaxers of inspiration. So are long showers, or long swims – it’s something in the water, no doubt. Or, to take a more superficially mundane example, a call might come from an editor: “Any interest in writing a Christmas/holiday Chet and Bernie novel?” 

Bingo! Inspiration strikes again! You just have to be there.

Get your copy of It’s A Wonderful Woof—available now!

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3 thoughts on “Inspiration, the Holidays, and Me

  1. I love trying to unravel the way a writer’s mind works. Impossible, I know. But thanks for a few insights, Mr. Quinn! Chet and Bernie have brought a new level of mirth to the holidays!

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