Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Michelle Medlock Adams, author of Dachshund Through the Snow.
FQ: I suspect there’s a special dachshund in your life. Would you tell our readers a little about him/her and if this dog was the one who inspired your story?
ADAMS: There sure is! The current doxie in my life is a long-haired dachshund named Mollie Mae. She’s our little diva dog. At almost 16 years old, she still runs the household, lol. She’s a beauty—all black with a little gray around her snout. She didn’t inspire this particular story but she sat at my feet as I wrote it. She’s pretty much my constant companion.
FQ: The story of Crosby saving Christmas is very original. It takes the dachshund breed’s well-known burrowing talents and wraps that up into a tale about saving Christmas. How did the story come about?
ADAMS: Thank you. Well, I’ve had dachshunds all my life but one particular doxie, Miller boy, was our digger. I truly believe if there had been a burrowing event in our neck of the woods, he would have taken top honors. I was thinking of Miller as I wrote this story.
As for how the story came about, the title Dachshund Through the Snow came to me first, and the story was birthed out of it. That’s not usually how I write. Typically, the title comes much later so this was a different experience for me but one that I truly enjoyed. I’d always wanted to write a story about my favorite breed, so crafting the text for this picture book fulfilled a dream for me.
FQ: The illustrations by Ana Sebastian are fantastic and really convey the fun and charm of the story. Have you worked with her before? Did you work closely with her on this project, giving her very specific instructions or was she allowed to let her imagination run wild?
ADAMS: Great question. Actually, this was my first time to work with Ana, but I certainly hope it’s not my last. She is an amazing artist. My publisher chose her, and though I offered some art notes throughout, Ana really brought my words to life. I’ve never actually spoken to her, but we communicate via social media, and I love keeping in touch with her that way. She was excited to learn that Dachshund Through the Snow had won another couple of awards. We both were elated!
FQ: Crosby gets a very special award from Santa that changes his life. How can we best teach our children that same lesson of being special?
ADAMS: I hope when children read this book and see that Crosby didn’t let his size define him, but instead believed in himself, that they will do the same. As parents and caregivers, we can help the littles in our world realize just how special they are by pointing out their strengths on a daily basis. We should look for opportunities to encourage their hearts. We may not have gold medals to hand out every day, but our words can be just as valuable.
FQ: Are there any more dog stories in your future? Will we meet Crosby in another story?
ADAMS: I sure hope so! I believe Crosby has many more stories to live out on the pages of future picture books.
FQ: Authors are often asked if they have a favorite book among all their works. With over 100 books to your credit, is there any way to select one or two that stand out for you?
ADAMS: I’ll have to say, Dachshund Through the Snow is one of my favorites because of its sweet and important message, and because it’s about my favorite breed—the dachshund.
But I also really love a book I co-wrote with my friend Eva Marie Everson that debuts with End Game Press this summer. It’s called, Our God is Bigger Than That! and it means so much to me. Here is the “story behind the story” that is running as an author’s note in the front of this upcoming picture book.
The Story Behind the Story...A Note from Michelle:
This declaration, “Our God is bigger than that” became my battle cry when my oldest daughter, Abby, was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome in the final trimester of her pregnancy with our first grandchild. She delivered baby Bear a month early, with serious complications. Abby was admitted to ICU, as the medical staff tried to find the source of her blood loss, and my newborn grandson was rushed to the NICU where he faced his own battles. Meanwhile, my sweet mother-in-law Martha was fighting for her life at a hospital four hours away with my husband by her side. It all seemed too much as I collapsed in the hospital hallway that August day in 2017. I called my close writer friend Eva Marie, who had been a nurse for many years, and asked her to explain all of the medical terms being thrown around. One by one, I told her the doctors’ concerns regarding Abby, Bear, and Martha, and then I shared all of my greatest fears. Eva listened and then softly said, “I’m not going to lie to you. These are some big obstacles, but our God is bigger. He is bigger than all of that.”
Her words filled my heart with hope and courage, and “Our God is bigger than that” became the battle cry for my whole family. Abby was able to go home to heal after two weeks in the hospital, and Bear joined her after another week. And my sweet mother-in-law went home to heaven the following month. Eighteen months later, Bear was diagnosed with a small tumor on the base of his brainstem, and we continue to declare: “Our God is bigger than that!” as we stand courageously with our grandson.
It’s our hope that whatever you are facing today, that you’ll grab hold of our declaration, “Our God is bigger than that!” and face your fears head on. We stand with you.
FQ: Having written so many books, in several different genres, is there a genre you haven’t tried yet that intrigues you?
ADAMS: Actually, I have written the first book in a series of middle grade novels that has never been published. It was contracted but that particular publisher is no longer publishing books. All of that to say, I truly enjoyed writing that book. I would like to explore writing more fiction for that age group.
FQ: You have an incredibly busy writing schedule, between writing your own books, articles, ghostwriting and teaching (did I miss anything?). When do you have time to relax?
ADAMS: Ha-ha, well I used to be really bad about taking time to relax. I was a workaholic! But then I discovered fishing. My husband and I love to go bass fishing. (We practice catch and release.) We bought a bass boat for our 25th wedding anniversary, and we’ve been traveling and fishing ever since. I hope there’s more of that in my future! I find that if I don’t take time to “play,” then my writing suffers. Thankfully, though, I truly enjoy writing and publishing. Sometimes the deadlines are daunting but I am grateful I get to work in an industry I love.
FQ: Speaking of ghostwriting...when did you start ghostwriting and do you enjoy the process? How different is it for you vs writing your own stories?
ADAMS: I sort of fell into ghostwriting when I was hired to write feature stories for a magazine in Texas back in 1998. After only being there a short while, the magazine’s needs changed, and my editor told me I was no longer needed to write features or human interest stories. I thought he was firing me, but he was just reassigning me to ghostwriting. I had earned a journalism degree from Indiana University, and never once in my education had the term “ghostwriting” ever come up. I had no idea what my editor was talking about, so I listened closely as he explained the process. Puzzled, I said, “So I’ve worked my whole career to find my voice, and now you’re telling me to lose it and find somebody’s else’s?” To that, he answered, “yes.” So, I sort of learned how to ghostwrite “on the job” and never looked back. It was a blessing in disguise because I soon discovered that ghostwriting is very lucrative, and it has allowed me to meet many interesting people and help them tell their stories. It’s a privilege, really. I get to work with celebrities, and because we work so closely, many of them have become my dear friends. I really love ghostwriting!
The process is totally different. I immerse myself in my client’s voice. I listen to his/her podcasts, interviews, etc. I read every piece ever written about that person or by that person, and I study my client’s phrasing and cadence and word choice. I do my best to keep my voice totally out of my client’s manuscript, so that takes work. I have to wear a different hat, so to speak. It’s a different mindset.
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