As part of the "Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You To Know" Blog Tour I'm pleased to have one of the author's, Hy Conrad visiting the blog and talking about the writing process. I'd like to offer him a warm welcome to Turning the Pages and thank him for giving up the time to drop by today! Also don't forget to drop by the blog tomorrow to check out my review of "Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You To Know" by Hy Conrad!!
Hy Conrad on "The Writing Process"
The most exhilarating part of writing, for us at least, is the idea.
In this case, the idea came in the form of a title. We were watching the late evening news and commercial after commercial came on the air advertising books like “Things The FBI Doesn’t Want You to Know” and “Things the Banks Don’t Want You to Know.” There was a seemingly endless number of things we weren’t supposed to know.
I turned to Jeff and said, “Sure, what about something really useful like ‘Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know.’” And that’s how the book got started.
Like many humor books these days, this one began as a blog. We started posting on the most obvious topics: “What We Do When You’re Gone” or “Sticking My Head Out The Car Window.”
The initial idea was to keep them generic, in a sort of Everydog persona. But we soon realized that the humor was in the specifics. It was funnier if the dog had a real personality, and even funnier if we invented a variety of “dog bloggers” with radically different personalities.
For inspiration, we used Nelson and Charlie, our miniature Schnauzers, and spent a lot of time at the local dog park, mostly observing the humans, who always seemed clueless about their dogs’ behavior. If that wasn’t grist for a humor book…
A few weeks after we started, the site garnered enough attention to get a publisher calling. That’s when the fun really began.
We wound up creating eleven dogs, from tiny and obnoxious (Tinkerbell, author of “My Life in Your Purse”) to large and dumb (Axelrod, author of “The Reason I Ate the Sofa”). And we gave each dog an arc, which is a writerly term for “all the little stories add up to something.” For example, Sarge is a German Shepherd and a working dog. In each of his stories, he gets a new job and it always winds up being a disaster. By the time Sarge tells his tenth story, he has finally been adopted by a great family. But he still thinks it’s a job, and this one he doesn’t want to lose.
The blog morphed into a website called ThingsYourDog.com and it’s still up and running with new content all the time. And if you submit a question about your own dog’s behavior, one of our 11 dog experts will answer it (in a humorous way, of course).
I suppose the best way to show what the book is about is to include an excerpt. The following is from Bandana, a very bossy border collie. This is Bandana’s first excerpt, where he establishes the rules of the house.
“FOLLOW MY LEAD”]By Bandana (Border Collie)
Let me make this simple. I'm in charge of the house-from getting people up every morning to announcing the mealtimes, even reminding you to put out fresh water for the dog. Do you really think you control the kind of friends your teenage kids bring into the house after school? Really? Guess again.
I'm not sure you realize how much I do. Take, for example, the stove. It's dangerous. I know because one day I smelled something good and I put my paws up there, just to get a sniff. Instead I got burned. Conclusion? Stoves are hot. Very often you forget this. Every day I see you getting much too close. I've even seen you taking paper towels and wiping the top of it. That's why I bark at you in the kitchen. Not a lot, maybe a half hour or until I give up.
Same thing with closing the door. Ever since I was young, you've been yelling at everyone about that. (I won't name names, but apparently someone still runs out into the street and chases cars.) But every now and then you or one of the kids forgets this simple rule, usually in the evening when I'm tired and pretending to sleep.
Just last night you were in the front yard talking to the neighbor family -- with the door wide open. I had to drag myself off a pile of comfortable laundry and close the door with my own mouth. Then, just to make sure, I ran around the house, making sure all the other doors were closed too. I don't know how you got back in, but I think you learned a lesson.
Then there's the matter of the leash. Sometimes when we get to the park or the dog run, you let yourself off the leash and just roam around on your own. This is a little reckless, since one of us could easily jump a fence and start chasing cars. Sometimes I do that just to teach you not to get off the leash.
It's a lot of work, but I think I run a pretty tight house. Oh, and as for the friends I let your kids bring up to their rooms…I don't know about you, but I prefer the ones who sneak in the cigarettes and alcohol. They're cool.
About Hy Conrad:
Best known for his work in mysteries, Hy was one of the original writers for the groundbreaking series, Monk. He worked on the show for all eight seasons, the final two as Co-Executive Producer, and received three Edgar Nominations from the Mystery Writers of America for “Best TV Episode.”
In a related project, Hy was Executive Producer and head writer of Little Monk, a series of short films featuring Adrian Monk as a ten-year-old. His latest TV work was as writer and Consulting Producer for White Collar.
Hy is also the author of hundreds of short stories and ten books of short whodunits, which have been sold around the world in fourteen languages. Hy’s first full-length comedy/mystery play, Home Exchange, premiered at the Waterfront Playhouse in Key West in May 2012. And, in a different vein, he recently authored a humor book called Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know.
Hy splits his time among Key West, Vermont and New York City.
To learn more about Hy Conrad check out his website: http://www.hyconrad.com/