Today’s guest post is from author Kate Jacobs. Ms. Jacobs wrote Comfort Food (my review is HERE) and The Friday Night Knitting Club. She definitely has a way with words, and this post is no exception!
Writers are readers, and I’m no exception. Indeed, I tend to acquire books at rather a fast pace – I have no impulse control when it comes to purchasing a book – and so at the end of last year I found some great-looking and really inexpensive bookcases on craigslist to deal with the chronic piles of books around the house. But guess what? That only spurred me on to fill them up! And, once again, I have stacks of books on my coffee table, and the dining table, and, of course, the requisite groaning nightstand practically buckling under my current reading load.
I do love contemporary fiction, from Ian McEwan to Kazuo Ishiguro to Alice Munro. I always buy any book that is a first novel – I’ll give anyone a try and often discover a new favorite. I just read Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and thoroughly enjoyed its whimsical nature. But, in recent months, I have come full circle and returned to the books I loved first: dog stories. I’ve enjoyed Marley and Me by John Grogan. Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote. Dog Years by Mark Doty. I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for a good dog. Like my beloved Springer Spaniel, Baxter, who raised a paw to insist he get a mention in the acknowledgments of my new book, Comfort Food. After all,he pointed out, it’s not like my feet kept themselves warm during the long hours of writing. (He had a point.) And who reminds me when it’s time to gooutside? He does.
But my love of the dog story goes waaay back. Before Baxter and even before my adored childhood Springer, Pepsi. It stretches to Barney Beagle, a fictional dog who existed in the pages of a battered old learn-to-read storybook that had once been my older brother’s. It was at least a decade old by the time I got my hands on it. But a classic is a classic. Now, Barney’s story is that of a pet store puppy waiting patiently in the hope that one day his child will come for him. It is a tale of anguish and faithfulness, repeated heartbreak and, finally, the joy of true love. Because Barney’s day does eventually arrive and he goes home with a little boy and all is happily ever after. At least until Barney Beagle Plays Baseball and makes a nuisance of himself out on the field. But – thank goodness! – all is resolved and everyone returns to being happy again. Of course, I never knew what happened after Barney’sbaseball game because I only had those two books of the series – and a recent Google search reveals there weren’t too many more Barney stories. (What? I expected to find several and have a chance to catch up on his shenanigans.)
But I’ll tell you a secret: I privately attribute much of my love of making upstories to the hours I spent imagining a different future for Barney. A world in which he went home not with a boy who came to the pet shop but with a little girl named Katy and the two went on grand adventures…And that’s how I think readers, who sometimes grow up and become writers, are made.