Friday, February 19, 2010

Author Interview with Diane deGroat and Shelley Rotner

Today we're sitting down to talk with Diane deGroat and Shelley Rotner, authors of Dogs Don't Brush Their Teeth! (A signed copy of this book is being offered in Feathered Quill's monthly "Win A Book" contest.  You can enter here.)

FQ: You both obviously love dogs. Do you have a dog(s)? If so, would you tell us a little about him/her?

Between the two authors, Shelley is the dog person. Sadly, her Australian Shepherd, Ginger, passed away as we were working on this book. She appears as the last dog in the book, reading in bed. Diane is a cat person, and enjoyed working with dogs via photographs.

FQ: How did you come up with the idea of showing children what dogs can and can't do? And who came up with the idea of using real dogs and adding "fake" accessories?

Diane and Shelley wanted to collaborate on a project, using Shelley's photographs and Diane's new venture into digital art. They brainstormed one night, trying to come up with a good concept for a book that included dogs. Diane was trying for a narrative story, while Shelley suggested a simple concept book. Shelley finally came up with the "Dogs do, Dog's Don't" idea, and together they created all the do-don't ideas for the book. It took a while to find just the right balance between the photography and the digital art. It finally evolved into what you see in the book.

FQ: Would you explain to our readers how you got the amazing/hysterical photos for the book?

Diane designed the dummy and engineered the flaps. Shelley followed this design, trying to get the dogs in the closest possible positions shown in the dummy. But of course a dog can't read a newspaper or brush it's teeth! So Diane used pieces from different photographs to make the dogs look like they were doing human things. It was done using Photoshop CS3 and a Wacom drawing tablet.

FQ: Where did you find the dog volunteers for your book?

Shelley met many of the dogs that appear in the book as she regularly walked Ginger around her hometown. She met dogs as she traveled with Ginger to Martha's Vineyard, MA, and even in New York City. She also has many friends who have dogs, and she is acquainted with area breeders who helped supply the puppies.

FQ: Did you have a dog that had the perfect look for the book but just wouldn't cooperate?

For the most part, all the dogs co-operated, especially if Shelley used food bribes. The hardest part was not being able to use more dogs in the book and not having more breeds represented.

FQ: I have to ask - you have a photo of a dog, um, "doing his business." Did you have to follow him around for hours to get that shot?

Shelley followed "Lily" around with the owner until she was "ready." There's a funny video on the website where the owners talk about the experience. Lily had to hold it in until Shelly found just the right lighting for the shot!

FQ: I love the "special thanks" page at the end where you have a picture of each dog, their name and breed. How have the dogs' owners responded seeing their best friends in the book?

The dog owners were thrilled. In our culture many people consider their dog "part of the family." They were amused and very proud to have their "baby" published.

To learn more about Dogs Don't Brush Their Teeth! please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

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