Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery have created a story about a wonderful dog who finds the perfect human, but goes through some serious trials to stay with him (Major Brian Dennis). I dare you to keep a dry eye as you read NUBS (THE TRUE STORY OF A MUTT, A MARINE, AND A MIRACLE). Today, I ask Kirby about her latest picture book (which is already getting RAVE reviews).
Q. You've done it again Kirby - you've written a story that brought me to tears. How did you first hear about Nubs?
A. It was all thanks to Mary. We loved collaborating together on Two Bobbies and were looking for another project. She was convinced that we could find a story similar to the Bobs, but this time set in Iraq and, five minutes after she made herself a note to that effect, her husband walked out of his home office with a newspaper article about Nubs and Major Brian Dennis. He said, "I think this is a story you and Kirby would like." She called me and we got on it immediately. Since Brian was still deployed in Iraq, it took us a few months to make contact with him. But in June 2008, after he had returned home, we flew to San Diego to talk with him about the possibility of writing the book. Nubs fell in love with us -- partly in thanks to the Bow-Wow-Wonie Mary brought him -- and that sealed the deal as far as Brian was concerned.
Q. This is an unconventional picture book with all the photography and military geography. Did it present any interesting obstacles to create?
A. I doubt there is a book written that doesn't require wrestling with obstacles! ;-) The biggest challenge was that, if we had only known what Nubs had up his sleeve, we would have fitted him with a camera so that we'd know what he saw and experienced during his 70 mile trek across the desert! We had photos of every aspect of the story except the journey. The second biggest challenge was for the Little Brown art director, Patti Ann Harris, who had to work her magic to convert all of those amateur snapshots to resolutions/quality levels that could be printed in the book. We have no idea how she accomplished this huge task but we're certain it has earned her sainthood. For Mary and I, the biggest challenge was gathering both photos and the permissions to use them from Brian's team, which was dispersed after their mission.
Q. Have you met Nubs? Tell me about it!
A. We have met Nubs who is much smaller in person than you would think. He looks like a German Shepherd but he is much more petite. He's not all that much bigger than my neighbor's beagle (and certainly slimmer). Mary and I drove up to Brian's house and Nubs greeted us at the door. As I mentioned above, Mary charmed him with the doggy brownie and from that moment on, he was our buddy. He is very sweet and smart and oh-so handsome.
Q. This is a wonderful companion book to your last one, Two Bobbies. Do you plan to do more books about rescued animals?
A. We do plan on writing other books together and we know they will continue in the nonfiction vein and feature animals in some way, but perhaps not necessarily rescued animals (though, to be accurate, Nubs was as much rescuer as he was rescued!). Right now, however, I have a book deadline looming so we've put our joint work on hold for a bit.
Q. How have these stories affected you?
A. They have affected me in countless ways, but I'll share three. First, I gained a new appreciation for how animals can help us be the best we can be. Second, we receive emails every single day from people impacted by these stories -- most of them adults. I have been amazed by the way these books created with children in mind have touched readers of all ages. Third. . .well, I'll attach a photo to answer that. After 34 years of married life without a dog, we now are owned by one.
I want to thank Little Brown for making a generous donation to the ASPCA as part of their participation in this book, and Mary Nethery for being the Charlotte to my Wilbur. And I want to thank you for this chance to chat!
Thanks so much and I can't wait to tell everybody about Nubs!
Thanks again to Kirby Larson for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing, for other stops on the tour please check www.provatoevents.com.