The most exhilarating part of writing, for us at least, is the idea.
In this case, the idea came in the form of a title. We were watching the late evening news and commercial after commercial came on the air advertising books like “Things The FBI Doesn’t Want You to Know” and “Things the Banks Don’t Want You to Know.”
There was a seemingly endless number of things we weren’t supposed to know. At that point, one of us turned to the other and said, “Sure, what about something really useful like ‘Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know.’” And that’s how the book got started.
Like many humor books these days, this one began as a blog. We started posting on the most obvious topics: “What We Do When You’re Gone” or “Sticking My Head Out The Car Window.”
The initial idea was to keep them generic, in a sort of Everydog persona. But we soon realized that the humor was in the specifics. It was funnier if the dog had a real personality, and even funnier if we invented a variety of “blogging dogs”, each with a radically different personality.
For inspiration, we used Nelson and Charlie, our miniature Schnauzers, and spent a lot of time at the local dog park, mostly observing the humans, who always seemed clueless about their dogs’ behavior. If that wasn’t grist for a humor book…
A few weeks after we started, the site garnered enough attention to get a publisher calling. That’s when the fun really began.
We wound up creating eleven dogs, from tiny and obnoxious (Tinkerbell, author of “My Life in Your Purse”) to large and dumb (Axelrod, author of “The Reason I Ate the Sofa”). And we gave each dog an arc, which is a writerly term for “all the little stories add up to something.” For example, Sarge is a German Shepherd and a working dog. In each of his stories, he gets a new job and it always winds up being a disaster. By the time Sarge tells his tenth story, he has finally been adopted by a great family. But he still thinks it’s a job, and this one he doesn’t want to lose.
Our goal was to write a humor book and not one that seriously explored their world. Occasionally we were forced to do research. In the case of eating grass, we found the human experts split. Some said that dogs ate grass to promote digestion. Others said that dogs are trying to eat the smells that are on the grass and wind up making themselves sick. So we had lovable mutt Moonbeam explain both points of view – and them become distracted.
The blog morphed into a website called ThingsYourDog.com and it’s still up and running with new content all the time. And if you submit a question about your own dog’s behavior, one of our 11 dog experts will answer it (in a humorous way, of course).
Perhaps the best way to show what the book is about is to include an excerpt. The following is from Bandana, a very bossy border collie. This is Bandana’s first excerpt, where he establishes the rules of the house. Watch for Bandana's Post in the next couple of days, trust me you & your dog won't want to miss it.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
HY CONRAD Best known for his work in mysteries, Hy was one of the original writers for the groundbreaking series, Monk, working on the show for all eight seasons, the final two as Co-Executive Producer. In a related project, Hy was Executive Producer and head writer of Little Monk, a series of short films featuring Adrian Monk as a ten-year-old. His latest TV work was as writer and Consulting Producer for White Collar. Hy is also the author of hundreds of short stories and ten books of short whodunits, which have been sold around the world in fourteen languages. Hy’s first mystery novel series, Abel Adventures, will debut in 2012 with the publication of Rally ‘Round the Corpse. And his first full-length comedy/mystery play, Home Exchange, premiered at the Waterfront Playhouse in May 2012. He lives in Key West with his partner and two miniature schnauzers. (www.hyconrad.com)
JEFF JOHNSON Jeff spent most of his working life in advertising agencies, currently as General Manager of Cramer-Krasselt in New York City. He is the author of The Hourglass Solution: A Boomer’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life and co-authors (with Paula Forman) a national online advice column called Short Answers, which also appears in newspapers all along the east coast (from Massachusetts to Florida). Jeff lives in Vermont and Key West and is on the Board of Directors of the Waterfront Playhouse and the Florida Keys SPCA.