Jackie Bouchard is the author of What the Dog Ate, a story about a woman, her dog, and her quest for happiness. Jackie dropped by the virtual offices to discuss her book. Check out what she has to say.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Jackie Bouchard] I love dogs, books, movies, laughter, silliness, fellow nerdy people, chocolate and margaritas. I don’t like mean folks or Brussels sprouts.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about What The Dog Ate?
[Jackie Bouchard] It’s about a woman (Maggie Baxter) whose world gets upended when she finds out her dog ate a pair of panties that aren’t hers. Maggie’s an overly analytical meticulous planner, and when her husband leaves her all her life plans dissolve. She’s got no Plan B, so she sets out on a quest for what I call “tail-wagging joy” using her chocolate Lab, Kona, as her guide. When she starts over-analyzing things, she asks herself: What would Kona do?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Jackie Bouchard] The concept came from an episode of “Emergency Vet” that my sister had seen. They dedicated a whole episode to things the vets had pulled out of dogs’ stomachs. That got me thinking, “What if they pulled something that was evidence of some kind of wrong-doing out of dog?” I started to wonder what that might be and how that might happen. That’s when I got the idea for the panties! As for Maggie, she’s a blend of my husband and me—she’s got his basic job/work ethic and my habit of being a total rule-follower.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?
[Jackie Bouchard] The most challenging aspect for me with this particular book was making it as funny as possible. There were parts where my agent would send notes like, “Make it funnier here.” And I’d think, “Um, okay… yeah, like that’s easy!” But I’d let stuff sort of ferment (I guess that’s the best word for it) and sometimes in the middle of the night I’d wake up with an idea of how to make something funnier. I kept pen and paper by the bed and would write using my chest as a table as I lay there in the dark. I would sometimes wake up with pen marks on my t-shirt and notes that I could barely read.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Maggie?
[Jackie Bouchard] Rule-obsessed, conscientious, and tender-hearted.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Kona would never eat?
[Jackie Bouchard] That’s a short list: the sofa (only because he knows he would get in trouble), anything metal (I actually know dogs that have eaten metallic things, silly pooches, but Kona doesn’t have a taste for that) and… gosh, that’s it. Turns out there are only two things he wouldn’t eat.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Maggie’s single most prized possession?
[Jackie Bouchard] Kona’s collar. Maggie panics a little when she allows herself to think about the fact that someday Kona won’t be there. But she’ll always have his collar, and someday when that horrible day comes when they have to be separated for a while, she’ll keep his collar next to her bed as a reminder of all the things he taught her.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Jackie Bouchard] I get ideas from lots of different places, from books/shows/movies, to nature, to the news. I like to overhear tiny snippets of strangers’ conversations and try to imagine the back story of what they’re talking about or think about what will happen next. (I guess that’s called eavesdropping…) I like to pay attention to what makes people laugh.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Jackie Bouchard] I try to jot down ideas wherever and whenever, but if I’m going to seriously sit down and write for a period of time, I need: my laptop (I’m not much of a notebook writer – I have the most awful handwriting!), almost total quiet, and an ergonomic chair. (That last one makes me sound like an old lady, but I gave myself a bummer of an overuse injury in my neck/back writing cross-legged on my sofa, literally using my laptop on my lap. So, now I try to always be at my desk!)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Jackie Bouchard] That is actually a hard question because ever since I started writing about 6 years ago, I read so much more critically now. It’s difficult to read without my writer’s hat on, so I get caught up in wondering about choices the author made or things I wish I’d written or things that bother me. But if I had to pick one, I’d say “The Help,” even though it’s been a little while since I read it. The tension she built up in the story was amazing and the characters were really well developed. I was transported enough that I think my writer’s hat actually fell off. I did wonder about that pie though… Couldn’t Hilly taste that secret ingredient? Maybe there was only a little bit… (Am I the only one that thinks of these things? Oh, and Kona would have totally eaten that pie. But that would have been bad since dogs aren’t supposed to eat chocolate!)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Jackie Bouchard] I’ve loved to read my whole life, from kindergarten on, so there were many books I loved as a kid, but the one that I distinctly remember reading as a teenager–and then emerging from this fog because I couldn’t put it down the whole day–was Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” Oh, that Mrs. Danvers! Evil, she was! Gave myself a terrible headache that day because I wouldn’t even get up to get something to drink.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Jackie Bouchard] I love to read, watch movies, hang out with my hubby, take my dog for walks at the beach, go hiking, or do other creative things like drawing on my iPad or "felting" animals (mostly dogs!) out of wool. Felting is something my sister and I recently got into. You basically take this special wool, shape it, and then stab it repeatedly with a special needle. That’s pretty much it. It’s a strange thing, but the animals come out so cute! (As long as you don’t stab your fingers and bleed on them.) Oh, I’m also very addicted to professional cycling and I get a little nutty (nuttier?) in July each year during the three weeks of the Tour de France.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Jackie Bouchard] Oh, gosh – I’m all over the place. Here’s a list:
My web site: www.jackiebouchard.com
My blog: http://poochsmooches.blogspot.com
If folks are on Goodreads and/or Shelfari, I’m on both of those as well. Just search “Jackie Bouchard.”
Hope to see you on one/all of the above! Come on over and say hi.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can order What the Dog Ate from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below