I had the pleasure of visiting Ms. Bradunas’s class at the Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke School in Baltimore, MD this past Tuesday. We talked about The Storm, the first book in the Dogs of the Drowned City series, the real-world inspiration for the story, and how I created a dog’s eye view of the world for the series. I loved digging into Shep and Callie’s world with them!

The best part of the visit was the Question & Answer session at the end. Everyone asked such awesome questions! One interesting type of question that came up was whether I would explain why a certain character had to die or why she made a particular choice.

My answer to all these questions was the same: “I know what I think made that character do what she did, but what do *you* think?”

I answered in this way not to be coy, but because I don’t have answers to those kinds of questions. These questions suppose that I have some sort of decoder ring for the books, that I, as the author, can tell you the “real story.” But the coolest part of being an author is that there is no decoder ring! I only have control over my book until I hand a final draft off to my editor. Then, my little conglomeration of words is on its own. You, the reader, can make of it what you want! And, assuming you find evidence for your understanding in the details of the story, you’re going to be right! Because there is no right!

What was awesome about Tuesday’s visit was that the students in the class came up with great responses to these types of questions. Their answers reflected a deep understanding of the characters and why they would make certain choices in certain situations. And they basically said exactly what I was thinking, which is a great comfort to me because it suggests that I actually got down onto the page what I had floating around in my head!

Thank you so much, Ms. Bradunas’s class!

In more Dogs news, there’s a real-life perfect storm brewing on the Atlantic Ocean! There’s no telling how strong it will be when it arrives, or even where or when it will make landfall, but cities along the coast are preparing! If you live in an area with a hurricane warning, be sure to look into your emergency shelter options and see if you need to make alternative plans for your pets. If you want to learn more about hurricanes, check out my description of how I came up with the devastating combination of hurricanes that make landfall over Miami in The Storm! Most importantly, stay safe!

What I’m reading: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (I’ve got to get myself a kefta!)

What I’m watching: The Alpocalypse concert! (I went to my first Weird Al Yankovic concert last weekend and it was *awesome*!)

What I’m listening to: “Cult Logic” by Miike Snow (this band is amazing—thank you, Jordan—and yes, that is the correct spelling)

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