About the Book
Release Date: 14th Jan 2016
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Has he chosen well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.
He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and become; either a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.
Behaviour classes were never on his wish list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.
Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams, will they ever come true?
At the start it was a question of finding Dougal’s voice. Once I got that it was fairly easy. But I did find I’d made major errors. I mean is a dog going to wax lyrical about a sunset? And a gate is there as a thing to jump over, walk through or pee against, not as some ornate object, to be admired.
2) If you could cross any two dog breeds in the world to make your own new breed (like a Labradoodle), what would you choose, and how would you name your new dog breed?
This is a difficult subject. Many people are convinced breeds shouldn’t be tampered with. Others believe there are certain pedigrees with inherited health problems which could be helped, if they were mixed with other breeds.
There are many poodle crosses around. And since there’s masses of money to be made out of them, some may come from puppy farms. Poodles are highly desirable as a mix. They’re highly intelligent and don’t molt. A poodle/ whippet cross could be called a Pippet or a whoodle.
3) Do you have a dog or any other pet? Has that influenced your writing?
As a child I had a hamster called Mr Murdoch. And indeed I do have an unfinished story about a hamster being found in a skip at a recording studio. He’d been used in an advert for a diet drink for overweight animals. He was the after diet, animal, dumped at the end of the show.
An old security guard who lives in a caravan beside the studio, finds him, takes him in and cares for him. The hamster ends up helping out in the studio kitchens. Of course he can talk. It’s a baddies versus the goodies, story. Masses of action. Many locations.
I was too immature a writer to cope with it, then. Perhaps, once I’ve finished my next book, I should tackle it again.
4) Tell us more about yourself and your plans for your writing career.
Well, I live in South East London with two dogs, the old grandchild and an awful lot of clutter. I’ve had a great variety of jobs during my life; working as a sales girl, cinema usherette, actress and chef. I am crazy about food, wine, films and opera. Adore travelling and have been to China, India, and Japan on several occasions. Visited Morocco on my own - not necessarily to be incouraged. The world is changing so rapidly I am unsure where to head next.
Three years ago I joined a writing school in Dartford, The Write Place, run by the Saga writer Elaine Everest. She got me writng more seriously. Until then I’d shown my scribbles, to no-one. Thanks to her, Dougal’s Diary was finished and published. Now I’m working on my next book.
We’re told to write what we know about. So, having having spent the last twenty years as a free-lance chef; cooking in Britain , Europe and the States, in the homes of the very wealthy, I am combining my knowledge of cooking with crime. Cozy crime.
Tilly Carey, a newly qualified chef goes down to crumbling mansion in Gloucestershire to cook for a funeral. She is given a frosty reception by a quarrelling aristocratic family. Deaths Occur.
Her own family, mother and brother appear in the book, so does her assistant Konstantine, a student from Tbilisi. A young Scottish man she meets on a train, brings in some love interest.
5) If you could choose between living as a dog and living as a human being, what would you go for, and why?
This is a difficult. It’s really a question of where they’re living.
A dog in Afghanistan, or a human in Afghanistan? I really wouldn’t want to be either. But if I had to choose, I’d prefer to stay human.
A dog in a smart house in Chelsea or its owner? I’d go for the dog. Plenty of comforts; top quality food and the filipino housekeeper would take me for walks. I might even go hunting and shooting at the weekend. There’d be no worries over markets crashing or decisions about leaving or staying in the EU.
Then there’s the homeless. Which is it best to be, a homeless man or his dog?
Definitely the dog, who isn’t homeless because he lives with his homeless owner.
About the Author
Cooking combines two of her passions; travel and people. She’s catered on barges in Burgundy, private houses in America, many stately homes in England, run a delicatessen, a stall in a farmer’s market and been a judge on the Great Taste Food Awards. Good opportunities for hearing about the lives of others.
Her need to write began with letters; sending home news of her adventures. At seventeen: travelling alone on the Trans-Siberian Railway and across the Sea of Japan. In Greece as a drama student, when the van blew up at the Springs of Daphne and they explored the mainland, riding on bread vans and tractors before selling their blood for a fiver and hitch-hiking home on a lorry. Or in Morocco on a solo trip, in pre-mobile phone days, when she was chucked off a bus in the desert and found herself surrounded by hundreds of camels and similar numbers of men, all in local dress.
Since then Sarah hasn’t stopped scribbling and joining the Write Place, a writing class in Dartford, encouraged her to put the contents of numerous exercise books into something more concrete.
These days Sarah chooses less adventurous holidays but might well send one of her characters off on a trek she doesn’t feel brave enough to make.
Dougal’s Diary is Sarah’s first book.
Facebook: Sarah www.facebook.com/Sarah Stephenson798
Twitter: Sarah: @SvsStephenson
Dougal : @DougalDiary