In July 2015, I was hit by an idea for a book about dogs in New York City. As an illustrator (and occasional author) of books for little kids, I imagined a picture book for children.
After having illustrated New York Baby, Brooklyn Baby, and a string of other Local Baby titles for duopress, I could see this new project following a similar format. Or, not! I could see it going in other directions, too. But the years I spent working on Local Baby books for duopress helped spark the dog book concept, so I couldn’t wait to share this new idea with them.
duopress loved my canine brainstorm—hooray! THANK YOU, duopress!
But after writing the manuscript, settling on the title BARK NYC or BARK New York, and trying some sample covers, a shocking question entered the conversation: Is this a book for children? Perhaps BARK should be a book for adults?
Behind the scenes duopress, a publisher of innovative books and games for curious children, was busy opening up a subsidiary line of books and games for adults under the name punchline.
BARK became a punchline project. To break from the original intended audience of kiddos—which had been the focus of my career in recent years (click here to see my portfolio)—we changed our book’s name and cover design. After trying a variety of options, we settled on the title NY Dogs. The final cover is at the top of this post. Below are two of the many options we created during the transition.
Besides getting a new title and cover, the content of NY Dogs also had to be re-written, and had to cover 96 rather than 24 pages. Suddenly I was writing for adult New Yorkers, a notoriously tough crowd. Awesome, yes, but the challenge didn’t stop there. With a publisher named punchline, NY Dogs had to be funny. Clever and witty are closer to my wheelhouse. I needed help! Thankfully there are some very smart and extremely funny people in my life. A handful of them got snagged into contributing to NY Dogs. One of these funny folks had no choice, because he is my roommate. And because we’ve been married for 21 years.
My husband Fred’s funniness is sprinkled through NY Dogs. Finally, his poop jokes have found a broader audience. Congrats, Babe! And… thank you thank you thank you.
Fred Fruisen is a PGA teaching pro and a golf humorist. His first book, 50 Reasons to Hate Golf and Why You Should Never Stop Playing, will be released in May, 2017. Check out Fred’s blog, and like the 50 Reasons to Hate Golf facebook page to follow his progress. I am so pleased and happy for him.
And of course: my friend Doreen! A former Broadway performer and current stay-at-home mom/freelance writer, Doreen Chila-Jones is one of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Because of her close ties to NYC and love of all creatures—at last count her menagerie included two dogs, a cat, and a pair of guinea pigs—she was the perfect co-conspirator for NY Dogs.
Doreen is always busy with writing projects, and she keeps a blog about the joys and challenges of raising teens with some very special needs. Her family’s story is amazing. Follow her!
Doreen is the wife of my college bestie Julia Jones, who is also hilarious. These two are the power couple of Funny, and they are both very talented writers.
Although the demands of Julia’s Broadway stage management career prevented her from becoming an official contributor to NY Dogs, and her humility prevented her from allowing us to credit her at the back of the book along with Fred and Doreen, Julia provided guidance along the way. Follow her wonderful blog five plus banana splits to find out “what happens when experience of the theater crosses with children.”
I had some help with one of the visuals in NY Dogs as well, but my studio assistant would scowl at me over the rims of his glasses at dinner tonight if I wrote his name on the internet—so you’ll have to buy your own copy of NY Dogs and read the credits at the end to learn his identity.
THANK YOU to the entire team, including our many fabulous Facebook fans who submitted photos of their furry best friends. We included every single one of their adorable faces in NY Dogs.
Like our Facebook page to follow along!
And click here to order your copy of NY Dogs (punchline/2016) today!