Alison Pace

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

Alison Pace's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

It's FINALLY here! A Pug's Tale by Alison Pace (well it will officially be here tomorrow but what's one more day, right?). It's a sequel we've been waiting for since we fell for Alison's completely lovable novel, Pug Hill. And ever since we discovered this gem of an author, we've been in love. Because there's no one quite like her. Her writing is smart and funny and even a little bit quirky- in a good way! And she writes about pugs- what's not to love about that? They're like the cutest dogs evuh! A Pug's Tale Synopsis: There are pugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she's been able to bring along her pug, Max. (Officially at least. Previously she's had to smuggle him in inside her tote bag.)

The occasion: a special "Pug Night" party in honor of a deep-pocketed donor. Max and his friends are having a ball stalking the hors d'oeuvres and getting rambunctious, and making Hope wonder if this is also the last time she gets to bring Max to the museum.

But when a prized painting goes missing, the Met needs Hope's--and Max's--help. In her quest for the culprit, Hope searches for answers with an enigmatic detective, a larger-than-life society heiress, a lady with a shih tzu in a stroller, and her arguably intuitive canine. With luck, she'll find some inspiration on her trips to Pug Hill before the investigation starts going downhill...

Sound like a fun read? We think so! And if you agree, just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of five copies of A Pug's Tale. We'll randomly select the winners after 6PM EST on Wednesday, June 8.

And now Alison entertains us even more with her fabulous list of Do's (love the perfect schmerfect reference!) and a very important Do-over.



1. Let Yourself Say Hokey, Cliched Things Like, Perfect Schmerfect (though, present moment excepted. try not to write them). Always with writing, I believe in putting one foot in front of the other and in not trying to be perfect.  I believe in this with most other things, too.

2. Get a Dog!  This is not just for writers who'd like to write books about dogs.  Really.  Other than solo submarine pilot, writing, the day-to-day routine of it, is one of the loneliest pursuits I can think of (er, um, of which I can think?)  Having a dog with you as you're writing can be not only company but oftentimes inspiring, and always calming.  And I'm a big, huge, tremendous believer in the fact that dogs connect people to the world --from the walks you must take them on, to the people you meet because of them, dogs bring you out into the exterior.  That's a big thing if you're hoping for a career that is so interior.  And I get a lot of thinking done, sorting out of plots and characters and the likes when I'm walking my dog, too.  In my mind, it's win-win-win :)

3. Go Elsewheres! At some point in your life, try to live somewhere where you don't know anyone.  First, you get a lot of writing done at first because you don't know anyone and have no plans.  Bonus!  But also, being in a strange place lets you get to know yourself better and I think, scary as it can at times be, a bit of introspection makes for a *much* better writer.

4. Give Bad Books a Second Chance. About three years ago, I started an essay collection and the first draft was very, very far from what we could call "working." I put it aside and felt tremendously insecure about going back to it.  I started other projects, finished other projects (namely A PUG'S TALE which I hope you enjoyed!) avoiding the unfinished essays. About six months ago I was pretty sure I'd have to scrap the whole project but told myself I'd give it one more no-holds-barred try.  I *just* finished a new first draft of that book and I'm so happy with it and I'm super grateful I dusted it off.

5. But Not a Third.  Let doors close.  I think in writing and in life, it's important to know when something just isn't going to work out.  Listen to the inner voice, and if it's really not going to work out, move on.  There will be other things to write.  There will always be other things to write.


My Do-Over: I wonder what it says about my commitment to my convictions that I'm needing to mull this one over for a bit?  One thing I'd do over would be not to make staying at home and writing all the time such a big career goal.  I've had a bunch of part-time jobs (teaching, lots of administrative assisting, blogging for a doggy site, which was writing but different) over the course of my writing life and the times when I'm writing and working at something else simultaneously are always, hands down, my most productive and happy writing times.  It took me a little bit to figure that out, so if I could go back I'd learn that sooner.

To find out more about the lovely and talented Alison Pace and her other novels including City Dog and If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend, head over to her website and be sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Thanks so much, Alison!


Liz & Lisa

I'm a (book) swinger By Lisa

stack_of_books2 My name is Lisa Steinke and I'm a swinger. A "book" swinger, that is...

I'm ready to face the cold, hard reality that I no longer believe in book monogamy.

I just can't seem to commit to just one novel anymore. I can no longer live in denial as the Jenga-like stack of reads on my nightstand stares me down each night...Each book calling out to me that it should be the one I choose.

