Welcome back! Its Day Two of the interview with Gina Farago, author of the werewolf story with a dog twist — Ivy Cole and the Moon (NeoDeo Press). Gina has lived with and worked with dogs for many years (she’s a certified canine massage therapist) and had just mentioned at the end of yesterday’s installment that there is a difference in books about dogs when the people really are “dog people” versus just writing a dog into a story or book.
JW: How does that make it different? There are dog stories out there. How does it make it different that its somebody who really loves dogs and has the kind of history in dogs that you have, being a certified canine massage therapist and long history in dogs? How does that make it different for you writing that and ultimately for the reader reading that book?
GF: I think a lot of people when they write, if they’re not a deeply engrained dog lover, the dog is in the story but hes a peripheral character. Hes not really important. Hes not really that much a member of the family. He is just a presence in the household. But when you truly love dogs and you write about dogs, its very clear that they are integral to a family. They are a family member. And because I’m around dogs so much and I know their behavior I can make my dog characters very realistic in the story. I think that’s something that people who aren’t dog lovers, but throw a dog in their stories, they cant capture. They don’t have that hands-on, day-to-day experience with the animal that a true dog lover has that they can pull out for their story.
JW: Whats important about capturing that real “having the hands-on”?
GF: When you’re writing a fiction novel about a werewolf, that’s way out there anyway. And my story is set in modern day. It is today. Its in a small mountain town where views are going to be very close-minded. I’m writing about such a fanciful topic, to not have as much realism in it as possible, would make my werewolf even more unbelievable. So I pack the story with all kinds of facts and realistic details to bring believability to my werewolf character.
Particularly with wolves, I actually went to a facility in Indiana. It was called Wolf Park. I went up there to work hands-on with wolves. I was doing all this textbook research but as a writer there are just elements and details that you cant get from reading a book. You have to be able to run your fingers through the fur and smell them and hear them and touch them and see with your own eyes how they act with each other. So I went to that facility in Indiana and I got to do all these things with real wolves. Including Wolf howl. That’s what I brought to my story; that particular element of realism. I had found that people who love dogs, also love wolves. Its quite a cross-over.
JW: You’re saying being at the Wolf Park really gave you more of the intensity. How did that change or add to your view or feelings of dogs?
GF: It made me see how they are so connected to their wolf ancestors. I have observed my dogs doing things that I might think that’s stalking behavior or that’s hunting behavior but then when you go to a place and see a wolf doing the exact same thing. Now one of my dogs, bear in mind, is a miniature poodle. I mean you couldn’t feel more removed from a wolf than a miniature poodle but then to go up there and see wolves doing the same behaviors that I see in my house every day; that was very exciting. You know that the dog descended from the wolf but to go up and see the wolves doing these things that you’re already familiar with in your own animals, I really loved that part!
Come back tomorrow for the next installment in this interview series with author Gina Farago!