Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we talked to Regan W.H. Macaulay, about her writing and her recenetly released children’s picture book, Dog Band, a fun and vivrant story that delivers significant message about making one’s own choices, (read the review here).
Regan writes novels, short stories, children’s literature, and scripts. Writing is her passion, but she’s also a producer and director of theatre, film, and television. She is an animal enthusiast as well, which led her to become a Certified Canine (and Feline) Massage Therapist. Award-winning books for children include her picture storybooks “Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese”, “Sloth the Lazy Dragon”, “Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far”. Recent picture books include “Merry Myrrh: The Christmas Bat”, “Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast”, as well as a new edition of “Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese” and most recently, “Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana”. Coming soon — “Dog Band” and middle-grade novel “Peter Little Wing” (Book 1). Her books for adults include novelette adaptation of her feature film (available on iTunes and on DVD), “Space Zombies!” and horror/comedy novellas, “They Suck” and “Horror at Terror Creek” (Books 1 – 3 of the “Trilogy of Horrifically Half-Baked Ham”).
What inspired the premise of your book? And how do you come up with names for your characters?
The four dogs/main characters of Dog Band are all based on real dogs that have been in my life at one time or another. Ditto goes for the two cats who are also eventual members of Dog Band at the end of the book. I have had a lot of pets in my life, not only because I love animals so much, but because I’ve worked with so many in several different capacities—as a vet assistant at the Cat Doctor in Toronto, working at Pet Cuisine and Accessories, also in Toronto, as an Animal Care Specialist and Wrangler on the set of Once Upon a Hamster (Season III), and now I am a Certified Canine and Feline Massage Therapist (and Reiki Practitioner)—my mobile business is called Kuri K9 Massage.
Alfie, lead guitar, lead singer, and overall leader of Dog Band is based on a most adorable and incorrigible Maltipoo (Maltese Poodle cross), who very obviously had a big impact on my life before I was even a dog mom myself. He wasn’t my dog, but he was my friend and made a BIG and lasting impression.
Raxl, singer and “swing” player (of any instrument she likes) is based on my own pupster, the super and most wonderful Chihuahua dogger of my life! She is also kind of a mascot for Kuri K9 Massage.
Tubby, bass guitar player and sometimes singer was the sweetest little Morkie (Yorkie Maltese cross) I would often dog sit. He and Alfie and Raxl, in various combinations, would hang out at my home together making mischief and spreading the cuteness.
Ollie, percussionist extraordinaire, was a Coton de Tulear I walked (sometimes with Raxl, sometimes not) and was a Canine Massage Therapy client of mine (as were Alfie and Tubby) for many, many years. He lived in the same building and was one of the most chill dogs I’ve ever met. He was also a model for Kuri K9 Massage sometimes, and he and Raxl helped me through my All Fit Dog e-course a few years back.
The two Siamese cats at the end of the book are based on my own beloved kitties, Frodo and Sookie.
Not only were/are all these main characters real, they all knew each other! And almost all of the other animals in the books—friends who advise Alfie, Raxl, Tubby, and Ollie on what sort of music they think Dog Band should play—are also mostly based on real life pets I’ve been connected to in some way. There’s an iguana who lives at Menagerie Pet Shop in Toronto. My friend’s pet turtle Cesear is included, as well as cats and dogs belonging to other friends and Kuri K9 Massage clients. And though they don’t have the same names as the real life actors, I included a couple of the cuties I worked with from Once Upon a Hamster!
How often do you base your characters on real people?
This is actually the first time I’ve based characters on real little critters. Another of my picture books, Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast, is set in a real location—Riverdale Farm, Toronto. My up-coming picture book, Chloe the Un-feathered Parrot will feature Chloe, who is based on a real life parrot, and some rescuers, volunteers and Chloe’s adopter will also be based on real life people from The Parrot Sanctuary in Ontario.
What life experiences have shaped your writing most?
I guess in this case, but also in most cases, the animals I have met have influenced my writing the most—my children’s writing especially. So far all my books, including my up-coming middle-grade novel series, are anthropomorphic. These are the stories I loved most when I was a child, so this is why I love writing them, along with my general affinity for animals.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Be patient. I know that’s not what you do best, and you sure don’t like being patient, but it will all fall into place. No need to cause yourself anymore stress over how long things will take—it will happen when it’s meant to.
What’s next for you?
Well, Mirror World Publishing (Windsor, Ontario) is re-publishing my picture book titled Sloth the Lazy Dragon in October of this year, and at the same time, Pandamonium Publishing (Hamilton, Ontario) is re-publishing another of my picture books called Merry Myrrh the Christmas Bat! Both picture books will be sharing a virtual re-launch party in October. And I also mentioned that I have a new picture book coming out next year (published by Mirror Publishing in Alabama)—near Easter 2022—called Chloe the Un-feathered Parrot. Partial proceeds from sales of this book will go to The Parrot Sanctuary, where Chloe was sheltered before she found her forever flock. In 2023, book one of my middle-grade novel series, Peter Little Wing is being released by Pandamonium Publishing. This series follows the adventures of some captive animal characters from New Zealand, including a kiwi, a Little Blue penguin, a tuatara, and a kea.
How do you begin a book?
Every book is different. Dog Band started out as an idea for a comic book series for young adult readers—a concept which may become a future project. I decided to take the basic premise of a group of dogs playing music and strip it down to the most fundamental element: what type of music does Dog Band play? Then I thought about all the different styles of music they have in this world to choose from, or could perhaps even fuse together to make their own unique sound. I thought that having them ask their friends about their favourite kinds of music would be a good starting point for young children. This would introduce them to various styles of music, various types of musical instruments, and also different kinds of (and breeds of) pets. Music is incredibly important in everyone’s lives, and it’s an incredibly diverse artform. I think introducing as many different genres of music to kids at a young age gives them access to diverse art and diverse culture, and therefore enriches their overall educational experience.
Other books begin with a place. Like Riverdale Farm. Or New Zealand. Other books begin with a specific character. For Dog Band, that would be the four lead dogs, but especially Alfie.
How different was your life one year ago?
Not too much different, as we’ve all been living with COVID and its restrictions for over a year, now. I’m really surprised how much work I’m still able to get done, whether it’s actual writing, or the marketing/promotional/administrative end of this business. Growth is still happening, despite stay at home orders.
Categories: BookView Review Interview