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A Writer's (and Reader's) Best Friend
BOTM authors on how their animals support (or sit on) their writing
Book of the Month
Writing or reading a novel can be a long and lonely pursuit. Fortunately a few of our BOTM authors (as well as a few BOTM team members) have all adapted a special trick for getting through the solitude'“'“the company of a furry friend! Sometimes, however, a lapdog on your laptop isn't the greatest help'¦
Read on to hear from some of our favorite authors about how Pancake, Steinbeck, Josey, and others help (or hinder) their writerly efforts.
Kayla Rae Whitaker, author of The Animators, on her cat Pancake:
"Pancake has a love/hate relationship with my work ethic: he enjoys the permalap that me sitting and writing provides for him, but he hates not being the center of my attention. I adopted him when I was in college and he spent the first year or so of his life getting passed around from girl to girl at parties: 'Oh, look at the baby!' He became accustomed to constant, lavish affection, and he's been in withdrawal ever since. His preferred method of protest is to eat what I love most - books - until they are in tatters. Doesn't matter if the book was written by his mother or not."
Sarah Pinborough, author of Behind Her Eyes, on her dog Teddy:
"Teddy has completely changed my writing life - well, my whole life! I used to work first thing in the morning in bed for a few hours before even getting dressed. Now, it's up, a cup of tea and straight down to the fields for an hour, and I've realised that there's a joy in sitting down to work with my face fresh from the cold, my 10,000 steps done by breakfast, and a contented dog dozing at my feet. At least that's what I tell myself anyway! I'm sure I worked more before I got Ted, but he's shown me there's more to life than my wordcount. (Don't tell my editor!)"
Erika Carter, author of Lucky You, on her cat Johnny:
'œWriting is very lonely. Having Johnny on my lap, or stretched out beside my computer, occasionally batting at the keys, or asleep at my feet, or scratching the screen door to come inside, then immediately wanting to go back outside, then wanting to come inside again, etc., might be the saving grace of writing a book. I think Johnny might be my best friend.'
Bryn Greenwood, author of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, on her boxers Josey and Biggie Bigs:
'œI have two boxers, Biggie Bigs and Josey, who serve the key function of making my house feel like a home. When it comes to writing, though, they frequently try to displace my laptop with a 60-lb. lapdog. I usually end up typing with one hand and petting a dog with the other.'
Janet McNally, author of Girls in the Moon, on her cats, Phoebe and Alex, and her dog, Oliver:
"In my fiction, all my protagonists have dogs (and often cats, too). In Girls in the Moon, Phoebe has a sweet mutt named Dusty Springfield. I have a hound mix named Oliver, who is twelve years old and pretty goofy. Alex (the orange cat) has the loudest purr I've ever heard and a drooling habit, too, so he's a bit of a menace to computer keyboards. My girl Phoebe (yes, she has the same name as my main character) is my constant companion when I'm writing. She just appears, curls up, and has a nap while I type. Or, if she wants to be petted, she sits and stares at me until I do. It's a tried and true method."
Maris Kreizman, BOTM editorial director:
'œI find that while I read, if Bizzy is sitting on my lap or nuzzling against my leg, my enjoyment of the book increases. I know this is wrong. Bizzy loved The Animators because I think if she had opposable thumbs she'd be a great artist.'
Lindsey Lee Johnson, author of The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, on her cat Beauregard:
"Beauregard has been with me for a decade now, and I can't imagine my writing life without him. Beau provides the kind of companionship a writer needs while working (the silent kind). He is the ultimate lap cat: cuddly, sweet, a bit needy--I believe he's always on the verge of an existential crisis. In other words, we understand each other. Beau is also a big fan of people who sit still and read; chicken-flavored Greenie treats; and Bruce Springsteen, particularly the Clarence saxophone solos."
Liberty Hardy, BOTM Judge:
"I do the majority of my reading at my desk, with Steinbeck (pictured) on his perch next to my chair, and my other cat, Millay, purring away on the radiator cover. This calming environment makes it so easy for me relax and read and focus on picking great books to recommend. My fur dragons are the perfect company, because they don't (usually) interrupt and they don't ask to borrow my books, since they can't read. Er, to the best of my knowledge."
Jenny Dwork, BOTM Head of Content:
"Pedro's favorite activity is snuggling while I read. He was found under a dumpster in downtown Boston, and now he lives in Manhattan and prefers literary fiction and West Elm blankets. He's a snob."