Tamara Martin, Children's Literature Author
TM: I’ve always loved to read but never felt pulled towards writing. That all changed when I moved from Athens, Ohio to Ganado, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. I saw how poverty and neglect of a human population affected the animals of those people. Good people wanted good things for their animals but didn’t know where to start. This book shows the transitions of a young dog in a land where there are few resources for animals. There is neither a sad nor a happy ending. Just another abandoned dog waiting for help.
GM: The illustration are beautiful. What was the collaboration process between you and the illustrator, Ernest John?
TM: Haha. I wrote one sentence for Ernest; one sentence for each drawing. I wanted him to use his own life experiences to make each page his own. For example, I’d write “people rushing around, talking on cell phones” and Ernest drew what that sentence meant to him. His illustration shows a Navajo woman in a pick-up truck, driving and talking on her phone, oblivious to a skinny dog standing by the roadside. Or I’d write “night at sheep camp - all is quiet” and Ernest drew a breathtaking scene of a rural Navajo home at night, surrounded by looming mesas. He drew the night sky and moonlight. He drew the animals safe in their corrals and a little dog guarding it all. Ernest always drew the perfect scene for the one sentence I gave him.
GM: Emotions can be felt in each illustration. I have studied them for awhile now and every time I look at them, I derive something new. Dogs seem to be your passion. How many dogs do you own?
TM: We have all ages and sizes, from a 14 year old, 3 pound, toothless Chihuahua to a young Shepherd mix named “Sally” who goes hiking with us. Five dogs total. Because we do foster care and get to really know each dog, we’ve accumulated what I call “misfits”. These are dogs we’ve decided were not adoptable. Maybe they are very old and frail or have seizures. Or they don’t trust anyone but us. Or they have a skin condition that makes them “unattractive”. These are our 5 beloved dogs, lol. The Misfits.
TM: Gina - we don’t have a shelter. We are a group of foster homes who work with shelters and other rescue groups to find homes for unwanted animals.
TM: The stray dog problem persists because our shelters are full and because there is limited access to low-cost spay/neuter clinics in rural areas. So puppies continue to be born. And people still abandon their city dogs in “the country” - areas which are least prepared to care for strays. Small communities enact laws but rarely have the personnel to enforce them.
TM: Find a friendly publisher, haha. And good, truthful friends to proof-read!
TM: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. I think I had learned to read well enough as a child that I didn’t struggle with the words. I became totally immersed in that story and told my parents; “It’s the best book I’ve ever read.”
TM: 1. My socks never match
2. I’ve had jobs as a boilermaker welder, a vet tech, a registered nurse and a massage therapist
3. I have 5 dogs, 7 cats, a horse, a llama and a donkey
4. Our group calls references and makes home visits before any of our rescued dogs are adopted
5. My favorite dog breed is Navajo “Sheepdog”
6. If I think of more, I’ll send a separate email