Bobbie Pyron is the author of the teen novel, THE RING (Oct. 2009, WestSide Books) and her new book A DOG’S WAY HOME (Katherine Tegen Books, March 1, 2011). She has also worked as a librarian for over 25 years. She lives high in the mountains of Utah with her husband, three dogs, and two cats.
Tell us a little about yourself, Bobbie. How did you get your start as a writer? What made you decide to write for children?
I loved two things passionately as a child: dogs and books. So it only seemed natural that I’d want to be a writer when I grew up—probably more “natural” than wanting to be a frog or a mermaid! But I didn’t start writing seriously until about six years ago. I started out writing picture books and wrote some perfectly good ones! But then one day, this snarky teenage-girl voice started talking to me about all the trouble she was getting in to and how miserable she felt. The only way I could get her to shut up was to start writing about her. That eventually turned into my first book, THE RING.
Your first book is called THE RING, and it’s about boxing and a teenage girl who gets involved in that sport. Tell us how you came to write about that subject?
At about the time the snarky teenaged-girl voice started talking to me, my stepdaughter was going through a rather challenging time. One day, she read an article in our local newspaper about a boxing gym that offered classes just for girls. She wanted to sign up right away! Her dad and I took turns taking her to her classes. Like any good writer, I eavesdropped on the girls’ conversations. I was really struck by the camaraderie between them and how safe they felt in the ring. I was really curious to explore this world of what seems like such an aggressive sport and how it helped these girls cope better with their day-to-day lives. I was also rather dismayed by the popularity of books for that age group that were so focused on a girl’s self-worth and self-image depending on a guy (dead or not so dead). I wanted to write a book that showed the strength of girl friendships. Girl power!Bobbie – you have a brand new book due out in March called A DOG’S WAY HOME. I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this book – and as a sucker for animal stories, I’m so anxious to read it. Can you tell us what your inspiration was for this book?
I read all the of classic animals stories growing up, particularly dog stories like LASSIE COME-HOME and THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY. I must have read those books a million times! So I like to say my book is my own personal love letter to those two great classic books and to the relationship between dogs and their people. I don’t think there’s anything like it! I was also inspired by my relationship with my Shetland Sheepdog, Teddy. Shelties are a very special breed—loyal and devoted don’t even begin to describe how they bond with their person. So when I wrote a story about an eleven year old girl and her relationship with her dog, that dog had to be a sheltie.How big of a role do animals play in your life? Will you write more about animals?
Oh, my animals are my best friends! I’ve often said I don’t know if I should ever quit my day job (as a librarian) because then I would truly become The Crazy Dog Lady! I am with my “pack” every day. I love nothing better than to be out in the woods or on the trails with them hiking or skiing or show shoeing. I love watching them interact with each other and with the world. I think any book I write, even if it’s not specifically about dogs or other animals will have animals in it. For instance, in THE RING, the family has two dogs (one is a sheltie) and although they have minor roles in the book, they have very distinct personalities and provide unconditional love to the main character, Mardie, when everyone else things she’s hopeless—including herself. I think that is the rare gift of dogs.
How long does it take you to write a novel, Bobbie? Do you work from an outline, or fly by the seat of your pants and let your characters take you away?
It can take me anywhere from six to ten months to write a first draft, depending on how much editing I do as I go along and how much research I need to do. It seems like my process is evolving all the time. I am not an outliner. I definitely am more of the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type writer. I love to see how the characters evolve and who shows up! That said, I do sometimes go back and outline each chapter after I write the first draft. This allows me to see the arc of the story, and to catch any places that lack authority or a reason to be there. I call these “dead zones.” This is something my agent taught me to do and it’s really helpful.
What does your life as a writer look like? What is your schedule and do you work at writing full time?
I still work as a librarian, although just part time now. My library work schedule pretty much dictates my writing schedule. That and my dogs! They really need to get out for exercise and so do I. But, ideally, I write at least a couple of hours a day. If I’m really hot and heavy into a new manuscript, I may write a bit at night and on the weekends. But I try to limit that so I can spend time with my most patient husband. I guess I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle it all!
I noticed that you just joined Twitter, Bobbie. How important do you think social media is to authors trying to market their books? A lot, a little, not at all? Thoughts?
That’s a good question and one I’m wrestling with. I’m such a Luddite when it comes to technology, yet now I find myself on Face Book, Twitter and I have a blog. I think FB and Twitter are good ways to network with people in the writing and publishing community. After all, I would never have met you otherwise! So in that way, it helps get the word out about me and my books. But I’m not real comfortable “blowing my own horn”—as a matter of fact, I’m almost phobic about it. So in that way, some of the social media can seem (to me) a bit self-serving. I guess that’s why I’m more comfortable talking about my work or my good news in context with other writers I know. Or if it also helps spread the word about how amazing dogs are. I’m also finding it a bit of a challenge to be involved in all this online stuff and still have time to write! A lot of my writer friends have the same struggle.I think in terms of connecting with readers (who are, after all, why I write) maintaining a website that has lots of information on it is what they want. Of course, mostly what they want and what I can do best for them, is write another book!
What are you working on now? Any new projects or books you can share with us?
I have a book my agent will be sending out soon that’s based on a true and very unusual survival story in Russia. Dogs do figure in it rather prominently, although it’s not a”dog story” in the same way A DOG’S WAY HOME is. I’m also working on a book—a rather fun book—set in the panhandle of Florida where I grew up that explores what it means to be “lucky”. So keep your eye on me!
And finally, from one animal lover to another – what is your favorite animal?
Oh dogs, paws down! I love horses and I do live with two cats, but dogs are my heart and soul. They truly are God spelled backwards!
Bobbie - Thank you so much for stopping by! If you'd like to know more about Bobbie Pyron and her books, visit her website at http://www.bobbiepyron.com/
And if you'd like to win a signed copy of A DOG'S WAY HOME and be one of the first to read this great dog story, here's how to enter:
- Leave a comment below telling us your favorite kind of dog.
- New and old followers of this blog get an extra entry.
- Retweet, or repost this contest for another entry (and let me know.)
Contest will run until midnight, February 28, 2011 Pacific Time when a random winner will be chosen. Make sure I have a way to contact you! Book will be shipped to U.S or Canada addresses only.
Good Luck, Everyone!