By Leslie Lindsay
~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~
#1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron
Since the publication of #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestseller A DOG’S PURPOSE over a decade ago, Cameron’s books have earned praise from the likes of Alice Walker “amazing…wise” and Temple Grandin,
“I could not put it down,”
inspired three hit movies (which Cameron and his wife, Cathryn Michon, co-wrote the screenplays for).
Cameron has also become involved in animal charity work, which has become a passion project of his wife. He frequently partners with Best Friends Animal Society, a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters, to raise money and awareness for the organization.
That said, I was super-thrilled to learn that Bruce Cameron had a sequel to A DOG’S WAY HOME, which became a hit movie in 2019. A DOG’S COURAGE (forthcoming from Forge Books, May 4), is the follow-up to dog Bella’s story, but also her people, Lucas and Olivia, now married.
Bella was once a lost dog, but now she lives happily with her people, Lucas and Olivia, only occasionally recalling the hardships in her past. But then Lucas, Olivia, and Bella embark on a camping trip to the Rocky Mountains, which turns into a harrowing struggle for survival they are engulfed by the biggest wildfire in American history.
The raging inferno separates Bella from her people and Bella is lost once more. Alone in the wilderness, Bella unexpectedly finds herself responsible for the safety of two defenseless mountain lion cubs. Now she’s torn between two equally urgent goals: stay with Big Kitten, a mother-figure of sorts, or to find her people. Can Bella ever get back to where she truly belongs?
A DOG’S COURAGE is an emotional and honest tale of loyalty, sacrifice, and touches on some timely and topical aspects including forest fires, ecology, homeless animals, shelters, and even inter-species relationships.
Cameron writes for all audiences, so A DOG’S COURAGE is appropriate for both YA readers, adults, and even as family read-alouds, which we did. That said, it’s a more heartfelt type of read, with the overall message of resilience, loyalty, and what constitutes a family. It is told primarily from the POV of a dog, which I found endearing.
Please join me in welcoming the fabulous and talented W. Bruce Cameron to the author interview series:
Bruce, welcome! I am so delighted. My daughters—now 14 and 16—have long been fans of your work, purchasing your puppy tales books at school book fairs and reading in the corners of their rooms. We chose to read A DOG’S COURAGE as a family and so that’s how we’ll structure this interview, with each of us taking turns to ask questions. I’ll start.
For A DOG’S COURAGE, which is a continuation of Bella’s story (along with med student/resident Lucas and his wife, Olivia), what was your inspiration? Was there a theme, place, or event you were wanting to explore?
I spend the majority of my time between Colorado and California. Well, not geographically between, but most of the days of my life I will wake up in one of those two states. Unfortunately, my two chosen home bases are subject to horrific fires. When I thought about Bella, I thought that she would be up to the challenge of fleeing before a huge forest fire.
Kelly Lindsay, 14:
And to follow up with that, was there a certain dog who inspired Bella’s character?
Well, not specific to any particular one dog. I don’t build characters like that, I don’t base them on people that I know personally nor on dogs that have licked my hands in the past. I just sort of think about what dogs are like and then focus on the personality of the dog I am trying to write.
Kate Lindsay, 16:
I’m curious about the forest fires. This is a real issue going on right now. What can the targeted audience do you prevent forest fires?
That’s an interesting question because one could argue there is almost nothing that an individual can do to prevent forest fires. Most of the fires I’ve studied are the fault of decades of forest mismanagement. Too much undergrowth has been allowed to build up and we have not done a good job of calling that would from our forests. We have had invasive species, and further, we have had a policy of suppression instead of allowing some burns to complete the natural cycle of growth, burn, replenish. It should be noted, though, that building a home in the forest means being exposed to dangers in the forest.
Jim Lindsay, dad:
We were in the Rocky Mountains last July. We noticed the remains of badly burned trees, the devastation from beetles, and more. It’s tragic, all of this land being destroyed. You live in California. I am curious if you experienced any of this first-hand?
I actually lived in Colorado for 15 years and was a writer for the Denver Rocky Mountain News. So I do have first-hand experience with these fires. I was also in the Rocky Mountains last summer: we spent August and September in Summit County. We saw firsthand the smudge of smoke in the sky and the devastation done to the terrain by the horrendous fires of 2020.
“The bestselling canine franchise W. Bruce Cameron created with A Dog’s Purpose continues…The journey is as bittersweet and heartwarming as millions of fans have come to expect of Cameron’s work.”
– The Orange County Register
Also, Bruce, I am struck by your work with Best Friends Animal Society. In fact, before COVID, we planned a family trip to Utah to volunteer at the shelter, but sadly had to cancel. Can you tell us about some of your experiences there…and how others can get involved?
I am a big supporter of Best Friends Animal Society and their efforts to have no kill by 2025. They are something of an umbrella organization, meaning, they raise money on a national level but then give it to local rescues that are doing good work. Anyone can volunteer to work in animal rescue. It’s demanding, it can be heartbreaking, but it is ultimately rewarding to help animals who, through no fault of their own, have become lost in our human systems.
Kelly Lindsay, 14:
Oh, but wait! I am curious about inter-species friendships. Bella is a dog and yet she becomes part of a mountain lion’s pack. How often does this happen? Did you have to do a lot of research about that? I have a book about unlikely animal friendships…I think this happens more than we realize. Can you tell us more?
I love the way you put this, because it never occurred to me until just now that Bella is, indeed, part of a mountain lions pack. I have no idea how something like this could specifically happen other than in the fictionalized setting of the world of A DOG’S WAY HOME and its sequel, A DOG’S COURAGE. But I love when I see inter-species friendships.
Bruce, thank you for this. Before we go, is there anything we didn’t ask, but should have?
I think I would like people to know that A DOG’S COURAGE is a little different than most of my other dog books in that there is just a ton of adventure. My most recently released novel, A DOG’S PERFECT CHRISTMAS was also off the beaten path in that, though it had dog POV, it was told mostly about the people in the family and not about the dogs specifically. I guess what I’m saying is that while I will always write about dogs and their relationships to people, I also really enjoy adventure, action, and interpersonal relationships between both dogs and people and people and people.
For more information, to connect with Bruce Cameron, or to purchase a copy of A DOG’S COURAGE, please visit:
- Support your local in-person bookstore or order through Bookshop.org
- This title may also be available through other online sellers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
W. Bruce Cameron is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A
Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Way Home, and A Dog’s Journey (all now major motion
pictures), The Dog Master, the Puppy Tales series for middle grade readers, A Dog’s
Perfect Christmas, the Lily to the Rescue series, The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man, and others. He lives in California, and can be found at www.wbrucecameron.com.
ABOUT YOUR HOST:
Leslie Lindsay is the creator and host of the award-winning author interview series,“Always with a Book.” Since 2013, Leslie, named “one of the most influential book reviewers” by Jane Friedman, ranks in the top 1% of all GoodReads reviewers and has conducted over 700 warms, inquisitive conversations with authors as wide-ranging as Robert Kolker and Mary Kubica to Helen Phillips and Mary Beth Keane, making her website a go-to for book lovers world-wide. Her writing & photography have appeared in literary journals and online. She is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, soon to be released as an audio book by Penguin Random House. She is represented by Catalyst Literary Management & Writer’s House.
Leslie’s memoir, MODEL HOME: Motherhood, Madness & Memory is currently on-submission.
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