10 Questions for Alison Pace

Today's guest: Alison Pace Why we love her: Alison's books are charming and completely unique.

Her latest: You Tell Your Dog First (Out tomorrow, November 6th! Pre-order it here.)

The scoop on it: You Tell Your Dog First… About the date you just had…about the questionable results of a medical test…about the good and the bad…about everything.

For years, award-winning author Alison Pace was a dog person without a dog. And then, she got Carlie—a feisty and fluffy West Highland white terrier. She could weed out bad boyfriends with a sniff of her button-black nose and win the hearts of lifelong friends with an adoring gaze. Suddenly, Alison had a constant companion and confidante, who went with her on long morning rambles in Central Park, on trips to the country and the beach, and on her search for inner peace, love, and happiness. Through Carlie, Alison found herself connected to the world as never before.

Our thoughts: The essays are funny, heartfelt and so much fun!

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll pick the winners after 3pm PST on Monday, November 12th.

Fun fact: Check out Alison's Tumblr account where she often posts fun pics of her dog Carlie--of course!

Where you can read more about Alison: Facebook, Twitter, and her website


1. The title of your book is You Tell Your Dog First. What are some "secrets" you've told Carlie before anyone else? Hi Liz and Lisa! Well, I am a person who talks a lot to her dog so I imagine Carlie is privy to a lot of information before many other people in my life.  One of the things about living with a dog is they do see you at all times, your best, your worst.  They kind of know everything.  I’ll tell Carlie news before I tell anyone else and if something is getting me down, she might be the first to know that, too.  I do spend a lot of time talking to people, of course, but Carlie, by virtue of her constant company is usually, as I say in the title, first.

2. On that note, what's the story behind the title of your book? The title actually comes from one of the essays in which I was having a bad dating experience and found myself checking in with Carlie about it fairly frequently, sort of in a thinking out loud way, and how I sensed she had a better idea about this person than I did.  She was not a fan from the start.  And while the book is about a lot more than dating (there’s New York, friendship, career, family, real estate!) that essay really got at something, sort of what we just talked about in question 1: dog as not only companion but confidant.

3. How did you find your dog, Carlie? How did you know she was "the one?" I got lucky. Carlie was a former show dog who needed a home and I happened to randomly get connected to her breeder as I was looking for a dog.  As with so many things in life, it was just really good timing.  As you’ll read in the book, Carlie was just especially lovely from day one.  I think it is different with dogs than it is with people in terms of “the one.” I never really thought of it like that, but yet, of course she is.

4. You've written several fictional books about dogs. But this is your first memoir about them. Why now? I’ve spent so much time writing about fictional characters and their dogs and so much of that has been inspired by my own relationships with dogs and my somewhat unique upbringing with dogs that I thought it would be fun and a new challenge to turn the lens around and write about all the things that had inspired me to put dogs at the center of so much of my fiction.  And it was fun, and it was also huge challenge.

5. Do you have a favorite essay in the book? Well, of course I love them all, right? But if I had to do, let’s say, a top 5 as I know you ladies are fans of the top 5, I’d go with: “The Hotel Upper East Side” about searching for a dog-friendly apartment in New York City; “Swim, Doggie, Swim” about my try-out to be a monitor at a dog pool; the aforementioned “You Tell Your Dog First”; “On Bright Green Shirts and Jack Russell Terriers” as it touches on friendship and family and dogs and “Fabio” which is about Carlie’s dog walker.  Yes, Carlie’s dog walker is really named Fabio.

6. Where's the most interesting place you've traveled with Carlie? Ah, that’s actually covered in an essay called “Carlie is Ready for her Closeup” in which Carlie and I roadtripped to the Berkshires for a photo shoot.  We also went on a hiking trip together which was adorable if only for the special hiking harness Carlie had to wear:

7. What are some of your favorite books about dogs? I loved You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam, Walking in Circles Before Lying Down by Merrill Markoe (that book had me at the title, such a good title), Sighthound by Pam Houston (I studied writing with Pam Houston and I think she writes about dogs so brilliantly), and Roger Rosenblatt’s Lapham Rising and not just because it’s narrated by a talking Westie.  I also loved Marley and Me but it broke my heart a little bit at the end. Oogie was so touching. Books and dogs: my two favorite things. I could go on and on.

8. What are your favorite things about having a dog? Any downsides? (Be honest!) I love how cool dogs are and how kind. I love the myriad charming things they do and how they each really do have their own unique “personalities.” I love how smart they are, how wise. I love meeting other dog people and I love seeing the positive effects dogs have on their people.  I love the bond I have with my dog.  The downside: guilt! It doesn’t take a lot for me to feel guilty but I feel guilty when I leave Carlie alone.  I feel guilty that she doesn’t have a yard.  This translates into a tremendous amount of time walking in Central Park so maybe it all evens out.  But I hope that at some point in her life, Carlie gets a yard.

9. Any thoughts of getting another dog? (Or is that like asking if you're going to have another baby?) Ha. I’m certain that I will always have a dog, hopefully more than one, so, yes: many thoughts. Right now though, I don’t have any immediate plans.

10. Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it? I am! I’m back to fiction now and I’m working on a novel that’s actually a little bit of a departure from what I’ve been doing up to this point.  It’s a bit heavier and I’m looking at some subjects I haven’t touched on yet, but then there is still romance, New York City and dogs.  Likely with me, and books, there will always be romance and New York City and dogs. Not a bad thing.

We agree! Thanks, Alison.


Liz & Lisa