I’ve Got Questions for Alice Kaltman

Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.

Dawg Towne by Alice Kaltman
  • What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?

The title of my book is Dawg Towne. It is a work of fiction, published by the marvelous folks at word west press (and yes, no caps), and will be launched like a frisky puppy into the world on June 1, 2021.

  • In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?

Dawg Towne is about six people, ranging in age from thirteen to eighty, who live in a generic suburb (Towne). Five of these people have lost their dogs. The sixth person, a twenty-something weirdo named Nell, has gotten it in her head that she’s a dog savior, and it is she who has taken the pups, along with many others, swiping them from backyards, backseats, and bistros. That’s what’s “happening” in Dawg Towne, but really this is a book about love, loss, identity, truth, lies and loyalty. You know, the light stuff.

  • What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?

It feels pretentious to say this, but I guess you’d call Dawg Towne literary fiction?

  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?

There’s something almost mystical in the way it pulls you along, and is able to lock into focus at just the right moment to leave a specific, unforgettable detail in the reader’s mind. It’s a miraculous way to build a story. And it is perfection when everything swings into alignment.”

  • What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]

I’d love to think of it as a cross between Francine Prose’s Mister Monkey and Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend. The former for the structure and the humor, the latter for the emotional content and, of course, the dog.

  • Why this book? Why now?

I’d found that when I started writing short fiction in 2013 I’d almost always end up with dogs in my stories. They kept popping up everywhere; uninvited, unannounced, the way dogs are wont to do. Dawg Towne grew out of one short story in particular, “Gifted and Talented”, about Nell and her misguided attempts at puppy protection. After that story was published in Hobart, I got it into my head that the people whose dogs Nell had snatched might have stories of their own. And thus this novel was born.

Why now? Dawg Towne has its darker sides. But while it isn’t all roses and sunshine, my book is mostly fun to read and might warm a few hearts. Seems like something we can all use in the now. I guess another why now is with the onslaught of COVID era dog adoptions; there might be more readers drawn to a book that on the surface is about dogs, but underneath is about the readers themselves. Not that this would ever have occurred to me when I first started Dawg Towne nearly three years ago.

  • Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

Working as a dancer for a bunch of super talented choreographers from the 1980s through the early 2000s. I miss those days, daily.

  • What do you want readers to take away from the book?

A sense of joy, a whiff of possibility, an acceptance of foibles?

  • What food and/or music do you associate with the book?

You’d think as a dancer I’d associate music with my writing. But nope. I can’t listen to anything while I write, or read, for that matter. I get too wiggly, distracted by melody, rhythms, all the feels. I start dancing in my seat. As for food, I’d say: grilled cheese sandwiches. You’ll have to read the book to the end to understand why.

  • What book(s) are you reading currently?

At the moment, I’m not reading anything with my eyes, but I am listening to the audio recording of The Golden Bowl by Henry James, narrated by the phenomenal Juliet Stevenson. She almost makes his dense prose understandable. Nothing like James to make someone (like me) feel like a big dummy. But here’s a list of books I recently read, with my eyes, that deserve all the kudos in the universe:

Little Threats, by Emily Schultz

Unseen City, by Amy Shearn

When It’s Not Called Making Love, by Karen Jones

The Loop, by Dan Sanders

Three Squares a Day with Occasional Torture, by Julie Innis

Alice Kaltman

Learn more about Alice at her website.

Follow Alice on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Buy the book from word west press, Bookshop.org, or Amazon.

About the author

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