Briefly tell us about your book
As the title of ‘Olive, Mabel & Me’ suggests, it’s about my dogs and my relationship with them. But it’s really for anybody who knows that connection with these loyal, loving, furry creatures who keep us company. It’s a book which, I hope, also offers something of an escape – telling of travel around the world and into the wild and open places at a time when those things might be out of reach. But above all it’s about a different journey – the one that we make through life with dogs.
Tell us about your background and what led you to writing this book.
My background is in words and language, but based on the spoken, rather than the written word. I am a broadcaster, commentating on major sporting events and that’s how the book came about. When all sport stopped in 2020 I found myself at a loose end and comprehensively unemployed, so started commentating on my dogs, Olive and Mabel. That idea developed further into making short comic films, placing them in perhaps more human situations. Those videos were quite successful on social media around the world and the book really came from that.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
The most challenging aspect was deciding what it was about. Once I decided that it was about very little except for my relationship with my dogs then I relaxed and started to realise that I could branch off from there to writing about all manner of things. The other concern was that because the book has come from a series of very successful videos, you question how you might replicate that audio-visual success in the form of a book. The answer is that you don’t. You simply try and write with the same type of humour and hope that it comes across. And also make sure you appease everybody by bringing out an audiobook version…
How does it feel to hold your book in your hands?
It feels strange. I am used to hearing myself on television or radio, or reading articles which I might have written for newspapers and magazines. But there is still something very different and magical about completing a book – becoming an author. It is also strange because the text has lived for so long on my laptop with parts altered here, tweaked there or, in places, entirely deleted and started again. So then to see those words on pages of a book, accompanied by photographs and within a cover, bound and ready for others – actual people – to give or receive and read, is both satisfying and exciting. And probably terrifying as well.
Who are some of your favourite authors, or favourite books?
I try and find escapism in books. Not necessarily escapism into fantasy – although I am fairly partial to a bit of science fiction – but more escapism into the lighter side of things. The world is dark and serious enough, in particular at the moment, so finding some humour is important. I have always enjoyed reading Bill Bryson as he informs, educates and entertains in equal measure – every one of his books has wonderful observation and always a line or two with great phrasing and perfect comic timing. If I could manage just a fraction of that then I would be happy.