Monday, January 14, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Dogs of Winter
by Bobbie Pyron

Flap Copy Description:
A small boy in a cruel city and the incredible dogs who save him.

When Ivan's mother disappears, he's abandoned on the streets of Moscow, with little chance to make it through the harsh winter. But help comes in an unexpected form when Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs who quickly become more than just his street companions: They become  his family. Soon Ivan, who used to love reading fairy tales, is practically living in one, as he and his pack roam the city and countryside, using their wits to find food and shelter, dodging danger, begging for coins. But Ivan can't stay hidden from the world of people forever. When help is finally offered to him, will he be able to accept it? Will he even want to?

My Thoughts:
The Dogs of Winter is based on the amazing true story of the feral child - Ivan Mishukov. It's been a long time since a middle grade novel has moved me to tears - but I actually lost it with this book! Ms. Pyron's novel slowly builds with intensity: like a flurry of snow, moving to a full-blown snowstorm, and culminating in a blizzard of poignant human drama. While the story is powerful; the author's writing style borders on pure poetry. This is the first novel I have read by Bobbie Pyron, but it won't be the last. I would highly recommend The Dogs of Winter to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To visit the website of Bobbie Pyron - click here:

A Surprise Interview with the author, Bobbie Pyron!

After I finished reading The Dogs of Winter, I was so moved by the novel that I contacted Ms. Pyron to tell her how much I enjoyed the book. We ended up connecting on FB and Twitter, and she graciously agreed to grant me an interview. So, without further ado, please welcome Bobbie Pyron to Writ of Whimsy!

Thanks again, Bobbie, for taking the time to answer a few questions!

What inspired you to write a novel based on the feral child - Ivan Mishukov? 

"I think part of the answer to that is my passionate love of dogs and my strong connection to them. Ever since I was a child, I was convinced I was more canine than human! When my book, A DOG'S WAY HOME (Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins, 2011) came out, so many reviewers and fans asked how I was able to "see through the eyes of a dog" so convincingly. To me, it was the easiest part of writing the book. So in 2005, when I read a magazine article about Ivan Mishukov and his two years living wild on the streets of Moscow with a pack of feral street dogs (he was only 4 at the time), I was completely entranced. I knew I had to write a novel based on his experience with these dogs who became his family, in every sense of the word."

How much time did you spend on research for The Dogs of Winter?

"I spent five years, on and off, doing research for the book. Some people gasp when they hear that. But you have to understand, I've been a librarian for many years. I love research - almost too much! I was in hog heaven. But at a certain point, I got pretty overwhelmed by all that I knew, and all that I still didn't know. I put the book and the research aside for a couple of years and wrote two other books: THE RING (Westside Books, 2009) and A DOG'S WAY HOME. Still, Ivan's story haunted me. I finally went back to it in 2010. I re-read every piece of information I'd gathered, then tried to forget it all, and wrote."

When I read your novel, I felt it would appeal to all ages.
What genre/age group (MG, Upper MG) would you categorize
The Dogs of Winter?

"It is the great good hope of both my self and my editor that the book will have "crossover appeal" and will be read by all ages. Although it is an adventure story and features a young child, on a more universal level, it's an exploration of what defines family. Additionally, when I write a book, I really don't think about what genre it's for. I just write the story that is given to me."

I know that you're also a librarian, Bobbie. How do you balance those responsibilities with your writing?

"I'm lucky in that my husband and I are at the stage of our lives (kids grown and mostly gone!) where I don't have to work full time. So, for the last few years, I've worked only 20 hours a week. And being a librarian is, in many ways, a perfect complement to being a writer. I often say, I'm a librarian who happens to write. Still, the more books I have out there, the harder it gets to juggle the two jobs."

If you had one tip to pass along to aspiring authors, what would it be?

"Wow, that's hard...just one?!! I think it would be to take yourself seriously as a writer, even if you don't think you'll  ever get published. Because if you don't take your passion, your craft, your need to write seriously, no one else will - not your husband/wife, not your children, not your friends. I get so tired of people saying, "I don't have time to write because my husband/partner/kids think it's silly for me to take time away from them to do this." Well honey, don't blame them! You have to believe in yourself before anyone else out there will."

This has been a treat for me, Bobbie. Thanks for the inspiring interview!

As a surprise to those who comment, I will give a copy of
The Dogs of Winter to one lucky winner!
(Please leave an e-mail address if I don't have your contact information.)
The winner will be announced on Saturday, January 19th.


  1. I've often thought about being a librarian, but I'm not sure how good I would be at it since I would want to read more than work :D

    Great tip on taking yourself seriously as a writer. It's hard to do, but no one else will if you don't.

    1. Thanks, Jenn. I, too, love the tip that Ms. Pyron mentioned. If we stay focused on our passion, and not publication, it helps!

  2. This sounds like a book I would love.

    Wonderful interview. Great to know Bobbie! Thanks for hosting Victoria!

    1. Thanks, Loree. Ms. Pyron has been wonderful to get to know. Have a great week!

  3. Thank you Victoria for featuring my book! I love your blog :) And to all you dog lovers out there, be sure to check out my other book, A DOG'S WAY HOME. And just so you know, it's not a "dead dog" story ;)

    1. Thanks, Bobbie. I will definitely be reading A DOG'S WAY HOME!

  4. I love anything to do with Russia. I just added this to my goodreads list. I think being a librarian would be hard. I would never get any work done because I was too busy reading.

    1. I actually discovered this book while I was volunteering at our local library. But, I agree with you: If I worked there I wouldn't be very productive! Thanks, Sara.

  5. My daughter would LOVE this books. She's ten and loves dogs. And the discussions I have with her about the books she reads impresses me. I think this would be perfect for discussion.

    I think it's wonderful to contact the authors we admire.

    1. I have only contacted a handful of authors (directly) that I admire, Theresa. However, each time the contact was wonderful - this was no exception.

  6. Wow what a great story! I love it that you contacted her, Victoria! what a nice compliment--something every author must love. I also send them a Twitter message when I love an author's book, just to let them know.
    I'm super intrigued with Dogs of WInter now. Must read!

    1. Thanks, Pk. You won't be disappointed when you read it!