Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bow WOW!


Peter Abrahams/Spencer Quinn and friend
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  I once read a book review in the NYTimes, which said something like “I’m afraid I won’t be able to convey how good this is.” That is how I feel about the books by Peter Abrahams. (Who also, as you’ll see, goes by Spencer Quinn.)  Maybe this’ll work:  Stephen King referred to him as "my favorite American suspense novelist". Yeah. Me and you, Stephen.
You might have read his intense original stand-alone thrillers, like The Fan, or Nerve Damage, or the Edgar-nominated Lights Out.
You might know him from his brilliant Echo Falls YA mysteries. (Yes, I am gushing, but sometimes one simply must gush.)
After those riveting and compelling thrillers, and then his smart and perceptive (and adorable) YAs, Peter Abrahams secretly turned onto someone else. With great mystery and skullduggery, he wrote, as Spencer Quinn, the first Chet and Bernie mystery, titled DOG ON IT. 
And remember when no one knew the real identity of the author? It was such a hoot when Peter was revealed as Spencer—and also as the acclaimed voice of Chet. Chet, a dog who (somehow) narrates the best-selling novels.
And now—there’s more. I am in awe. And in delight. And so happy to introduce you to Peter Abrahams/Spencer Quinn’s new voice. It’s Bowser, a goofy, engaging, determined (and bacon-loving) crime-fighting canine—who’s in league with his new girl Birdie. 
His first adventure is WOOF.  (And I say: bow WOW.)
HANK:  Sometimes, if you look at a crime fiction author's body of work, it gets darker and darker, as the writer delves into their most insidious and terrifying depths. Or something like that. Anyway, it seems like you've gone exactly the opposite direction.
PETER:That is odd, now that you mention it. What the hell is right with me? No question about the darkness, which really got going with Lights Out, my seventh book, where Eddie Nye ends up breaking back into prison. Then there’s Oblivion, where it’s pretty clear that Nick will not survive, and End of Story with that last line – “Ivy got stuck on page 109”. An entendre of the darkly double type. But humor kept bubbling up – especially noticeable in Their Wildest Dreams, I think, where I discovered how much I liked writing about the southwest.
And that led to Chet and Bernie, where this whole other side of me all of a sudden had free reign. I’d had enough of darkness!
Having said that, now that some time has passed, a somewhat darkish idea has occurred to me, and will form the basis of a new project, when I can get to it. (As for Chet and Bernie, Scents and Sensibility comes out in July.)


HANK: So WOOF is the first of we hope many books about Bowser and Birdie, dog and girl, crimefighters of the Louisiana swamp. What was the first nugget of the book? When did you think--hey! And why?

PETER: I thought – hey! – when I got a call asking if I had any interest in writing a dog-narrated mystery for middle-schoolers. Why? Because it’s so nice to be asked, in this business. But the idea of a kid and dog pair exploring together the strange and dangerous world of adult humans seemed right. Then came the bayou setting, followed by Birdie and her grandmother. Some characters do write themselves, and Grammy is one of them. She’d have taken over the whole book if I’d let her.

HANK:  And really, just cut and paste a tiny synopsis of WOOF in the next slot. You don't have to make up a brand new one, since someone probably worked pretty hard on the one you have.

PETER: There is trouble brewing in the Louisiana swamp -- Bowser can smell it. Bowser is a very handsome and only slightly slobbery dog, and he can smell lots of things. Like bacon. And rawhide chews! And the sweat on humans when they're lying.

Birdie Gaux, the girl Bowser lives with, also knows something is wrong. It's not just that her grammy's stuffed prize marlin has been stolen. It's the weird rumor that the marlin is linked to a missing treasure. It's the truck that seems to be following Birdie and the bad feeling on the back of her neck.

When Birdie and Bowser start digging into the mystery, not even Bowser's powerful sniffer can smell just how menacing the threat is. And when the danger comes straight for Birdie, Bowser knows it up to him to sic 'em.

