Curiosity… the author’s (sneaky) best friend – Sandy Rideout

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By Sandy Rideout

A few years ago, I got a puppy. No big deal, right? People do it all the time.

But I was a cat lady — never owned a dog in my life. I just wanted to shake things up after my mom’s illness and my dad’s passing. A dog would be such a comfort.

I figured managing eight pounds of fluff would be a breeze.  Yet despite my good intentions, somehow I was quickly in over my head. I loved the pup to bits, but he needed a real leader and… that wasn’t me.

Eventually, my old friend, Curiosity, came to my aid. I couldn’t be the only one struggling to raise a well-behaved modern dog. In the city dog parks, I saw plenty of canine buffoons. I would put my journalism skills to work and write about it.

I researched the heck out of the situation by reading books, diving into the internet and watching training videos until my eyes burned.

When I got an opportunity to help dog breeders write about their work, I jumped on it, ultimately interviewing more than 20.  I queried them about about rare breeds, what makes a good dog owner and even the politics of the dog world. It was fascinating!

Now on a roll, I moved on to quizzing dog trainers, dog walkers, day care providers, groomers and pet shop owners. In the dog park, I became that annoying person who asked far many too many questions.

Curiosity was having a field day, but you can probably guess where this is going as far as my creative work was concerned. I’d fallen down a dark hole of obsessive research that disguises resistance.  I had no idea what to do with all that information and I wasn’t writing what I wanted to be writing. The bender had to end.

All this time, my first love, comic women’s fiction, was trying to woo me back.  I’d built my publishing career writing chick lit for adults and teens with my long-time co-author and friend, Yvonne Collins. But we’d moved away from traditional publishing to have more options.  I didn’t know what to do with all that freedom.  When you can write anything, sometimes you write nothing.

Finally, I found my way to Dorset Hills, the best place in North America for dogs and dog-lovers, and started my “Dog Town” series.  These are heartwarming tales with lots of humor and a little mystery. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had at the keyboard. The ideas come quickly, quite possibly because of the information I dumped into the creative tank years ago. I hope all that research makes the series believable and does justice to the stories people generously shared.

As for my own pup, I finally got things right enough to add a second dog to the pack.  I get my best ideas on trail walks, where I try not to stray too far afield. Curiosity may be a writer’s best friend — but it can also be the enemy of “done.”

Sandy Rideout’s passion for pooches is hard to hide, so she doesn’t even try.  Her “Dog Town” series promises heartwarming laugh-out-loud tales, delightful characters, and small-town capers.  You can look for her on the trails in Toronto’s ravines with her dogs, Riggs and Mabel. A Match Made in Dog Town is out now.

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