I am so pleased to host Patrick Jennings here today. In addition to being an awesome writer, Patrick is an awesome writing mentor to young people in the seaport town where he lives.
Guinea Dog 3 is about three guinea pigs and the people who love them.
The first book, Guinea Dog, was inspired in 1997 by a new Himalayan kitten I adopted. Soobie Mennym—I named her after a character in Sylvia Waugh’s underrated The Mennyms—reminded me of a puppy: overeager, clumsy, always underfoot. She ran to the door when someone knocked. She played Fetch. Her behavior inspired a picture book idea about a boy who wants a dog but gets a cat instead. The boy, Rufus, is disappointed, until the cat begins to bark, run alongside his bike, and catch Frisbees. I wrote and illustrated a dummy, titled the story Snowball, Sit!, and sent it to my editor, who felt it was for middle graders, not preschoolers. I put it away and resumed work on my current book-in-progress.
A few years later, I was invited to submit a middle-grade short story to an in-class magazine, Storyworks, so I got Snowball out of cold storage and retooled it. Before submitting it, I changed the Snowball to Fido, a cat to a guinea dog. Why? It was funnier. To smooth this over with Soobie, I dedicated the book to her. Sadly, Soobie died of liver disease six months after the book came out, in 2010, thirteen years after she inspired it. I like to think she lives on in the books, including Guinea Dog 3.
I was delighted with the enthusiastic response from young readers to the first Guinea Dog book. It was because they loved it so much that my publisher asked me to write the second, then the third. I’ve relished the opportunity to spend more time getting to know the characters, and to introduce some new ones, including Pablo and Snapper in Guinea Dog 3. Recently my readership has expanded, as the book has both been translated into German and Chinese and recorded as an audiobook (the three books are available individually or together in The Guinea Dog Collection).
Kids often ask me if there will be a Guinea Dog 4. They want to know how many more Fido books I will write. Will there be a Guinea Dog 23 with twenty-three cavies on the covers? I have no idea. It’s one guinea dog at a time at this point.
Patrick Jennings is the author of over twenty books for young readers, featuring electric dogs, guinea dogs, gopher snakes, grebes, ferrets, bats, rats, cats, and delphine aliens. He lives and writes in a seaport town in Washington State.