Thursday, June 26, 2014

Author Interview with Pam Torres

I'm so excited to share with you an interview with Pam Torres, author of the recently released middle grade novel, It's NOT Just a Dog, part of the Project Madison series. In case you missed my Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post, here's a brief summary of the book, which is published by Legacy Media Press:

School's out for the summer and straight-talking Madison and her friend Cooper have big plans for the summer: working at the kennel, training service dogs and creating a dog-walking business—besides writing her dog-blog. Her stepdad has agreed to make Lilly, Madison's foster puppy, a permanent member of the Morgan family, and Madison wants to make the adoption special.

When an injured dog is abandoned, Madison's determined to discover the truth about the orphaned dog. To crack this crime she'll have to sneak around some shady characters. It'll be tricky since her dad isn't happy about her animal detective activities. Her promise not to get into trouble won't be easy. Madison convinces Cooper to strike out on their own, but Lilly is dognapped and Madison finds herself locked in a shed with no way out. She regrets her crime-fighting obsession and realizes her snooping has endangered everyone she cares about. Cooper rallies an unlikely group of rescuers to bust her out.

In the end Madison learns she can depend on her friends and her stepfather. And when it comes to people and dogs, relationships are never simple, and a dog is never—JUST a dog!

And now, on with the interview!

Pam, did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I've always been a writer. As a small child I loved to tell stories and would create my own books using pictures from greeting cards and magazines. I think I started doing it because at that time, reading was taught with "readers" that were very boring to me. Jane said run and Dick said go, didn't keep my interest. 

Unfortunately, my active imagination didn't help my reading skills and I soon fell behind. The negative feedback I received left a horrible taste in my mouth and reading became a chore and it would be many years later before I learned to read for enjoyment. During all that time I filled notebooks and journals with my words, stories and poems.

Writing has always been how I figure my world out and I'm still doing that. 

I'm like that too. Writing is how I think through things. How did the idea for your story emerge?

It started with my granddaughter, Kayla, who's loved dogs since she was a baby. Her first love was White Puppy, a fluffy stuffed dog who still holds an important place on her shelf. Then came Tasha, our Samoyed, a dear gentle lady who brought us love and loyalty, she's been gone for several years, but she'll never be forgotten. Kayla has grown into a compassionate animal lover and tween.

So I asked myself: Could I write a book that would appeal to middle grade children that involved dogs?  I didn't want to write the I-want-a-dog story. I wanted to write something that would entertain and bring awareness to the plight of dogs all over the world. The more research I did the more I realized how much I didn't know. I learned that I could have given Tasha and the other dogs in my life a more fulfilling life. I also became aware of all the dogs and animals in the world that need our help. So, Project Madison was born. 

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your story?

Getting the bones of the story down is the hardest part of creating a story. I usually start with a character or idea and ruminate on it for a while. Scenes will come to me, but they are usually out of order and I’ve learned to sit down and write them immediately. 

Once I have several scenes, then I start piecing together a plot. I’m very visual so these end up on my wall as 3x5 cards that I move around until I start to see the right pattern. Then comes the task of writing my first draft. 

The hard part is pushing through, jotting down notes as I go, leaving blanks so I don’t get lost research until I have the bones down. Once I have the bones of a story then I can start revision. For me this is where the fun begins, adding the meat, the connecting joints and tendons, and finally the seasonings and dressing. 

So interesting! I find it really hard to write my scenes out of order. Each book I write teaches me something. What did you learn through writing your book?

I always do a huge amount of research when I write and this book wasn’t any different. I have notebooks, file folders and filed with notes from books, articles and websites where I gleaned information. This time, besides adding to my already large stack of canine research, I also did a fair amount of Native American research. I came to appreciate their connection to the land and their traditions. 

Do you read other books to inspire or mentor your own writing?

 I have several writing books that I look to for inspiration and mentoring. Recently I read The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass, an inspiring book that breaks down the important elements of a good novel. I have two books that I often refer to during the writing process, Blake Snyder's Save The Cat! and Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. I always try and read at least one new writing book each year. I see myself as a coachable writer who strives to always improve my writing by learning new ways to express myself and my ideas more clearly.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your book or an upcoming project?

I tend to be quite tight-lipped about my projects until they come into the revision stage. I will say that I'm working on the last book in the Project Madison trilogy and this time I'm looking to my readers for where they'd like to see Madison go in this one. So I'm encouraging them to send me their ideas. 

I've also begun a new adventure fantasy with some great characters who explore new worlds. But, that's about all I'm prepared to say. LOL

I'm sure your readers will be looking forward to that. It's such a cool idea to get input from your readers! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

During the month of June the Project Madison Facebook Fan Page will be conducting contests and giveaways, so be sure to check there frequently for a chance to win some great prizes. 

And if you want to learn more about Pam or get in touch with her: 

You can find It’s NOT Just A Dog! at the online stores below:



  1. Great interview! Pam sounds so organized.

    1. Hi Joanne,
      Organized is not the word I'd use to characterize my process. I think it's more like choreographed chaos. LOL
      It's always great to see you!

  2. I saw this book on Literary Rambles and thought it sounded great :) Wonderful interview!

    1. Hello Jess,
      Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to stop by and enter the giveaways on my blog. You could win a book!

  3. I enjoy reading about other writers' processes. Nice spotlight!

  4. Hi Marcia,
    Thanks for stopping by. I always like learning about what works for other writers too.


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