Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Please welcome two very special guests...

Sarah and Dougal
..fellow Crooked Cat author, Sarah Stephenson, and Dougal, the subject of a diary.
SS  Angela, thank you for inviting me on to your blog today, it’s a great priviledge.

AW  You are both very welcome.  So, tell me Sarah, how did Dougal's diary come about?
SS  I have to thank Sue Townsend, one of my favourite authors, for giving me the personality of my central character, Dougal.  My first book, Dougal’s Dairy, is printed as an ebook with Crooked Cat and will be out in print, any day soon.
I am often asked where the idea for Dougal came from.  Well, I have to confess it all started with a shower, in fact, two.  I was in the bathroom, smothered in shower gel, when my puppy Dougal, decided he had to go out for a pee in the rain.  As I stood in the garden; towel in one hand, brolly in other, I thought what a good picture it would make.  Actually, I lie.  My first reaction was, you bloody dog, followed by what if I…? Other incidents, such as Dougal covered from head to tail in mud, or Dougal shooting down a slide on a toddler’s lap, encouraged the idea; a small book of cartoons with captions underneath.
It was then reality struck.  I’d have to return to art classes and hone my skills.  This could take time.  This could take years.  Instead I began compiling lists.  From lists came daily jottings in a diary.  Unfortunately they were so tedious, I almost fell asleep on page one.  So I searched for inspiration from well-known authors and came across Buster’s Diaries by Roy Hattersley.  A true and delightful story, but not quite what I was looking for.
In despair, I turned to the human and more humorous diaries.  Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’
Dougal, covered in mud!
Diary.  Fun: men mad and always on a diet.  Not exactly Dougal but it gave me ideas.  His food obsessions, his desire to put on weight, his owner’s determination to keep him slim.
When I finally hit upon Adrian Mole; a developing male full of angst over girls, acne and the length of his penis, a seed was born.  I lifted bits of fact, mixed them with fantasy and turned Dougal into a fictional character.  Thanks to Sue Townsend, I found the tone of the book and the character of Dougal.
Just like Adrian Mole, Dougal is obsessed not with acne, but his weight and health. Is constantly misunderstood and a worrier: worried about elderly relatives, the NHS and Transport for London.  Unlike Adrian Mole, the nearest Dougal comes to getting his girl, is humping all dogs called Chester.                       
In some of the early drafts, Dougal believed he was so abused, I feared anyone reading it might report his owner to the RSPCA.  These had to be binned and the tone tempered.  It was important he was seen as a complete hypochondriac.

About the author...Sarah, who grew up in Bristol, now lives in South East London with two dogs.  She's had a chequered career as ballet dancer, cook, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods and actor.

You can find her book using the links below
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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