Friday, December 27, 2019

Author Interview Macmillan audio review The Dog I Loved by Susan Wilson

I hope you are all enjoying the holidays and now that you've unwrapped all the gifts and Santa didn't deliver on that fabulous read/listen you were hoping for or maybe you're already shopping for the first new year selection have i got novel for you. Way back when I moderated an on-line forum for B&N I first fell in love with Susan Wilson so get comfy and learn a bit about her brand new novel through the author's exclusive interview and my review.
The Dog I Loved

A Novel
By: Susan Wilson
Narrated by: Christina Delaine
Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 11-12-19
Language: English
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Buy at: Audible

New York Times bestselling author Susan Wilson is back another signature heartwarming audiobook—one that begs the question: Can a dog lead the way to finding one's humanity?

After spending years in prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, Rose Collins is suddenly free. Someone who knows about the good work she has done—training therapy dogs while serving time—has arranged for her early release. This mysterious benefactor has even set her up with a job in the coastal Massachusetts community of Gloucester, on the edge of Dogtown, a place of legend and, for the first time since Rosie's whole world came crashing down, hope. There she works to rebuild her life with the help of Shadow, a stray dog who appears one rainy night and refuses to leave Rose’s side.

Meghan Custer is a wheelchair-bound war veteran who used to be hopeless, too. Living at home with her devoted but stifling parents felt a lot like being in prison, in fact. But ever since she was matched with a service dog named Shark, who was trained in a puppy-to-prisoner rehabilitation program, Meghan has a brand new outlook. Finally, she can live on her own. Go to work. And maybe, with Shark by her side, even find love again.

Two strong women on a journey toward independence whose paths collide in extraordinary ways. Two dogs who somehow manage to save them both. A tale of survival and a testament to the human spirit, The Dog I Loved is an emotional and inspiring audiobook that no listener will soon forget.


Susan's Interview:

Susan hi! I absolutely loved your new novel, The Dog I Loved. Tell us a little about it.
This is a novel about two women, both of whom have had their lives derailed by circumstance. The first, Rosie, is a twenty-something woman who is serving time for the voluntary manslaughter of her controlling fiancé. Meghan Custer is in her thirties, a combat veteran who sustained life-changing wounds in Iraq. The dogs that become central to their lives are first Shark, a Labrador that Rosie has trained in a prison program who is then assigned to Meghan as her service dog. The second is a stray that attaches himself to Rosie when her circumstances abruptly change through the intercession of a mysterious benefactor and she finds herself living on the edge of Dogtown.

In the novel you highlight service dogs for wounded warriors, service dogs trained by prison inmates.
I actually know a Missouri inmate that is involved in a similar venture.
How did the idea of this book evolve?
I have my agent to blame, I mean, thank for that. Years ago she had seen something on television about a prisoner-dog training program and kept nudging me toward using it in a novel. One of the things that kept me back from using the idea was having to create a believable prison experience. Plus, it felt like the arc of the story might be a foregone conclusion. Bad prisoner, good dog. Redemption. I looked for a story that would allow for the prisoner and service dog training program while, at the same time, open up the parameters of the characters’ story lines. When I began to think of who might be the recipient of such a dog, and what kind of a relationship might develop, I was on my way.

I liked the fact that you set the novel in a real place, a place with a rather mysterious history.
What made you chose this location?
To be honest, one of the reasons I avoid using real places is that I don’t want to get it wrong in the eyes of readers who know the area. However, a friend, Tom Dresser, introduced me to Dogtown through his wonderful short history of this part of Gloucester. During the late 18th, early 19th centuries, Dogtown was known as a place of women, outcasts from society who were known for the dogs that they kept. To me, that was a perfect place for a former prisoner who is very much an outlier, even from her family.

Your two women protagonists, Rosie and Megan are very different yet they bond beautifully.
How were they during the creative process, did they both behave or did one or both put you through the wringer?
Good question. I would have to say that Rosie was more complicated that Meghan. Meghan is fairly straight forward, wounded, embittered by suddenly becoming dependent, needing to regain her independence. Rosie had to be both sympathetic and believable as someone serving time in prison. As I had at first envisioned the book as having three strong women, two contemporary and one in the past, that was where I really got into the weeds. The third female character, Susannah Day, is the 18th century woman who also was befriended by a large, gray dog, quite like Rosie’s dog Shadow. I had reams more pages for her than I needed and ultimately pared her role down to excerpts from her journal that Rosie finds.

The personalities you gave each dog were evident during the chapters where you gave them voices. Was this always your plan or did you decide while writing the novel to give them a real voice?
I’m so glad that you thought each dog had a distinct voice. Any of us with them know dogs have their very own personalities, so it was easy to assign a “Labrador” personality to Shark and create a more aloof, mysterious dog in Shadow. I have tried to give ‘believable’ voices for all the dogs in my novels. The most vocal dog was my first, Chance, in One Good Dog and again in Two Good Dogs as he addressed the reader directly. For the rest, I try to interpret thoughts and impressions from a dog’s eye view. I hope that one of the things readers enjoy in my books is the fact that I give dogs a chance to participate in the story rather than just serve as props.