HANK: Love it! People must ask you this all the time, and I know the answer is "imagination." But still. How do you put yourself in the mind of a dog? Bowser thinks and  narrates just like a dog. (Funny that he can type. How does he do that?)

PETER: And I can’t type. Or just barely. Two fingers, three on a good day. I’ve always been interested in the limited narrator, or limited POV (if we’re dealing with 3rd person close). In Pressure Drop, one of my very early novels (and soon to be re-released by Open Road), there are scenes from the POV of someone with locked-in syndrome.

 In fairness to Bowser, his limitations are matched by some special gifts, especially when it comes to the senses of smell and hearing; and he has some emotional gifts as well. The emotional bond – call it love – between Bowser and Birdie is the heart of the story. I prefer stories with a heart, or spirit, or something of the kind. Often absent in fiction, and not just of the crime variety.

HANK: This is a YA book--but I laughed all the way through it. Who are you writing these for? And why?

PETER: Birdie and Bowser are for kids. But also, well, why not everybody? There’s no dumbing down. True, no sex and very little seen violence, but that’s not dumb.

HANK: Your webpage that's labeled "About the book" is a letter to kids who are looking for you to write a book report. Peter/Spencer, it is hilarious. (And respectful, and helpful.) I have to think you've gotten requests to write book reports.

PETER: Oh, yes. How many times have I been asked to quickly supply the theme of Down the Rabbit Hole? I don’t have a clue! Grade F. But sometimes you get heartbreaking stuff. I believe somewhere in the Echo Falls series Ingrid’s older brother hits her. One girl emailed me about how she knew that scene very well.

HANK: Oh, gosh. That is—heart-stopping. It makes you see a whole world, you know? (And yeah, I always wondered if her brother had a steroid problem.  Hmm.) 

But at the end of that wonderful letter you say: a dog’s mindset is looking forward. But looking back a tiny bit, since part of you, at least, is human, what do you think about your writer’s journey?  Where you came from--and where you are? And sure, what's ahead?

PETER: I’m really not ready to think about this, Hank. All I know is that I’m on some sort of journey and I don’t want it to end.

HANK:  Aw. We don’t, either. Congratulations. WOOF is irresistible, and we are so happy you’re here today. So happy that we’re giving away a copy of WOOF to one lucky commenter! (US only please). Tell us your dog’s name! Or the dog you had as a kid.  Or your favorite dog. Or any doggie thing!
And Bowser will pick a winner at random. (Bacon is very effective.) 



51 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Ah, dogs are a wonderful part of life, aren't they? We've shared our lives with several over the years . . . golden labs Rex and Gina; retriever Missy; chow Susu . . . .
Bowser sounds like a dog with plenty of adventure stories to share. I'm looking forward to reading "Woof."

Kaye Barley said...

"Woof!" Oh my gosh, I'm gonna go tell Harley the Wonder Corgi about "Woof" right now! This sounds delightful and a must read for me. Wonderful post and a huge welcome to Peter Abrahams/Spencer Quinn.

FChurch said...

The cover alone would make me pick up this book! Tiger, a black lab/shepherd mutt--thought he was one of the gang--he'd collect the baseball, the mitts, and the bats in a pile, then stand over them and bark until someone came out to play ball! Or, to amuse himself, push the basketball all around yard with his nose, he'd play hide-n-seek, loved tag, loved hanging out on the couch watching Bowery Boys' reruns and eating popcorn on Saturday mornings... What a dog!

Hallie Ephron said...

Hey, Peter! WELCOME to Jungle Red! I remember being completely enchanted by Doggone It, the first Chet & Bernie book, not knowing it was you writing it (me: intrepid fan of your work up to that point) and EVEN THOUGH it was narrated by a dog. Because it was such a doggie dog.

Congratulations on the new series. It sounds like a perfect fit.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Welcome Peter--we love everything you write over here. I still don't believe that character dies...you know the one I mean. Which I guess means I'm not on the dark side of writing.

How in the world do you write all those wonderful books while typing with 2 fingers??

