Today we're talking with Walter Todd, author of My Pack: Burney the Hollywood Puppy
FQ: - Where did the idea of writing about a little shih tzu and his adventures come from? Have you written about dogs before?
TODD: The idea came after my daughter, Stacey Todd, became ill and I relocated from my residence in University Place, Washington to Los Angeles to help her during her illness. Loki is her stage name and she lived in an apartment in Hollywood with her two shi tzu dogs. Her illness affected her eyesight, so to keep busy, we decided to write books about her life with Burney.
FQ: I understand that Loki owns two shih tzus. Is that how you captured the personalities so well?
FQ: And is Burney based on one of her dogs?
TODD: Burney is the first shit tzu she owned after having had a cocker spaniel for over nine years followed by Buster a Sharpe. She had Buster for the four years before getting Burney.
FQ: Why set the story in Hollywood? What is it about the area that drew you?
TODD: Stacey (Loki) majored in theater and has been an actor and a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild for over 15 years. Writing about Burney and an actress was easy and since she lived this life. His personality makes writing about him easy.
FQ: What is it like to co-author a book? Do you meet/discuss/agree to write different parts of the story or work together on all sections? Tell our readers a little about the process.
TODD: When I relocated to Los Angeles, I rented a house in the Beverly Hills area close to the medical facilities and doctors that treated Stacey. She let her apartment go and moved in with me. We loved being co-author’s and living in the same house because I did most of the writing with her verbally providing me with the information. It was a very easy way to accomplish the co-author part of writing My Pack.
FQ: Who did the illustrations?
TODD: Ginger Triplett
FQ: The drawings are very nice and the gray tones work really well. How did you convey what you wanted to the illustrator? Did you discuss often?
TODD: The publisher put us in contact with Cheri Breeding via email and Stacey described the scene. Stacey was provided with the illustrator's drafts for approval and/or suggested changes. But for the illustration depicting the actress wearing glasses, we both were very happy with the final illustrations.
FQ: In the story Stacey takes Burney to her office. It seems that very few businesses allow this today, which is a shame. Have either of you held an office job where you were allowed to bring your dog? Did it work out well or did your dog get mischievous?
TODD: In this story, the office was either a reception area for an audition and animals were permitted, some because they were part of the audition. In another scene, the location was a film studio and pets or animals were part of a production. Stacey worked at Universal Studio’s in customs, bringing her puppy was fun but her boss advised her to stop because he could get hurt. There were many dangerous things occurring throughout the property everyday.
FQ: After a day at the beach, Stacey thought about how much joy Burney has brought to her life. Dogs are truly special; is this a message you’d like to pass along to your young readers?
TODD: Very much so and both of Stacey’s (Loki’s) dogs have been very much part of her dealing with her illness. They are loyal and loving. Comfort dogs to say the least.
FQ: Without giving the ending away, there is a move in the works for Stacey and Burney. Could this be, perhaps, a set-up for a sequel?
TODD: More sequels are planned and the next one is currently in development.