I didn’t read the book but listened to it and was blown away by the narrator Christina Delaine, I don’t think anyone could have done a better job, her voices and emotions were spot on and her portrayals of the dogs were perfect.
Were you involved in choosing the narrator?
I am so glad you asked that. Christina Delaine has voiced several of my books and has received awards for her work. She is terrific and when we had the chance to have her read this book, I jumped at it.

I noticed the dog on the cover of the book is a doppelganger for the dog you used to pose with in your promo photo.
Any relation?
You are speaking of my Bonnie who was the definition of Lurcher, i.e. some kind of hound mixed with some kind of terrier. It was really a coincidence that the cover artist, using some sample images of what I had in mind, came up with a dog very close to my late bestie.

Happy New Year Susan and good luck with the new book!
I can’t wait to catch up on the book I missed while I wait for your next canine tale.
Happy New Year to you too. I’m hard at work on the next one…stay tuned!

My Review:

The Dog I Loved
Susan Wilson
Narrated by Christina Delaine
11 hours 4 minutes

Susan Wilson’s latest bandwagon for the dog novel is heartbreaking and heartwarming staring two amazing women and the dogs that loved and healed them. Her plot is poignant, hopeful and realistic featuring a picturesque flowing inspiring dialogue that will bring tears of joy and of sadness. The two stars are both well defined and well developed but of the two Megan, the wounded warrior is the less complicated perhaps because of fitting more into a mold. Making Rosie the more mysterious so Wilson’s attention to every detail about Rosie is invaluable filling in the blanks about how Rosie got to prison, the fear she felt while there and not only from the other inmates, and what she did with her life when given the chance to live it again. Wilson’s giving voices to her canines is a bit haunting and gives just a hint of magical realism to the tale. Any dog lover (including this grateful for her small fur-ball rescue mommy) would lap this up and anyone not having a dog would run to rescue one after reading this.

Christina Delaine’s narration is more than excellent it’s superb giving the audible audience much more than their money’s worth. Thanks to her expressive, emotion filled alto she performs to perfection both male and female voices and her recitation of the dogs is downright goose-bump generating haunting.

When Mary Rose Collins met the man she would tragically and accidentally kill she never knew he would become her abuser or that she would because of his mother’s influence spend almost six years behind bars for his death. She also never could have imagined that being chosen for an experiment training service dogs while behind bars and her first dog would literally save her life. Or that someone would become her advocate and initiate her release from prison.
When Megan Custer left for war she never imagined she’d return home literally broken, a paraplegic angry and afraid. She also never imagined learning about a prison project training service dogs would eventually give her back her independence or that her service dog would save her life. She also never imagined she’d become fast friends with her service dog’s trainer or that she’d be able to pay it forward by setting in motion the woman’s eventual release from prison.

About the author:
Susan is the author of nine well-received novels including her 2010 novel, ONE GOOD DOG, which enjoyed six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and THE DOG WHO DANCED received the coveted Maxwell Medal for Fiction from the Dog Writer's Association of America in 2012.
Her newest novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, was released in March 2016.
Her 1996 novel BEAUTY was made into a CBS Sunday Night Movie starring Jamey Sheridan and Janine Turner and can still be seen occasionally on the Lifetime network.
She is working on her next novel, another work featuring the complicated relationship between humans and the dogs they love.
She lives on Martha's Vineyard with her husband. She has two grown daughters and three grandchildren. Susan is also a horse lover with a Quarter horse mare, Maggie Rose. 

About the narrator:   
Christina Delaine is an accomplished stage and voice actor who has trod the boards of theaters from coast to coast. A 6-time AudioFile Earphones Award-winner, SOVAS Voice Arts Award-winner (3-time nominee) and an Audie Award nominated audiobook narrator, Delaine’s voice can also be heard in scores of commercials and video games. She has a BA from Dartmouth College, an MFA from Brown University/Trinity Rep and a dog named Boo Radley.


  1. I adore the sound of this book Deb. I see its not at Audible for me but one of her other ones is so I put that in my wish list. I don't have a pet because I'd get too anxious about them getting sick, run over etc but I love them in books!! I'll wait till this one comes out in paperback or comes on Audible for me. The hardback is enticing but a wee bit expensive. Tempted though! Oh, just had a thought. The library. Yes its there and I am next for the reserve. Yay!

  2. Sold, sold, sold!!!! Love the sound of this one and loved reading the interview to find out how it came about.

  3. I do like books about animals, though they are always so sad

  4. Wow...Debbie, this sounds so good! I love it and I am crossing my fingers that I find this on audio!

  5. That sounds like a good premise for a book.

  6. Sounds like such a great idea for a book. Thanks for sharing.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Books of My Heart

  7. This sounds like such a heartwarming and fantastic story. I think both women would be interesting to read about, and I like how they are connected by service dogs. Thanks for sharing Debbie :)

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    1. It was really good LIndy I hope you get a chance to read it