We’ve all heard the adage: Write what you know. Sometimes, it’s actually good advice.
It worked for author Terry Lynn Johnson, debut author of DOGSLED DREAMS. In a crowded literary world filled with vampires, witches and snarky teens, DOGSLED DREAMS stands out from the rest because it’s so…well, different.
The book came out last month through 4RV Publishing, and Terry is here today to talk about her journey so far.
I can’t think of a lot of books on this topic, though I do remember reading Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance a few years back. What made you think about bringing this story to the children’s market?
When I went to races with my dog team, I was constantly asked the same questions by spectators. Questions about my life in general with the dogs. People are curious about the lifestyle and they want to make sure the dogs are being treated well. Especially kids! It was important to me to show how amazing it is to share your life with sled dogs. To try and portrait how strong the relationship is between a musher and her dogs. How it's that special relationship - that bond and trust, that keeps the integrity of the sport. Gary Paulsen is also a musher. His books are a joy to read.
For over ten years I had my own team. I raced, guided overnight expeditions, even went to Alaska for a winter and handled for a team running the Iditarod and worked for a dogsledding company in the Yukon. Every dog in DOGSLED DREAMS is inspired by my own real life dogs. All the names are the same, as well as some of their quirks.
Wow, that's impressive! So you know this topic very well!
I’m not exactly a city girl, but the whole dogsledding thing seems really foreign. How hard was it to make the story accessible for all readers?
At the heart of dogsledding you find universal themes. Love and trust. That is easy for anyone to relate to. I weaved in some technical information, some mushing terminology too, but hopefully in a way that a reader will understand and learn. I've had readers email me and say they now feel like an apprentice musher after reading the story. That is so wonderful to hear!
Even after finding a small publisher on your own, you were still querying agents. How surreal has it felt to sign with your dream agent and have a book come out so close together?
It has been quite a year. I feel extremely lucky.
And are you out on sub with another book through your agent? Can you tell us the pitch for that book?
My latest project: A 15-year-old musher, a boy with a secret, and a fight for survival.
Secrets and survival -- sounds like another exciting read!
Junior Musher Video Contest! And the little stuffed Huskies were too cute! How did you manage to find such creative tie-ins?
I can NOT take credit for the Junior Musher Video Contest. That was the brilliance of my publicist Kirsten Cappy of Curious City. She has awesome ideas and it seems an unlimited supply of energy. I couldn't have done it without her.
What has been the most amazing part of your journey so far?
The support from readers. Their enthusiasm and selfless assistance with promotion completely blows me away! Also, connecting with the writing community. I've made so many great friends.
Find a buddy. Or a good book!
Thanks, Terry! Stay warm with DOGSLED DREAMS. Hey, that could be your new slogan :P
DOGSLED DREAMS has been selected as a recommended read by the Iditarod Education Department. The book is available through Indiebound, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Read more about Terry and DOGSLED DREAMS:
First chapter of DOGSLED DREAMS
Terry's website: http://www.terrylynnjohnson.com/
Terry's blog: http://terrylynnjohnson.blogspot.com/