I am honoured and pleased to have Bobbie Pyron visit McGuffy’s Reader today. She is the author of the wonderful book “A Dog’s Way Home”. I respect Bobbie, both as an author and a person. I am sure you will, as well.
Bobbie, please tell us about yourself.
Well, I was born I Hollywood, Florida to a mother who had trained to be an opera singer and a father who loved dogs more than anything in the world (except my mother). My mother was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean when she went in to labor with me. I credit this event with my life-long desire to be a mermaid. Besides the sea, my other two great passions as a child were dogs and books. My best friends were always dogs and books, which was perfect for a very shy child wanting to be a mermaid. I never could quite figure out how to grow a tail. Instead, I went to college in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and fell in love with the high, wild places. Later, I got my Masters degree in Library Science. I’ve worked as a librarian for a long time, many of those years before anyone had ever thought of the Internet! Now, I live with my husband, three dogs, and two cats in Park City, Utah, which is 7,000 feet above sea level. I still long for the sea.
What moved you to begin writing?
From the time I was about nine years old, I could imagine nothing better than to write a book. I will admit to coming awfully close to plagiarizing some of my favorite books in an attempt to write my own when I was ten. And I did write some ghastly poetry in high school! About six years ago, I was at a point in my life and career when I could pull back a bit, work part time, and put energy in a long-held dream of writing. I started out writing picture books. I think learning the art and craft of picture book writing is invaluable to any writer! Into my second year of writing picture books, I was out walking one day with my dogs. All of a sudden a very snarky teenage girl voice started telling me about all the problems in her life. The only way I could get her to stop was to write her story! That story was eventually published as my first novel for teens, THE RING. I say now I have to write novels because it’s the only way I can get any peace and quiet from all the voices in my head demanding attention! But really, it is a dream come true.
What inspired “A Dog’s Way Home”?
Well, after I finished writing THE RING (it took me about a year to write the first draft), I put it away for a while like everyone says you’re supposed to do before you start revising. It was summer. I was hiking one day way up in the mountains with my two dogs, Teddy and Boo. Teddy is a sheltie and Boo is a coyote mix. I was watching how different they are when they’re in the woods. Teddy, true to his breed, never wants to be more than six feet from me, even when tempted by small furry things to chase. Boo, on the other paw, is always off and away hunting. She always knows where I am, but I often don’t know where she is. I started wondering what would happen if they got lost in the wilderness and had to survive on their own, individually. So I did what all writers do: I asked myself “What if?” I kept asking myself “what if” questions all afternoon. On the hike out, I started hearing this girl telling me about losing her beloved sheltie on a drive home along the Blue Ridge Parkway. She told me how no one believed she would ever see him again, but she just had to hold on to hope. By the time the dogs and I got back to the car, I had a pretty good vision of the beginning, middle and end of what would become A DOG’S WAY HOME.
I absolutely love the breed! They’re extremely smart, loyal to the point of obsession, athletic, highly trainable…I always tell people you haven’t been loved until you’ve been loved by a sheltie. I have two of them, Teddy and Sherlock. Both came from Sheltie Rescue of Utah. I adopted Teddy nine years ago when he was four. He was given up by his family when they lost their home to foreclosure. He is very dignified, mellow, and loves me more than life itself. Three years ago, I met little Sherlock at Sheltie Rescue of Utah. I really wasn’t planning on a third dog but he just stole my heart! Sherlock was a stud at a puppy mill, which are horrible places. He’d lived the first three years of his life in a tiny wire cage. When we adopted him, he had no idea what grass was, had no depth perception, and was missing about half of his teeth because of chewing on the wire cage. He has a wonderful life now! My third dog is Boo. We adopted her from a shelter about ten years ago. She was a feral street dog and very wild. When my vet first met her he said, “I have good news and bad news. My guess is she’s coyote and herding dog. She will need tons of exercise and may want to eat your cats, but she’ll also be the smartest dog you’ve ever had.” He was right. Fortunately, I’m pretty dog savvy and figured out how to train her not to eat our cats.
I understand you do rescue work. Tell us about what you do and why.
I volunteer with two different rescues: Sheltie Rescue of Utah and Friends of Animals Utah. As I said, I adopted both my sheltie-boys from SRU. I’ve also done a fair amount of fund raising for them and cajoled numerous friends into adopting a sheltie. I also help Friends of Animals with fund raising and newsletter writing. Last spring, I put together an event called “Authors Unleashed” as a fund raiser for FOA. A group of six of us who write about and are inspired by dogs talked about our books and our dogs and did a signing. Between ticket sales and donating profits of book sales to FOA, we raised a bit over $7,000.00 for FOA! As to why, well I just feel it’s the right thing to do. Plain and simple!
What challenges and motivates you?
Hmmm…good question! What challenges me is making myself sit my butt in the chair and write. I generally have the attention span of a gnat and am easily distracted. Sitting at a computer for an hour is not something I am comfortable doing. But I love telling the stories that come to me, so that’s what motivates me. Also, I have been so very fortunate to get fan mail (mostly via email) from readers weekly. Hearing a nine-year-old tell me how much they loved my book and how deeply it touched them, that’s a huge motivator!
If you had three wishes, what would they be?
Okay, this is going to sound really shallow, but my first wish would be to win a couple million dollars! That way my husband could retire and pursue his passions. And with the second million I’d set up a trust so that I could have my second wish: to help as many animal rescues as possible. My third wish would be to be able, just for a day, to be a real mermaid.
Any upcoming books?
Yes! I am so excited to be able to say my next book will be out next October. It’s titled THE DOGS OF WINTER, and is being published by Arthur A. Levine Books(Scholastic). It is a dog story, sort of. It takes place in Moscow in the mid-1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. It’s based on the true story of Ivan Mishukov, just one of many thousands of street children trying to survive any way they could Russia. The way Ivan survived for two years was by living with a pack of feral street dogs. My book is a fictionalized account of those two years.
Thank you, Bobbie. Congratulations, and much continued success. Please keep in touch!
By Bobbie Pyron
Bobbie Pyron knows dogs. She has several, volunteers with rescue, and as a librarian has read many good dog stories. Now she has written one especially for adolescents.
This story is set in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. This gives different perspectives and scenarios of both beauty and danger, to both a child and a dog.
Abby is a little girl. Tam is her very special Shetland Sheepdog. Abby is quite convinced that they are each other’s “North Star”. They are inseparable, until an accident tears them apart. Days turn into weeks full of changes and situations that they are forced to face without each other. It seems they may never be reunited. But they persevere, never giving up.
This is sure to be a classic for dog lovers. It’s a keeper!