I've got saucy books-- Lisa, pick me I have really.. big... WORDS.

Needy books--Lisaaaaa, you haven't held me since last Tuesday....!!!

Arrogant books--Lisa, I'm on the New York Times Best Seller List-- as if this is really a hard decision for you.

But the book I'm going to crawl into bed with is completely dependent upon what kind of mood I'm in. I might need a little romance one night. But the next, I might need a hardback...if you know what I'm sayin' *wink* *wink*

So, that's why I'm currently reading several, er, ten different books.

Yup, I'm seeing ten books at the same time.

But it wasn't always this bad...Really, it wasn't.

In the beginning, it was two, maybe three tops. But before I knew it, I was in double digits...

And now I'm a full-blown book whore.

I read around. I do. I can't help it. I want to be with them all... I'll be in bed with one but I'll be distracted, thinking about the other. It's not that I don't LOVE book "X", it's just that book "Y" is new, exciting, different...

And my whoreyness has never been more evident than while I've been trying to pack for my trip to Maui this week. I haven't been facing the usual packing dilemmas like how many pairs of espadrilles to bring, how many sundresses are absolutely critical or if I really do need aviators and Jacki O's. My true struggle has been deciding which lucky books get to travel with me to a romantic and relaxing vacation in Aloha land.

My instinct is to grab four or five so I can have options, but realistically, I'll probably only read two or three because I plan to be doing *cough* other things with my very human lover.

And although this space issue is a problem a Kindle could easily solve, I just don't think I could whore out with Kindle the way I do with my books. Call me old school, but I'm a gal who needs a little foreplay...who loves to hold and caress her book, to bury her nose deep within its pages and inhale that glorious new book smell. I just don't think I could go all gadgety even if it came down to not having the room for another pair of wedges or needing to forgo that lime green Banana Republic sun hat, even if it was an impulse buy...

So you'd think that knowing I have this problem... Knowing that I'm already juggling ten different stories from ten different books (just keeping all the names straight is a full-time job), that I'd stop adding to my fictional and nonfictional harem. If only it were that simple. If only I had the will power to avoid that place called Barnes & Noble.

I imagine asking a book whore to stay away from Barnes & Noble is like trying to convince an alcoholic to stay away from the bar. Aint .gonna. happen.

So, I pull into the parking lot and tell myself that I am allowed to go inside but I'm not allowed to buy anything. Not even a bookmark. I'll just see what new books are out. No harm in that, right? Just because I'm on a diet doesn't mean I can't look at the menu...

But once I'm inside and all the books are surrounding me-- New fiction, Best Sellers, Recommended Reading, Bargain Bin (actually, I never stop there--even I have limits...)-- I can't help myself.

And before I know it, I'm picking up a book and reading the back cover. Then, the first page.

That's not cheating, right? Books A, B, C, D and E will never have to know. But then...

I. want. it.

I. must. have. it.

I. am. going. to. buy. it.

And as I walk out of the store with my green, plastic bag (I know, I know... I need to go canvas) I vow that I will NOT read the new guy. I'll take him home, put him on my shelf and only after I finish the other books will I even dare crack him open.

But that's never what happens.

I get home and somehow he ends up on my nightstand, staring at me. Begging me to open him. Taunting me with his promises of new and different protagonists and exciting plot twists.

Until finally, I cave.

And that's exactly what happened after my most recent "browsing" excursion to B&N. Even though I obviously had plenty of books to take with me to Kaanapali, I couldn't resist the urge to see what else was out there.

And as I exited with Laura Dave’s, London is the Best City in America (hey, I didn’t have it in paperback & after devouring The Divorce Party, I decided I have a total writer crush on her!), Cathy Yardley’s, Turning Japanese (it sounds so fun!), Alison Pace’s, City Dog (one of the narrators of the book is the dog-- how clever is that?!) and *throat clear* Candy Spelling's, Candyland (c'mon, who isn’t curious about that mansion?), I tried not to feel guilty for being unfaithful to the books faithfully waiting for me at home.

So which books made it into my brand spankin' new Tory Burch beach bag?

A true book whore never reads and tells...

Although please let me know if you come across any books that could help with my disorder. Anything along the lines of…

Book Whores Are People Too!

Don’t Turn That Page! An Addicts Guide To Faithfully Reading


Confessions of a Book Swinger: How One Just Wasn’t Enough...

xoxo, Lisa