Sunday, November 12, 2023

Interview with Author Richard Spinney


1. What inspired you to write this book? During a trip west, I met a man who had recently found a small dog that was malnourished and was very timid. I thought the story might make a good book if I added more details and pictures/illustrations.  

2. What exactly is it about and who is it written for? The story is about a dog that has escaped from an abusive owner. She is malnourished and dehydrated when found by William who is a kind and caring man. After William is advised by a veterinarian to put the dog down, William named her Emma and says "she has struggled to stay alive this long, I cannot take that away from her." He takes her home to his wife and two big dogs - a giant Alaskan malamute and a Newfoundland.      After Emma has gained her strength and self-confidence, she jumps the fence and goes on the first of several adventures knowing that she can return home without being yelled at or chained up.  The story is written from Emma's point of view. One recent reader said she felt as though she was an invisible viewer of the events that happened. Two people who read the book said they wanted more adventures and one said, "The worst part of the book was - it ended." The book was initially written for young children, but it turned out to be more for young adults and adults who were seeking a book full of kindness and believable adventures.  

3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?  I hope that readers will find the book heart-warming and full of kindness rather than the high-speed, high-stress books featuring imaginary characters with unbelievable powers.  

4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design?  The title The Adventures of EMMA basically describes what the book is about in a nutshell and the cover design shows Emma leaving for her adventure while the other two big dogs look on.  

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!?  Don't settle and don't quit. Be sure to get people who will offer their honest opinions and suggestions. At one point, one of my daughters said, "Dad, that chapter doesn't belong [in this book]. Maybe you can use it in your next book." I said there wouldn't be a second book, so I modified the chapter and sent it to her again. She offered some other advice, I made more changes and eventually, it was acceptable to both of us. The chapter was actually inserted near the middle of the book after the book had been edited by three different editors and it was being illustrated. What other author has done that?  

When I first started writing this book, it was from William's point of view. Once I got into the third chapter, I realized that would not work. How would William know where Emma went and what she encountered?  I changed it to the third person. I rewrote the first three chapters and started a fourth chapter, but I didn't like it so I laid it aside. I didn't think I would further pursue it.  

I found a book that had belonged to my mother: The Centurion by Leonard Wibberley. It was published in 1966. After reading the entire book, I read the dust cover. Basically, he wrote that he had thought about the book for ten years. Eventually, he started writing, but after three chapters he didn't like the way the book was going so he set it aside. He would write complete chapters in his mind, then discard one and add one. After about five years, he set the book to paper.  

That was where I was: after three chapters, I was stuck. I had chapters in mind, but how to get them the way I wanted. Then it hit me! Who but Emma would know where she went and what she encountered? She could relate conversations she overheard. Emma could tell the story! From there, the book pretty well wrote itself - except for the one chapter that my daughter said 'didn't fit.'  

6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?  I think eventually the adventurous, magical children’s books will wane and something else will take their place. Probably not Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys of my childhood, but things will change.  

7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book?  I honestly cannot think of any for this book. Most of the book came from my imagination. For the sequel, More Adventures of Emma, there are people who gave me examples of events that happened. A retired Deputy Sheriff, Game Warden and college instructor (all one person) gave me insight about K9s and their training, for example.  

8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to?  I think my writing style is easy-going without a lot of anger or violence. There are periods of instruction that don't come across that way; they are subtle.  I cannot think of any writers or books with which to compare my writing because I have not read that type of book.  

9. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?  If you're looking for a warm-hearted book without a lot of anger, that will leave you with a warm feeling about life in general, then this book is for you. As for the book, More Adventures of Emma, that book starts within an hour of The Adventures of Emma ending. Both books have the same number of pages, but that's where the similarity ends. The Adventures . . . has 12 illustrations and 30 photos. More Adventures . . . has no illustrations and 90 photos. More Adventures has 60% more words. In More Adventures, Emma still has her adventures and misadventures, but Kasey also takes center stage. He was previously being trained to work with a Customs agent and he was named Tobey. After that information comes to light, he is renamed Tobey and his true self comes to the surface and he has his own adventures which are still told by Emma. I have a photo of the dust cover if you wish to see it.   

About The Author: Richard Spinney grew up in Brewer, Maine, living with his widowed mother and maternal grandparents. He served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard during which he travelled from Maine, to California, Antarctica, Japan, Midway Island, Hawaii, the Aleutian Islands, downtown San Francisco, Long Island, NY and back to Maine where he retired. Richard was the treasurer of the Maine Genealogical Society for 14 years, wrote a half dozen articles for the publication The Maine Genealogist, two of which were lead articles, and ten columns for the Bangor Daily News about his volunteer transporting of injured birds - from humming birds to bald eagles - to Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine. For more information, please see:

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