Hy Conrad, has kindly agreed to guest post about his inspiration for becoming a writer in honor of his recent release, Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know: Eleven Courageous Canines Tell All.
About The Author:
Best known for his work in mysteries, Hy was one of the original writers for the groundbreaking series, Monk. He worked on the show for all eight seasons, the final two as Co-Executive Producer, and received three Edgar Nominations from the Mystery Writers of America for “Best TV Series.”In a related project, Hy was Executive Producer and head writer of Little Monk, a series of short films featuring Adrian Monk as a ten-year-old. His latest TV work was as writer and Consulting Producer for White Collar.Hy is also the author of hundreds of short stories and ten books of short whodunits, which have been sold around the world in fourteen languages. Hy’s first full-length comedy/mystery play, Home Exchange, premiered at the Waterfront Playhouse in Key West in May 2012. And, in a different vein, he recently authored a humor book called Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know.Hy splits his time among Key West, Vermont and New York City. (www.hyconrad.com)
It’s always been my theory that the things that excited you as a ten-year-old, before all the limits and temptations of life lead you astray, are your true passions. For me, those early loves included mystery books, humor and dogs.
Since then, I’ve spent most of my life writing mysteries and owning dogs. Two out of three. It wasn’t until the producers of the TV show "Monk" hired me and threw me in with a bunch of comedy writers, that I developed enough confidence to try my hand at humor.
This book began with my friend Jeff and me watching an infomercial. It could have been “Things The Banks Don’t Want You to Know.” Or “Things The Government Doesn’t Want You to Know.” At some point, one of us turned to the other and said, “Sure, how about ‘Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know.’” And that’s how it started; the title came first.
Like many humor books, this one started out as a blog. Our first posts were on the most obvious topics: “What We Do When You’re Gone” or “Sticking My Head Out The Car Window.”
The initial idea was to keep them generic, in a sort of Everydog persona. But we soon realized that the humor was in the specifics. It was funnier if the dog had a real personality, and even funnier if we invented a variety of “dog bloggers” with radically different personalities.
For inspiration, we used Nelson and Charlie, our miniature Schnauzers, and spent a lot of time at the local dog park, mostly observing the humans, who always seemed clueless about their dogs’ behavior. If that wasn’t grist for a humor book…
A few weeks after we started, the site garnered enough attention to get a publisher calling. That’s when the fun really began.
We wound up creating eleven dogs, from tiny and obnoxious (Tinkerbell, author of “My Life in Your Purse”) to large and dumb (Axelrod, author of “The Reason I Ate the Sofa”). And we gave each dog an arc, which is a writerly term for “all the little stories add up to something.” For example, Sarge is a German Shepherd and a working dog. In each of his stories, he gets a new job and it always winds up being a disaster. By the time Sarge tells his tenth story, he has finally been adopted by a great family. But he still thinks it’s a job, and this one he doesn’t want to lose.
The blog morphed into a website called ThingsYourDog.com and it’s still up and running with new content all the time. And if you submit a question about your own dog’s behavior, one of our 11 dog experts will answer it (in a humorous way, of course).
I suppose the best way to show what the book is about is to include an excerpt. The following is from Bandana, a very bossy border collie. This is Bandana’s first excerpt, where he establishes the rules of the house.
“FOLLOW MY LEAD”
By Bandana (Border Collie)
By Bandana (Border Collie)
Let me make this simple. I'm in charge of the house-from getting people up every morning to announcing the mealtimes, even reminding you to put out fresh water for the dog. Do you really think you control the kind of friends your teenage kids bring into the house after school? Really? Guess again.
I'm not sure you realize how much I do. Take, for example, the stove. It's dangerous. I know because one day I smelled something good and I put my paws up there, just to get a sniff. Instead I got burned. Conclusion? Stoves are hot. Very often you forget this. Every day I see you getting much too close. I've even seen you taking paper towels and wiping the top of it. That's why I bark at you in the kitchen. Not a lot, maybe a half hour or until I give up.
Same thing with closing the door. Ever since I was young, you've been yelling at everyone about that. (I won't name names, but apparently someone still runs out into the street and chases cars.) But every now and then you or one of the kids forgets this simple rule, usually in the evening when I'm tired and pretending to sleep.
Just last night you were in the front yard talking to the neighbor family -- with the door wide open. I had to drag myself off a pile of comfortable laundry and close the door with my own mouth. Then, just to make sure, I ran around the house, making sure all the other doors were closed too. I don't know how you got back in, but I think you learned a lesson.
Then there's the matter of the leash. Sometimes when we get to the park or the dog run, you let yourself off the leash and just roam around on your own. This is a little reckless, since one of us could easily jump a fence and start chasing cars. Sometimes I do that just to teach you not to get off the leash.
It's a lot of work, but I think I run a pretty tight house. Oh, and as for the friends I let your kids bring up to their rooms…I don't know about you, but I prefer the ones who sneak in the cigarettes and alcohol. They're cool.
Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know:
Title: Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know: Eleven Courageous Canines Tell All
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Your dog probably puzzles you. Most of us do that. And most of us would like to keep things as they are: humans in the dark, dogs with the upper hand.
But we dogs are about to let you in a little secret. Okay, a lot of secrets. We graduated first in our obedience class three times. This should tell you something. Puppies know that they're being cute. They're using you. We don't sound anything like those silly voices you use to imitate us. We hate those ridiculous names you give some of us. Moonbeam is not a dignified name for a mutt. You might want to check your herb garden for fertilizer. We are only wearing this stupid birthday hat so we can get some cake. No self-respecting dog cares about his birthday. We are not spoiled, certainly not in comparison to teenage girls. We are in charge of the house. We let you pretend that you are. We'd be lost without you. We love you.
It's all in our new book, Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You To Know, as told to humans Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson. Even Steve Martin (yes, THAT Steve Martin) raves about us Inside you'll find revelations such as the reason we at the sofa (leather tastes very similar to rawhide), and what we really think of the costumes you dress us up in.
I'm not alone. Ten other courageous canines have stepped forward to tell you what your dog won't - every last dirty, hairy bit of it. If you have dogs, love dogs, or have ever been baffled by a dog, this book is a must-have.
Find Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know: Eleven Courageous Canines Tell All Online:
Happy reading until next time!