Monday, October 8, 2012

Interview with storyteller Barbara Boswell Brunner

Today's guest is a storyteller with a great sense of humor. Barbara Boswell Brunner is here to chat a bit about her book Dog-Ma, the Zen of Slobber. Yep, dogs, zen, slobber - you're curious, aren't you?

And to add to the fun, Barbara is giving away a free e-book copy of her book at every tour stop. Want to be entered to win? Leave an e-mail address with a comment below. There's also the option to leave a comment without an e-mail so Barbara knows you were here, too.

Barbara grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with her parents, sister and always a dog, or two or three. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from a small women's college in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Meeting her husband in Washington, DC, they continued together on a journey as self-proclaimed dog addicts. In the ensuing years, she founded three successful businesses in the Pacific Northwest and is a prolific fundraiser for breast cancer research. She and her husband are retired and now reside in Southwest Florida with two dogs and copious amounts of dog fur. She is currently working on indulging her well-known flip flop addiction.

Welcome, Barbara. Please tell us about your current release.
Barbara's vivid and dramatic stories, told with a wicked sense of humor, will make you laugh out loud. She definitely gets what living with rescued dogs (nine of them!) is all about.

When Barbara meets her future husband, Ray, it is love-and dog-at first sight. Over the course of thirty-two years, seventeen relocations and nine dogs, their mutual love of dogs guides them on their unconventional path. The love that Barbara and Ray get in return is literally lifesaving, with one dog attacking a lethal intruder and another discovering Barbara’s cancer. Her own survival story underscores the story of how her dogs become survivors themselves.

Each new dog adds its own dynamic to the family, sometimes upending it. From Turbo (whose Spock-like ears may have provided super powers), Barbara learns about the will to live; Lexington demonstrates incredible patience and an inexplicable love of golf; Madison teaches that laughter is truly the best medicine and that the whole “nine lives thing” is not reserved just for cats; Morgan should be sainted for tolerating Izzy, who is as cute as she is bad. Barbara is certain that somewhere in doggie heaven there is a poster that says “If you are sick, injured or in need of really expensive medical care, FIND THESE HUMANS!”

What inspired you to write this book? 
My inspiration was the grief I suffered at the loss of our first dog, Kashi. I started writing the book in my head almost twenty years before putting pen to paper. I took a break from my work life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I sold my business, worked on getting well and found myself ready to finally start writing my little story.

Excerpt: Houdini in a Dog Suit
At six months old, Madison got her first Invisible Fence collar.  It was huge on such a tiny little girl; a box three inches long and two inches square.  I think it weighed as much as her head.  She had been very good staying by Lexi’s side but we knew that would not last forever.  My office was in our guest wing and I had a wonderful view of the yard from my windows.  I had no hesitation leaving the three dogs free to roam their yard during the day.  One day I noticed Madison getting closer and closer to the fence limit and with a twenty-five-foot head start, ran at full speed and jumped at exactly the right moment to jump OVER the fence’s radio field.  Off she went.  By the time I got out to the yard she was gone.
We had a runner.
An hour later I found her at a home almost a mile away, standing in front of the kennels for their hunting dogs.  She was trying to break them out.  She was her father’s daughter. Once a hoodlum, always a hoodlum.
Kennel breaking was a skill Madison would become famous for.  When we traveled, we would board the dogs with our veterinarian.  In the morning they would arrive and find all of the boarded dogs running loose in the building.  This occurred every night and only when Madison boarded.  She could open a simple gate latch with her nose.  The hoop catches took a little more skill, needing both nose and paws.  She figured them all out quickly.  She even learned to open a peg latch with a twist bolt.  Madison had issues with confinement.  They finally had to put a combination lock on her kennel and retired it with fanfare the day we moved away.  Their nickname for her was:
“Houdini in a Dog Suit.”

What story are you working on next? 
My next project is still in its infancy, but it will be a sequel to The Zen of Slobber. I am constantly quizzed by readers about what happens next. Everyone wants to know how Izzy and Morgan are getting along and what is next in their lives. Since our lives are an evolving circus, new material pops up daily. It will continue the journey.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still do not consider myself to be a writer. I am just a story teller. I have loved telling stories since I was small. I first realized I had enough tales to share in a book when I always seemed to end up as the headline entertainment at every single cocktail party we were invited to. Each of those small stories evolved into this book.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write? 
I do not write full time. I am retired after founding and operating retail businesses in the Pacific Northwest for decades. I write for fun and to keep my readers up to date on Izzy's life and death dramatics. Sadly, Facebook may consider me a full time writer. Readers can subscribe to my Facebook author page at I need quiet space in order to write, so I often find myself jotting notes in the middle of the night when my circus animals (including my husband) are sleeping.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I would have to ask my editors that question. OK, ok, okay seems to be my most overused phrase but as one of my editors told me - it is my voice narrating the book and I say OK at least once every five minutes in real life. OK? Learning the difference between an em dash and en dash was a daunting process. I used two editors and each had one as their personal preference. One was a Mac user where em dashes are more easily used and one was a PC user where en dashes are more common. I had to be a referee! It got ugly.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
age 3 - Fashion designer - didn't work out because I can't draw
age 6 - lawyer - thought it might work out. Arguing and compromise were cherished skills
age 10 - a rock star - a severe lack of musical talent was a hindrance
age 12 - very well-dressed lawyer - the thought of that many years in school sent shudders
down my spine
age 18 - high-fashion business owner - A decision that stuck (and I still sing in the shower)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Life cannot be taken too seriously or you'll end up dead at a young age. Live life fully and have fun in the world. Love dogs and read my book!

Ways to connect with me: Website | BlogE-mail

Thanks, Barbara. I'm impressed with you how remember the exact ages of dream careers and reasons for not following up on them. Happy writing!

Readers, don't forget that Barbara is giving away a free e-book copy of her book at every tour stop. Leave an e-mail address with a comment below if you want to be entered to win. There's also the option to leave a comment without an e-mail so Barbara knows you were here, too.


barbara brunner said...

Good morning Lisa, Thanks so much for hosting today. I am available all day to answer questions and comments. Readers, thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...

Great inview Barbara .. I look forward to reading your book. I want to fill in the blanks of the the different stories you have touched briefly on in your many posts on FB and your interviews. Thanks to Lisa for having on her blog ... I enjoy that she is from NH as is my family.