Note to readers: The always-inspiring Deborah Kalb and I chatted about my latest, and it was one of the most enjoyable conversations of the season. Please visit ! Deborah Kalb for a wonderful variety of author Q&As. This is the no-holds-barred inside scoop on how The Twelve Dogs of Christmas turned into the waggiest book of the holidays. Don’t forget to page down for a no-fail cookie recipe.
1.What inspired you to write The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, and how did you create your character, Brenda?
SW: I’m so glad you asked! I named the main character “Brenda” in honor of a real-life dog rescue volunteer. She was fostering a litter of pups rescued from a backyard breeder in Texas, and I met her through HoundsAndHooves.org on a zoom call. During the call, Jerry and I fell in love with one of the pups and adopted him on the spot. Our beloved Dug came to his forever home with us in a transit van filled with dogs. What an exciting moment to meet Dug for the first time! Here’s the first picture I ever took of him. Jerry was so thrilled!
2. Is the community of Avalon in the novel based on a real town?
SW: Avalon, on the shores of Willow Lake in the heart of the Catskills, is completely made up! But one of the pleasures of writing fiction is that you can build the world of the story to your specifications. Avalon appears in all of the Lakeshore Chronicles books. At one point, my publisher hired an illustrator to make a map of it! Look how pretty!
3. The writer Debbie Macomber said of the book, “Don’t miss this charming Christmas tale of thawing hearts, escaping dogs, and finding home.” What do you think of that description, and what do you think the novel says about the concept of home?
SW: Well, praise from the undisputed Queen of the Christmas Novel is music to my ears. I’m so grateful that Debbie Macomber took the time to tell her readers about this book. We writers are all such avid readers, and a recommendation from one of the best is gold!
4. What do you hope readers take away from the story?
SW: Look at these pictures and tell me how anyone could resist rescuing a dog! The first one is my granddaughter Clara, and the second is my mom. They are 90 years apart in age, but their canine companions bring them the same kind of comfort and affection.
5. What are you working on now?
SW: At this very moment I am having high tea on the observation deck of a ship called the Seabourn Quest in Halifax, Canada! I’m writing a new book called WAYWARD GIRLS. Getting away from all the distractions is a wonderful way to get my first draft down on paper. Here’s the exact view from here:
6. Anything else we should know?
SW: A couple of things: A portion of my royalties will go to support my local dog rescue shelter—the Kitsap Humane Society. If you order the book from LibertyBayBooks.com in Poulsbo, WA, you can get a signed copy, AND they’re donating 20% of the price to the Kitsap Humane Society. And finally, a funny story. As my editor was working on the book, she spotted this post on Instagram. We thought it was uncanny, because that’s pretty much how the first scene of the novel plays out, sending Brenda off on her Christmas adventure!