Interview with Teri Case, author of In the Doghouse
15 Apr 2019
What can you tell us about your new release, In the Doghouse?
In the Doghouse is a fiction book about a couple’s breakup from their dog’s point of view.
Skip is a rescued dog who wants to matter. He loves living in a blissful pack with his human couple, John and Lucy, and he has bow-vowed never to lose them. But when John walks out after seven happy years, Skip and Lucy’s world is turned upside down. Skip is determined to guide Lucy through her identity crisis, but he’s guarding a secret: he’s to blame for the breakup and her broken heart. Now, with the help of a hoarder neighbor, a stray cat, and a boy with autism, Skip must build a new pack for himself and Lucy before she discovers his canine treason and kicks him to the curb.
The idea for this novel came from a Story Genius course with Lisa Cron (author of Wired for Story and Story Genius) and Jennie Nash (founder of Author Accelerator). The first assignment was to come up with a simple “What If” question. Mine was: If a dog could talk, whom would he/she choose to stay with after their owners’ breakup or divorce?
Though the book is fiction, many dog-years ago, my first long-term relationship ended. We had a thirteen-year-old dog. We couldn’t ask him whom he would like to stay with. I’ve always doubted the decision (though purely for selfish reasons because losing my dog was the hardest part of the breakup—I’m sure my dog was happy and well-loved to his dying day).
I hope I have many more books in me, but I have a feeling that Skip, who is a Timber Wolf/Labrador mix, was the most interesting character I will ever write. Furthermore, I think I can talk to dogs now.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
The hope, escape, and clarity that came from reading books is what inspired me to start writing stories at a young age. The two most memorable childhood books were Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell where wild dogs raised a young girl, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I wrote my first book when I was seven. It was about an Indian boy who all the children bullied. He comes out the victor. When I was fifteen years old, I handwrote two short stories about unrequited love (Ugh, high school angst ~1985) on college-ruled notebook paper. I tied blue yarn through the three-hole punches and mailed the stories to Seventeen Magazine. I never heard back from Seventeen Magazine.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
I’m going to choose the top five books that have influenced me, but for a variety of reasons.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, the Crossing, Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
Winter’s Bone: A Novel by Daniel Woodrell
The Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
This is a no brainer for me. Pretending to be a literary host, I should ask an author about their writing process, how they find their ideas, and more, but I’m a reader first, so I’d make it all about me and ask Cormac McCarthy why he had to write the outhouse scene that still haunts me years later. Seriously, Mr. McCarthy, why?
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is the connection with readers, and other writers, that follows publication. And I’m not talking about praise or positive reviews. I’m talking about the personal stories a reader will share via email or private messaging when a character resonates with them.
But a close second favorite in the writing process is that writing reflects where I’m at in life. When I was younger, I could never have written In the Doghouse or Tiger Drive. What I write is a compilation of life lessons, questions, and evolving world views. I could never have written what I wrote these past few years, 20 years ago. And likewise, what I wrote 20 years ago, I couldn’t write today.
What is a typical day like for you?
After breakfast, I walk four minutes to my Washington, DC, neighborhood library to write or edit for four hours until lunch. I always stop for lunch with my significant other (he makes the best popcorn), and then I go to the gym (the sedentary life of a writer is unhealthy!). After exercising, I focus on marketing and outreach for a few hours.
What scene in In the Doghouse was your favorite to write?
My favorite scene to write for In the Doghouse was the last scene, and not because I could type “The End” but because I knew the end of the book before I started writing the first chapter.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Don’t wait for someday because it doesn’t exist. Make someday, today.
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