1. Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you are from and your background. I’m from Los Angeles. I was very shy growing up, and spent most of my time alone, drawing and wandering around the yard making up games and stories in my head. I was so shy I didn’t talk to anyone outside my family until I was in the first or second grade.
In junior high I seriously got into art and writing, ballet and other kinds of dance. I had a ballet bar in my room and would put on Dvorak’s Slavonic Waltzes and do fifty plies in each position just to warm up. I think this self-discipline and obsessiveness has served me well as an artist. You have to stay on track,’ cause no one will do it for you. No one can. I went to UCSB.
2. You are the author of children’s books with a related pet theme – please can you tell us a little more about those. ‘Don’t Lick the Dog… Making Friends with Dogs,’ is a guide for children on meeting new dogs safely. The book is in rhyme which makes it easy for children to memorize basic rules. Like, “Before you give a treat to Kate, make your hand into a plate,” and, “Cross your arms and turn your back when Jake jumps up and barks like that.” “A Cat Like That” is told from the cat’s perspective, what qualities he looks for in a best friend. Like, not yelling in his ear or dragging him around.
3. What motivated you to pick cats and dogs as subject matter? My big beautiful sweet silver standard poodle Andy – who is just about to lick me on the lips on the book jacket photo – was afraid of kids and puppies. “Don’t Lick the Dog” was inspired by my need to protect Andy from children! And of course, being respectful and careful with dogs is direly important to children too. In the book, there is a small shy dog named, Bootsy who rides on the woman’s shoe. At the end of the story, Bootsy has made his way onto the little girl’s shoe – she has been patient and gentle and won the little dog’s trust. “Bootsy” was Andy’s secret name.
4. Please tell us about your typical day as an author. This morning I drank coffee and answered emails. I worked on a story until about 10:30, then ate my oatmeal. Many mornings I go to the gym first thing, then work. At some point during the day either I or my husband, Joe, take the poodles out for exercise. I’m working on a new book dummy, so will be getting to that after this. It’s Sunday. I don’t follow a 5 day work week, I sort of work all the time. Someone asked me once what I did for fun. I still don’t have a good answer for that, since, “I work,” doesn’t sound like much fun, does it. But it is to me.
5. Have you always loved animals and had pets in your life? Yes, and yes! We had a miniature dachshund when I was little. I had guinea pigs throughout elementary school even though I was allergic to them and cried my heart out when they died. In high school I had turtles and fish in a tiny backyard pond, and guppies in bowls in my room. We had a Lab and a cat with no meow.
We had a horse for a little while. A big palomino quarter horse named Tequila. My dad named him. I would hold a flashlight in his feed bin at night so he could see what he was eating. I was so fortunate to have a horse, wasn’t I? Since leaving home and college, I’ve had dogs and cats and I hope I always can.
6. Please tell us a little about any of your pets and as this is Pet Hooligans, whether they have ever got into any mischief? Ha! Oh, where to start. Well, our horse used to back up and kick his stall before he’d eat. Hmm, maybe that’s why I hung around while he was eating. Tequila came from a ranch and we think he must have had to defend his hay, so he would kick. Poor guy, it was habitual.
I have a funny memory of our little dachshund, Willy; back to back with my mom out on the lawn. She’s planting grass in the holes he’s dug up while he’s behind her digging away. I don’t think I thought to even tell my mom, since I didn’t know at the time she was repairing his damage! I just thought it was hilarious.
Table surfing dogs can be pretty funny – in hind sight, anyway. A stick of butter being carried off at picnics, cake corners disappearing at birthday parties.
7. What are your plans for the future, do you plan to write more books with animals as a theme? I hope to illustrate more stories written by my husband Joe, and would like to illustrate other author’s work as well. I’m working on some fiction stories about some ponies (I love these ponies!) who live in City Park (Central Park) and have a few other stories in the works. Also some baby books.
8. Finally, if people want to find out more about you, please can you share details of your website, Facebook page or Twitter profile where they can learn more?
I have a blog on my website. Click, “What’s New, Wendy Wahman.” http://www.wendywahman.com
For books, Macmillan: us.macmillan.com/author/wendywahman
Lately I’ve been adding work to Behance: http://www.behance.net/wendywahman