You love dogs and maybe cats and horses, too. And perhaps you love reading about them and the people who rescue, adopt and foster them as well as love romantic tales with a furry side. I just discovered an incredible book series by an amazing author, Susan Daffron is her name and our interview is below. I am starting the 8th book in her Alpine Grove series and apparently there is a 9th book and a 10th one on its way.
What I LOVE LOVE LOVE about these books, unlike other books that have pets in them, romantic comedies, is that Susan’s pets are major characters and play a BIG role in each of the stories. They are integral and integrated into the story. She writes firsthand from her knowledge about animals and it is hilarious at times, heartwarming and each of the books in the series gets better and better. What I also found wonderful is that she continues the characters stories, a little bit, in each of the books, so you feel as though you are getting to know everyone in the town of Alpine Grove. There is no such real town, but there is an Alpine, CA and much of the descriptions relate to where Susan lives in idaho.
This book is for dog lovers, cat lovers, even horse lovers. And the romance is very family friendly. In other words, the couple may kiss a little or end up in the sack but there is not a whole lot of spicy sexy details. I found some of the other books where the happy couple jump in the sack one two three, quite unrealistic and disarming. Who does that? no kinky stuff, either, just plain old normal living day to day with dogs and cats kind of thing. Very inspiring for animal lovers.
Each book can be read by itself, stands alone, but i think you will miss out if you do not read ALL of them. Now how can you not love books with names like Chez Stinky, Bark to the Future, the Art of Wag, Luck of the Paw, not to mention a book with pugilies !!!
Four paws up !!!! Cici agrees, Woof Woof Woof !!!!
How did you get started writing romantic comedy books ?
I’d written a lot of nonfiction books and my husband started writing fiction. After we published his first book, he encouraged me to give fiction writing a shot. By then, he had acquired many books about story structure and writing, so I read through a few and decided to attempt a novel of my own.
Who is your favorite romantic comedy book author ???
Janet Evanovitch (although technically she’d say her books are mysteries).
Did you plan to have a whole series ahead of time – Alpine Grove ?
I wrote the first book with the possibility of turning it into a series. If the first book hadn’t done well, I’m not sure I would have written the second. But I got enough good feedback from people that I decided to continue.
Did you write about dogs and / or romantic comedy before this series?
I wrote nonfiction books on pet care and rescue, but no fiction whatsoever.
Are the people and pets based upon pets you’ve had, people you know ?
The human characters tend to incorporate aspects of people I’ve met or know, but aren’t really based on anyone in particular. This explains how I develop my characters:
The dogs in the first book (Chez Stinky) are very loosely based on the dogs I had from 1996 – 2012. For those who are curious, this post explains which one of my dogs they are based on:
How do you begin each book? do you have the names of the characters and plot all worked out ahead of time ?
Most of my books start with an idea. Sometimes it’s something that strikes me as funny or a theme I ran across in a movie, article, or a book that I want to explore. Then I figure out the characters, flesh out the story and put a basic outline into Scrivener. After that I start writing. At about 30K words, I tend to get incredibly stuck and have to print out the outline and figure out where I’m going in more detail. Then I go back to writing.
How do you decide which dogs or cats to feature in each book?
I think about the type of dog the character might have, since certain types of people are attracted to certain types of dogs. For example, the character Sara Winston in The Treasure of the Hairy Cadre is an athlete. Before the story begins she wants a jogging buddy, so she goes to a shelter and adopts a high-energy Australian Shepherd that she names Holly. This post goes into more detail about how I create animal characters:
Do you have experience with walking dogs at a shelter or starting a nonprofit animal rescue ?
Yes. I volunteered at an animal shelter for many years and worked part time as a vet tech at a spay/neuter clinic. I didn’t start a rescue myself, but I founded an organization called the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals that provided educational resources to rescues.
Tell us about your pets
I have three dogs, who are all alumnae of rescue groups. Fiona and Tasha are Samoyeds from Samoyed rescues and Kaylee is a mix of maybe Samoyed and collie that I got from a chow rescue. (The group rescued more than chows; basically, they took anything that was extra furry.)
Do you have a favorite breed of dog or cat that you like?
I’m a fan of Samoyeds (big surprise) but I also love Golden retrievers and retriever mixes. I have a soft spot for long-haired breeds.
What is your favorite book / pet / character ?
Of my books, my favorite character is Kat, since her story carries through the entire series. So I know the most about her life and background. Of the dogs, I love Linus because he’s so sweet and Swoosie amuses me because I incorporated aspects of my dog Fiona into her character.
We talked a little bit about your geek side, how did that influence your writing these books? a few of your characters are kinda geeky… and you said you work for IBM.
I’ve been married to a programmer for a long time and worked in technology for years, starting as a technical writer. It was inevitable that I would include a few geeky people in my books. This post goes into it a bit more:
Do you have an agent, publisher or did you self-publish the books? in either case, why?
My books are published by my publishing company Logical Expressions, Inc. which has published more than just my books, so technically the corporation is a micropublisher. I was traditionally published (nonfiction) years ago and had an agent. It would take a LOT of money and unusually good contract terms to tempt me to accept a traditional publishing deal at this point. Although self-publishing is a lot of work, I have the flexibility and freedom to write the books I want to write.
Have you traveled a lot ? travel with your pets?
We’ve traveled with our pets a lot in the last few years because the current crew of dogs are great on road trips. (The prior pack was NOT.)
Any particular dog friendly places that you enjoy taking the dogs?
We live in Idaho and there are thousands upon thousands of acres of trails and forested areas to explore. The dogs love going hiking with us.
Are you an equestrian? met any real life cowboys like Clay?
I’m a pathetic horseback rider, but I do enjoy it. I don’t own horses, but I have met quite a few people involved in the equestrian world. I did some research on horse trainers and Clay is compilation of a bunch of stories I read about their lives.
Are you a dog trainer?
I only train my own dogs, which is plenty. Almost all of my dogs have been to obedience classes with varying degrees of success. Fiona got her AKC Canine Good Citizen certification, which means mostly that she likes treats a LOT so she’s easy to train. I plan to take Tasha to classes later this summer.
What inspires you about writing about dogs and cats and romance?
I like writing about the relationships people have with each other and their pets. For most people I know, pets are part of their family and often play a big role in the decisions people make. So quite a few of my books explore those ideas.
Are you working on any new books, series related to pets?