In honor of the countdown to the release of my new children's chapter book, "Axel and Theo: My Dog is the Emperor of a Faraway Galaxy," today I'm answering the number one question I'm asked about the story.
Can you believe the book will be released in four days??!!
Back to answering this number one question. So, the number one question I’ve been asked so far is, “Where did the idea for a dog emperor come from?”
Well, the answer is actually kind of a complicated one.
Industry professionals have said for a long time that authors should write what they know. I learned pretty early on in my writing career that this is sound advice. Once, many moons ago, I tried to write based on a submission call from a publisher. The topic was one I knew little about and wasn’t really that interested in. The result, as you may have guessed, was totally disastrous.
Yes, to write what you know is definitely sound advice. I’m sure you know that I’ve never discovered one of my dogs was the emperor of a faraway galaxy—although, that would be epically cool.
But in a more roundabout way, I did write what I know, because animals, fantasy and adventure are actually some of my favorite things. Let’s dive a little deeper into that.
Because they’re my favorite things, of course.
I grew up in a log cabin on about eight acres of land in the country. Honestly, it was even dreamier than it sounds. We didn’t have a farm, per say, because, well, when I think of a farm, I think of a place that sustains itself with food and milk from the animals. My family didn’t make money from our animals or even produce our necessities. We had animals more for fun. And have animals, we certainly did. We had cows, goats, donkeys, horses, chickens, cats and (surprise, surprise) dogs.
My sister has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know, especially for animals. Since many of her friends lived in the city, every time they would find a stray animal, my sister brought it to its new home—ours.
I remember sitting on the porch swing, cradling our newest puppy, telling him about my day. I really think this is where I discovered the bond between a puppy and a kid. It really is a special thing. An animal doesn’t care if you’re decked out in the latest fashion or if your hair or teeth are perfect. And in my case, if your eyes shake uncontrollably. Yeah, it’s called nystagmus. Look it up—interesting stuff.
The point is that one thing I know and love is animals, and this passion is why my character, Axel, exists (in the pages of my story, at least).
You might be thinking, “Hmmm…I get the animals thing, but what about the whole emperor thing?” To that, I’d say, “Great question!”
First, my dad is awesome. I’m just going to throw that out there. As a pre-teen and teenager, I LOVED to watch The X Files with him. It was kind of our thing. The writing on that show was witty, exciting and, many times, hilarious. I was also a huge Buffy fan. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, a quick “Buffy” and “90s” search should catch you up real quick. And don’t even get me started on The Labyrinth. How can a tiny worm be so creepy and adorable at the same time?
Anyways, basically, I’m a huge science fiction-fantasy-adventure nut. Hence, much of the story of Axel and Theo takes place on a planet named Doglin in a galaxy named Thars with acid-spitting monsters, strawberry soda oceans and dog technology that is actually light-years ahead of our own.
Whew! Major mouthful there.
I bet now you can see why this story is so near and dear to my heart. It’s this wild combination of so many things that I love, and if you, your child, your students, your nieces and nephews, or just any young person you know, loves these same things that I love, I think you just might have finished your Christmas shopping.
Okay. Maybe it’s more like a dent in your Christmas shopping.
Enjoy the wild ride and I’d love to hear from you after you read it,
Amberly K. Clowe