Gram said...

When I was a kid I got a black cocker spaniel for my 4th birthday - his name was Snafu!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

OH, Lucy, I agree.I thought--how's he gonna get out of this one??? But Peter breaks every rule--brilliantly.

We had IrishSetters, Rusty, and Penny, and ROderick St John.

And a Puli, Maggie.

And English cockers, Bailey and Barkley.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Flora--Tiger sounds hilarious!

Kaye--I can imagine you and Harley reading WOOF together. SO cute!

And Joan, it's nice to mark family history with the dogs who took part. Aw.

Deb Romano said...

I know that I MUST read the book, Peter! My imagination has no trouble accepting that pets can do whatever they want to.

When I was in high school we had a dog named Oliver. He adored the family, especially my dad, but believed that most human beings presented a threat to his humans, who were too stupid to know they were in danger and needed his "help". I still miss him decades later. Long after he died, relatives and friends told us they really hated him, and couldn't understand our devotion to him!

peter abrahams said...

Well, Lucy, typing with 2 fingers is slow, but it happens to match my train of thought. Also, at that glacial typing speed, revision happens at the same time, because why not?

Reine said...

Kendall and I will love reading this together!

Karen in Ohio said...

Peter, a family friend who was a writer for 60 years, George Laycock, wrote 53 books and countless articles as freelance, staff writer, and editor of national publications. All with two fingers. On a typewriter, until the early 90's. I was his computer "guru"--whenever he ran into computer trouble he'd call me and we'd work it out together, if we could. I guess you get pretty fast with two fingers, eventually!

My readaholic, 10-year old grandson would love Woof! And I suspect I would, too. The concept of dog as narrator sounds irresistible.

Grandma Cootie said...

Never was a dog lover. Until hubby snuck that little Pug puppy home for granddaughter's birthday. 12 years later, Pep is an old guy now - arthritis, back surgery, loss of eyesight (actually sounds like hubby) but how did we ever do without him? He and I can read "Woof" together.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Hi Peter and welcome to Jungle Reds! Your book is going to the top of the to-read pile!

When I was a kid, a friend was bitten by dog and so I developed a somewhat irrational fear of all dogs. That all turned around in London in 2000 when I met Duke, a gentle soul of a pit bull. Yes, a pit bull helped this dog-phobic learn to love dogs! He was the absolute best.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

SO funny how "dogs" are one thing...but a certain specific dog is another thing entirely. Right?

Jonathan and I would love to have a dog--but we can.t SO, we got an invisible dog, Wheatie, an (invisible) Wheaten terrier. She is very lovely and very easy to take care of.

Mark Baker said...

Bacon.

I've never owned a dog. Too many allergies. But that hasn't stopped me from enjoying them fictitiously.

Bacon.

Like in Spencer's other books.

Bacon.

(Hey, you said Bacon was highly effective, right? I want that free book.)

Libby Dodd said...

Bacon Doggie?
Only kidding.
My dog growing up was Blackie. She, literally, followed me home. She had great manners, but walked in the door, looked around, and dropped all but the essentials. She even climbed mt apple tree.

Anonymous said...

Hank - my husband still wears a blazer with Roderick St. John tag :-)

Spence - thank you for being all about "why not?"

Best wishes to all the Reds. Love your books and the blog.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Mark! You are so devious! xo But you are right, the book is terrific.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Libby? Climbed a TREE? Going after a squirrel, no doubt.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Anonymous, who are you??? From Indianapolis, too? I have never met anyone else who remembers!

B J English said...

I got an English Cocker Spaniel after college. She was a blonde cocker. I always love Lady and the Tramp so when I did her AKC paperwork I officially named her Lady Heather MacArthur.

Pat D said...

Oh dogs. Can't live without them. My current beau is Boo, short for Boolie, not Boudreaux as son and husband claim. I'm sure you remember Boolie was the ideal son in Driving Miss Daisy. We adopted Boo when he was 4; he is 12 now. He barks at my husband if Frank stops to give me any affection or attention. It has turned into a game with those two. If Frank gets out of bed during the night Boo will growl at him when he attempts to return. If he's awake, that is! Boo is a border terrier/mix. He has the face and coat of a border terrier, but a long body and short legs of something else.

