Genre: a dog tale/ humour
Release Date: 14th Jan 2016
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Has he chosen well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.
He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and become; either a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.
Behaviour classes were never on his wish list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.
Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams, will they ever come true?
WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK
A real 3D version of Dougal does exist. And when I first got him, he seemed so different from other dogs I’d had; running into people’s homes if they’d left their front door open, curling up on their sofa, ready to watch TV, even expecting to be offered a cup of tea. He was a lover of parties, people and life. Happy to travel on the tube, ride on escalators, or spend a day in a children’s playpark. I felt he was asking to be put in a book. But what type of book, I didn’t really know.
Initially, I thought of a picture book with captions. One particular event encouraged this idea. Dougal always refused to go into the garden alone. I was in the bath. It was pouring with rain when Dougal decided he had to go out. So there I was in the garden clutching an umbrella, draped only in a towel, hoping the puppy would hurry up and relieve himself fast. And, of course, praying my neighbours weren’t watching me through their windows.
It took a while for me to wake up to the fact I’d need art classes to achieve my aim. And would life drawing actually help me with dog cartoons? It also meant writing it as a book for children was out, unless I found an illustrator. Not an easy task. So I decided to stick with words and write it for adults. Though I still feel, a few pictures would be fun.
The book changed dramatically from the first to final draft. In the beginning, there were tedious pages about puppy training advice, separation anxiety and the fact he had lacked friends because he hung out with large dogs who hated puppies. Sounds like fun read doesn’t it? Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad. Then it started to change and turned into a story about a long-suffering dog, with issues. Here Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole was an inspiration. And Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones, too, I guess. Both the main characters in those novels have obsessions. Bridget Jones, her weight and men. Adrian Mole: acne and the whole teenage hormonal bit and of course Pandora. On top of that he’s the victim of divorcing parents!
Suddenly I saw the light. I was freed and away. Dougal, the complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No 1 fan, longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic.
The book follows his first 18 months of life, through the Olympics, Wimbledon, having the snip (hell) but not his fault, enjoying his first Christmas where he appears in a nativity play as the whole flock of Sheep, and the pain of watching Crufts on TV.
Behaviour classes were never on his wish-list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.
Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams of travelling on Virgin, will they ever come true?
ABOUT SARAH STEPHENSON
Sarah, who grew up in Bristol, now lives in South East London with two dogs, the occasional grandchild and a lot of mess. She’s had a chequered career as ballet dancer, cook, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods and actor. As an actor she worked mostly in the theatre: plays ranging from Shakespeare to improvised, both comedy and tragedy.
Cooking combines two of her passions; travel and people. She’s catered on barges in Burgundy, private houses in America, many stately homes in England, run a delicatessen, a stall in a farmer’s market and been a judge on the Great Taste Food Awards. Good opportunities for hearing about the lives of others.
Her need to write began with letters; sending home news of her adventures. At seventeen: travelling alone on the Trans-Siberian Railway and across the Sea of Japan. In Greece as a drama student, when the van blew up at the Springs of Daphne and they explored the mainland, riding on bread vans and tractors before selling their blood for a fiver and hitch-hiking home on a lorry. Or in Morocco on a solo trip, in pre-mobile phone days, when she was chucked off a bus in the desert and found herself surrounded by hundreds of camels and similar numbers of men, all in local dress.
Since then Sarah hasn’t stopped scribbling and joining the Write Place, a writing class in Dartford, encouraged her to put the contents of numerous exercise books into something more concrete.
These days Sarah chooses less adventurous holidays but might well send one of her characters off on a trek she doesn’t feel brave enough to make.
Dougal’s Diary is Sarah’s first book.
Facebook: Sarah www.facebook.com/Sarah Stephenson798
Twitter: Sarah: @SvsStephenson
Dougal : @DougalDiary
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