I caught up with Susan Brocker just after she came back from holidays to ask her a few questions about her new book 'Saving Sam'.
That is a gorgeous dog on the cover – is it yours?
No, but she does look very much like my own dog Layla who passed away about two years ago. I sent in photos of her to the cover designer, and she did a marvellous job of finding a photo of a dog that looked so much like her.
Where did you get the idea for the story?
Layla, my old dog who passed away, gave me the idea. She was always a very timid and shy dog, nothing like your big scary German shepherd, yet she was absolutely incredible with young people. She adored them, and seemed to understand them, especially children who were going through sad or difficult times. She always befriended them and looked out for them. Also, another part of the story was inspired by my present dog, Yogi. He's a long-haired German shepherd too, just like Layla, but he's full of confidence and a real clown! I've been training him in search and rescue work, which he loves, especially fetch!
When researching for the book did you go and see a drug sniffer or police dog in action?
I've seen police dogs in action at training sessions, and I've also spoken to dog trainers about training search and rescue dogs. I've also read lots of books and attend obedience classes to help me train my own dog, Yogi.
Did you draw upon your own experiences as a foster mother for the story?
Yes. We've had quite a few young people come and stay with us as foster caregivers, and I am always amazed at how they respond and love the animals we have here on our small farm. The horses, cats, dogs, even the goats - children of all ages love to spend time with all the animals and it seems to help them heal and smile again.
When is the book due out in the shops?
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