Sarah Glass said...

Maybe this is how I can get my older boy into mysteries! Couldn't get him interested in 39 clues, but he loves dogs, so maybe that will be the hook that gets him!

Anonymous said...

Diane Hale here. Peter, how interesting that you're writing from a dog's POV. Have you heard of Roger Zelazny's Night in the Lonesome October? Written in the sole viewpoint of a dog. Back then it was genre fiction--fantasy--now you're able to cross genre lines and appeal to dog lovers of all ages.

I grew up with dogs and have enjoyed multiple breeds, from Heinz 57s to Dobermans and Rottweilers. Our pack includes a pit mix rescue, who's as sweet and loveable as they come.
Looking forward to reading your book!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, Sarah, it WILL! It's funny and cool. ANd irresistible.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Pat D-- I read somewhere that dogs can't "remember" things. What do you think about that?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Diane--that sounds fascinating! Remember Watership DOwn? And how incredibly innovative that was? And ANimal Farm, of course. And Three Bags Full.

Anonymous said...

Hank - we lived in Indy back in the day. Rod's and Glendale - always a treat.

peter abrahams said...

Hank brings up dogs and memory. A great subject and I've had fun with it vis a vis Bowser. But a writer can have fun with human memory, too! I mean the memory of human characters. As for my own memory … I forget where I was going with this.

Pat D said...

Dogs remember what dogs want to remember. When we're on a walk Boo certainly remembers where to turn to head to dog-friendly outdoor cafes!

Ellen K said...

My parents lived on base in officers' quarters during WWII, back in the days before anyone took their dogs to a vet, and all the dogs ran loose. There was a rabies epidemic when my mom was pregnant with me, and every human had to line up every day for three weeks to get a rabies vaccine injection (in the belly!) (My parents' dog could not be saved, however, nor could many of the others).

I claim that as my excuse for being totally dog crazy. I spend my days on Facebook sharing photos of dogs in urgent need of rescue. I'm on my sixth rescue dog right now, all five pounds of him. I can't imagine life without at least one dog. If I ever won the lottery, I'd open a dog rescue ranch (with a vet on staff).

But for some reason, writing about dogs never occurs to me. So I love that you do it, Peter. (Needless to say, someone as dog nutty as I am would love to read WOOF, and I'll also suggest it to my sister, who buys children's and YA books for the San Francisco Public Library.) Good luck!

AUTHOR Rebecca Jean Downey said...

My husband and I met Peter at the Tucson Book Festival last year, and had the privilege of telling him in person how much we enjoy his books. Our dog, Skye, is also a book fan, having eaten her share as a pup. And as my husband said, "She didn't even have a library card."

Ellen K said...

Just heard from my sister-- book has already been ordered by SFPL.

vwright said...

Hi. My husband and i have had dogs our whole lives. Our first dog together was a lab spaniel mix named maggie mae. We also had a greyhound named focus. Our current greyhound is named layla. We discovered chet and bernie together and used to quote bits of the books to each other. My hudband passed.away last year and i feel sad that he will miss woof and all the new chet and bernie books. I would love to win a copy of woof.

Deborah Crombie said...

Hi Peter! I'm such a Chet and Bernie fan, can't wait to read WOOF!

And thanks to Diane for reminding us of A Night in the Lonesome October. Fabulous book. Now I have to see if I can find my copy...

Dax and Jasmine (our one and two-year-old German shepherd girls) say they would like to read WOOF, too. And that they would really like to have some cool adventures. Do you think WOOF will give them ideas?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yay, EllenK! You are such a good pal. Bacon for you!

VWright..that is such a sweet story..Peter will be so touched to hear it.

Rebecca-that's hilarious. The highest accolade.Skye thinks books are BACON!

dawson said...

