Looking for a good read? Alison Pace's latest, City Dog, is a dog lovers' delight
by Nicole Feliciano
Alison Pace's latest, City Dog (released in September 2008), is another charmer set in New York City where a dog plays a major role. This time around the girl is a newly divorced writer named Amy Dodge. Amy strikes gold with a set of children's books about her spirited West Highland Terrier named Carlie.
Run, Carlie, Run! Stars Carlie and a dashing Scottish hero, Robert Maguire. The book turns into a smash and Carlie becomes a bit of a celebrity. As Carlie hits it big, Amy comes along for the ride. Forced out of her East Village writer's den, Carlie starts interacting with the world and makes a connection with another sensitive soul.
A tentative romance blossoms. With a wonderful city and a sassy dog as strong ancillary characters, Pace has another winner on her hands.
The story's told from the point of view of three narrators: Amy, Carlie, and Robert Maguire (alas, this was the one section that seemed tedious). The plot is thoughtful and the book well crafted, but Carlie's voice is the strongest part of the novel. The musings of a westie are simply irresistible. Pace is adept at getting inside the doggie brain. Here is an example of Carlie's narration:
"I have things that I work on, that I put a lot of care and time and energy into. For example, I am systematically defringing the Oriental rug in the living room. It is long work, and it is tiring work, and also to avoid detection, it is work I must go about very slowly, under the cloak of darkness."
Yes indeed, Pace knows her character well. All in all, the writing is nuanced, witty and mature. Another winner from our favorite Doggy Lit author. PamperedPuppy.com was able to catch up with Pace and find out about her literary evolution.
Nicole Feliciano for PamperedPuppy.com: Since we last talked (August 2008) you got a dog. When did that happen?
Alison Pace: We last met when I was promoting Pug Hill. At the end of that summer I lived in a building that didn't allow dogs. I moved in my neighborhood into a dog friendly apartment.
PP: But you didn't get a pug!
AP: No, I ended up getting a Westie. I love pugs, though. I was going back and forth between a few breeds... then I found Carlie. Her show career wasn't working out and she needed a home. She's my city dog.
PP: What stole your heart away from the pugs?
AP: I wanted a dog that was more athletic in spirit. I knew that was a pipe dream with a pug. That said, Carlie does not come running with me. The little terrier legs can't keep up. But she loves to hike and get outside.
PP: Is that your baby on the cover?
AP: It is not her on the cover. It is a model westie.
AP: I know, I know. My publishers did not want to fly her to Chicago for the cover shoot. I really think Carlie should be on the cover, but flying her out wasn't a possibility. She IS in the author photo. On the actual book, there is a picture of Carlie looking over my shoulder.
PP: This fourth book. Does it get easier to write them each time?
AP: It's not that the writing gets easier. It's like you are staring over again, you are solving new problems. But you do get better at handling other things, such as criticism. Not everyone will say nice things. And you get over thinking you'll have a instant best seller.
PP: How was the process of this book different than other things you've worked on?
AP: The book before this one was Through Thick and Thin. It was a more serious book with weighty topics. It wasn't a big ball of fun.
This book was particularly enjoyable book to write. I especially relished writing from the dog point of view--it really put a spring in my step.
PP: Can you explain the devotion to 1980's music in the latest work?
AP: I spent a year listening to it non-stop. One character in the book can only communicate with song lyrics.
PP: Did you feel a connection with Amy?
AP: Amy from City dog has had a rougher time of it than I have. I am a bit more a problem solver. My characters always come across a bit more introverted and depressed than I intended. I try to be out in the world and I like to connect with it.
PP: In the book, the author and her dog get a TV show. Any dreams of TV stardom for you and Carlie?
AP: Absolutely none. I want Carlie to have great literary stardom but that's it.
PP: How about fans. Is Carlie amassing a Facebook following?
AP: Carlie has a blog on Dogster. She is not very good at maintaining it, though - she's easily distracted.
PP: Any thoughts of a children's book?
AP: I've written Run! Carlie, Run! In it Carlie goes to Scotland and meets the Lochness Monster.
PP: Do you ever suffer from writer's block?
AP: I have had creative lulls. Then I have periods where I have 100 creative ideas all at once. I never remember staring at a blank white page. Plus, I've got other things going on (Pace teaches at the MediaBistro and is a contributor to The Bark magazine). The less time you have to do something the more you get done.
PP: What are you working on now?
AP: I am writing an essay collection about writing your own happy ending. It's about life in New York with and without dogs. I'm also very excited about the new Pampered Puppy gig.