Jane Hanser Interview: Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways
Jane Hanser is the writer behind the blog www.dogsdontlookbothways.com. Her first book carries the same namesake and we got to chat with Hanser about the endearing Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways and the behind-the-scenes steps she took to create this joyful read.
The Children’s Book Review: While Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways began as a series of blog posts on www.dogsdontlookbothways.com, you always had the intention of writing a book for children about Joey’s experiences. Why did you decide to begin with blogging?
Jane Hanser: The blog was the easiest way for me to keep a narrative and photographic record of what had happened from day to day, often in the middle of the night or early morning hours. I could explore Joey’s voice and point of view that way as well, but in small snippets. I could determine whether people were connecting with Joey’s experiences and voice. They were, and some were very very emotional about it. The blog often turned into a support group with Joey as the moderator.
TCBR: The majority of your blog posts are authored by Joey himself (with your help, of course), was it easy for you to find Joey’s voice?
JH: Joey’s voice was easy. Holding back my own was more difficult.
TCBR: The title for both your blog and book were inspired by a young girl that you met in the Animal Hospital while Joey was in recovery, can you tell us a little bit about how the title came about? And have you been able to track down the little girl to tell her that she inspired your book’s title?
JH: She not only inspired the title; she cemented my determination to write the book and gave me a direction to go in. Holding onto those words and that interaction became representative of the dialogue I wanted to have with the reader(s) and the humility I had to have while writing. I’ve never tried to track the little girl down. Given the number of people there that day, and privacy laws, it would be fruitless. But let’s imagine if she ever happened to read the book, would she recognize herself? How much fun would that be!
TCBR: At what point did you decide you were ready to rewrite the blog posts into a book?
JH: The first version of the book was not much more than many blog posts strung together: As the posts were available to the public, I needed to copyright and protect everything I’d posted so far. When I printed the posts out and reviewed them as a whole, I realized they needed much work to be crafted and shaped into a book. Thus, that stage began, even though I was still adding posts to the blog, and Joey’s story, and ours with it, was continuing to occur in real life.
TCBR: How long did the process take from setting up your blog to having a completed and published book in your hands? And what would you say are the most important things you have learned from the experience?
JH: The blog was set up pretty quickly after Joey’s injury. After multiple rewrites, the book was formally published three years and nine months after that. I learned so many things from the experience: I learned about commitment to an idea, that I had tremendous strength which allowed this book to come into being, and I learned that which you describe perfectly in the penultimate paragraph of your TCBR review.
TCBR: What kind of feedback are you receiving from children that have already read Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways?
JH: They love it! They want to ask me which parts I most enjoyed writing, and they want to tell me their favorite parts.
TCBR: In the book, we learn that you and your husband read to Joey during his recovery. Have you read his own book to him? If so, would he mind telling us what he thinks about it?
JH: Great question! No, I never read it to Joey. If I tried to, Joey might lift an ear when he’d hear the words run, walk, dog, Joey, and Dad, but he’s too smart: He’d catch on right away that this was a boring reading session, not an invitation to action. On the other hand, being polite, he’d endure and allow us to continue on.
TCBR: If you could name one emotion that you feel about Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways, what would it be?
JH: When I think about the book, the emotion would be Awe – that the Creator gave my husband and me this amazing dog and gave me the inspiration, the ability, the support network, and the strength to write this book and bring it to the public. When I look at the cover, I just smile and laugh and feel such fullness inside, and think “Joey!!!”!
TCBR: What should we expect to see from you next? Any more adventures from Joey?
JH: I think Joey’s writing days are over, although I have written some short essays about Joey, and our relationship, from my human point of view. My ideas for my next book are about a much different side of life, but I think they are going to surprise me in what shape they ultimately take. Should we expect to see a dog in that book? Highly likely.
TCBR: Before we end, is there anything extra that you really want people to know about Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways?
JH: Joey also represents the spirit of adventure and discovery that is in all of us, so his story is not just for dog lovers and owners, but for all of us.
Read The Children’s Book Review‘s full review of Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways.
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