I'm a dual US/Canadian citizen so I hope I'm still eligible for the draw.
No dog has adopted me yet so my 2 favorite dogs are Chet the Jet, and Dorg, an Aussie dog in a frame who lives on my wall. I am anticipating reading "Woof" and having Bowser become another of my favorite dogs.

I love Spencer Quinn's lighter side. I've been carrying around "Pressure Drop" for a couple months trying to work up enough courage to read it.

peter abrahams said...

Thanks to those high-energy JRR masthead writers for having me here today. I've enjoyed it so much! Good luck to Hank and all of them with whatever they're working on now. A place like this is a great antidote to the aloneness of the writing life.

Margie Bunting said...

My parents gave me a dachshund when I was 6. Her name was Ollie (after Olive Boston, a schoolmate)Gretchen (German name, of course), von Enfield (don't know where that came from), Magrath (maiden name), cousin of Dutchess (my cousins' dog). I haven't had a dog since, but I do have a lovely cat named Sasha. Now than I'm retired, I'm thinking of volunteering with dogs at the Humane Society. As for the author, I've read all of the Chet and Bernie books and can't wait for the next. The new series sounds like a hoot as well!

Michelle F. said...

I'm a cat owner. Never had a dog. I like them in cozy mysteries, though. I like to watch family movies that have dogs in them, such as Beethoven.

Mary C. said...

My neighbor had a lovely black Lab named Onxy who would bark at my front door each day for a doggie treat.

Love Chet and Bernie - looking forward to reading WOOF!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

MArgie, I am in love with dog names. Yours are fabulous!

Mary C and MIchelle F--what nice stories! And i cannot believe dogs have no memories. There's always BACON!

Winners of todays and yesterdays prizes announced tomorrow--with a very special guest!

Kathy Reel said...

Peter, I'm looking forward to reading Woof and other Spencer Quinn books featuring our canine friends, but it will have to wait a bit. I had to have my precious Australian Cattle Dog put down today. Abbie was 15 1/2 years old, and had suddenly in the last few days become unable to walk and wasn't eating well. Today she had a horrific seizure, and there was no doubt about the course of action. I had said something here about six weeks ago that I thought we might have to put her down, but we were able to let her have a little more time.

I do think your books will be amazing to read and look forward to them. I actually have read Down the Rabbit Hole and found it to be a wonderful read.

Wookie's and Teddy's Dad said...

Great interview involving two of my most favorite authors. And thanks Hank for helping spread the word about this terrific new series from Spencer Quinn/Peter Abrahams. As for the canine in this family, it is one already known to Spence in another universe, a two year old golden retriever known as Teddy Roosevelt Ruff Rider.

Karen Blossom said...

I've read all the Chet and Bernie mysteries and introduced them to several friends who also love the characters as much as I. Looking forward to reading "Woof".

Nancy said...

Our first family dog when I was a kid was named Poochie. He followed me home and I accidently let him in the house. Honest! He was very sweet. Through the years we've had other great dogs. Now we have Patrick,my son's dog who is named after Pat Metheny, the musician. Patrick the dog, at four years old has enough energy for ten dogs. I love Chet and Bernie.

Ethyl Formate, AKA Thelma.SmugMug.com said...

Our current dogs are named "Sammy" and "Pudge". Pudge is an athletic 10+yr old pitbull; we've had her since she was a pup. We just got Sammy about a year ago; she's now two years old and we were her 4th home in a year. She's teachable, but not exactly a thinker. She is very pretty, though, and often reminds me of Chet. Sometimes she gets so excited she just has to let out a quick bark and then looks around like "who was that?"

Gail said...

My dogs are Chloe, a mini dachshund, and Sadie, a smallish rescue dog my vet tech calls a forest creature as she is such an unusual mix. I'm also keeping my daughter's three dogs while their house is for sale - a storm-terrified terrier and my Chloe's two very fast dachshund sisters. Oh yes, add four cats into the mix!

Gail said...

That should have said FAT sisters.