Author Showcase: Carrie Dow Talks About Miss Moo
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: November 22, 2010
Carrie Dow is a freelance writer who has been published in several magazines including Islands, Go World Travel and International Living. A member of the Cat Writers’ Association, she currently has two animal-centric columns at Examiner.com, Lakewood Pet Examiner and International Pet Examiner.
Carrie Dow: The original idea for the character came from my silly cat. She is constantly getting into trouble, just as all kids do, yet it always ends up being so funny. So, I thought she would make a funny character. The story is about a daily occurrence at my house, Miss Moo waking me up way too early in the morning because she’s hungry. Something pet owners and parents can all relate to.
TCBR: You used your own stray cat for inspiration. In what way(s) did she inspire you?
CD: She cracks us up all the time! She is constantly getting into places she shouldn’t, knocking over things, tripping us up and otherwise making a mess. Then when we attempt to scold her, she looks at us with those big green eyes with a look that says ‘what did I do?’ and we just start laughing. What parent hasn’t seen that look before? That’s when I knew I had to write these stories down.
TCBR: Is there a message in your picture book that you want readers to grasp?
CD: I wanted kids to know that just because they can get into trouble doesn’t mean parents love them any less. I also wanted them to see their own pet’s behavior in the story too. Pets who behave badly aren’t bad pets either, just misguided, and it’s up to us to teach them.
TCBR: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
CD: How much adults enjoy the book. People have been telling me stories about their own pets. All this time I thought it was just ours, but every pet has a little ornery in them.
TCBR: Could you tell us about your collaboration with Roxanne Macke, the graphic artist who created the illustrations?
CD: We met through a mutual friend, both of us out of work at the time. We just started talking and when she told me she was a graphic artist, I told her about my story idea and we just clicked. She does a lot of design work by computer and was able to take digital photos of Miss Moo and then incorporate them into her drawings—which I thought was really cool, because I didn’t want Miss Moo to be too “cartoonish,” if that makes any sense.
TCBR: You are a member of the Cat Writers’ Association and currently have two animal-centric columns at Examiner.com, Lakewood Pet Examiner and International Pet Examiner. How does column writing differ from writing a picture book?
CD: The difference between the two is that my columns provide more instant gratification. I get feedback immediately. The writing is also much faster so there’s that fine line between “crafting a piece” and “cranking stuff out” that I like to straddle. I strive for the columns to be just as entertaining as any storybook, but when something needs to be done ASAP, that’s more challenging to me. I also enjoy the columns immensely because they allow me to shine light on some very important animal organizations that are doing great work but need a lot of help. However, Wworking on a storybook is a much slower process and it took a long time to get that feeling of being satisfied. It took over a year to complete with a lot of ups and downs so it taught me patience along the way.
TCBR: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
CD: I’ve known since 4th Grade! You know how kids take up a sport and just have that coordination, or some kids know their multiplication tables automatically? I was that way with writing.
TCBR: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
CD: Sporadic! I go on little sprees, where I write for several days and then nothing for a few days. I try to plan out my Examiner articles in advance so I can write them during the workday, but as anyone who works with time sensitive events knows, that doesn’t always happen and things crop up that I need to handle immediately or, in the case of the International column, when I’m dealing with people on the other side of the world, I write late at night. If you check the time stamp on Examiner, you’ll notice the occasional 11:30 p.m. datelines under my name.
TCBR: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
CD: I don’t know if this is a quirk, but once I start something, I write until it’s finished, even if it’s completely out of order. I believe in getting it all down first and then letting it sit and stew for a few days – or in the case of Examiner, a few hours. Then I refine and organize later. I also have to see the “whole,” meaning I know how it ends. I can’t write anything until I know where I’m going. I have to have direction. I view writing like a map and I’m on a path with a specific destination. I do take the “scenic route” on occasion, but there is a place that I’m trying to reach at the end.
TCBR: What can we expect to see from you next?
CD: Besides Examiner, I’m currently working on some travel articles for next spring and then Roxanne and I are getting ready to start Miss Moo’s next misadventure, Good Afternoon, Miss Moo, where she gets in trouble with “The Big Guy.”
TCBR: Best of luck to you, Carrie.
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