I love what I call "talking critter" books, in which the animals are anthropomorphic. I just can't write them.
I have published two "talking critter" books.
Surprise Soup was written about little boys. Something about that manuscript inspired the art department and the illustrator to make the little boys into little bears. Changing the species of the character made it a much funnier book...but I can't take any credit for writing an anthropomorphic book. The illustrator did it for me. (Thank G. Brian Karas!)
When we traveled, we boarded our "child" at a kennel called Camp K-9, which had a cute logo of a dog toting a sleeping bag and a tennis racquet. That got my imagination going. What would dogs do at camp? I used my own experiences as a camper and a counselor to put together a day as a "doggy camper." I used a lot of dog puns and references to add humor. The other "campers" were based on the dogs in my neighborhood. That was pretty easy.
After that, I had to find some tension, a problem, that my girl dog might experience with her bunkmates. That was the hard part. I fiddled and fiddled with the story for four or five years. Finally, after many many critiques by my friends and writing group, I felt Camp K-9 was as good as it was going to get. (Fortunately, my publisher liked it.)
Will I write another "talking critter" book? I don't know. I had been inventing "Nilla adventures" in my head for ten years before I tried to write one down, and it was the most difficult thing I've ever written. Cute one-liners and puns are one thing; shaping them into a coherent story, with a beginning, middle and end. Who knows? Right now I am "inventing adventures" for my extremely ill-behaved cat, Rosie. (She's giving me the evil eye right now.) Maybe...
Don't forget to enter our latest book giveaway for Stephanie Lyons' new book, Dating Down. The deadline is midnight, May 15 2015, so don't miss out.
Posted by Mary Ann Rodman