Today we have a special interview with Mark J. Asher, a photographer well-known for his books Greatest Clicks: A Dog Photographer’s Best Shots, Who’s That Dog: 35 Fabulous Rescues that Found Their Forever Homes, and Old Friends: Great Dogs on the Good Life as well as his very personal Humphrey Was Here: A Dog Owner’s Story of Love, Loss, and Letting Go. Now Mark has written an entirely new book. All That Ails You: The Adventures of a Canine Caregiver is a book of fiction about the photographer’s favorite topic: dogs!
Can you tell us about your new novel?
All That Ails You is told through the voice of Wrigley, a hard-luck dog, who finally finds his place in the world as the house dog at an assisted living facility. Wrigley has free rein of the facility, going where he senses he’s needed, but a big change comes when a curmudgeon, named Walter Kepsen, moves in across the hall from his favorite resident. Surprisingly, through a series of dramatic twists, Walter becomes indebted to Wrigley. I hope you’ll read the book to find out how the story unfolds.
Have you seen first-hand the bond between dogs and seniors?
Yes, in doing research for the book, I spent time at several assisted living homes, which had visits from dogs. I didn’t think it was possible for me to appreciate dogs more than I already do, but seeing the magical way they brought love to every situation they encountered did just that. There’s a passage at the beginning of the book that reads: “Sometimes in life the best thing for all that ails you has fur and four legs.” In my experience watching dogs interact with seniors, that is true.
You’re well-known for your non-fiction dog books. What inspired you to move into dog fiction?
I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing fiction. After visiting a friend of mine’s grandmother at an assisted living home, the seed of the idea for All That Ails You came to me. I thought telling a story about a fragile time in life, through the eyes of a dog, was filled with emotion and creative possibilities. I had a false start with the book and put it aside for a year. I’m happy I decided to pick it back up and see it through.
What’s next for you?
I’ve done a photography book on old dogs (Old Friends), a memoir about losing a dog (Humphrey Was Here), and now a novel about old people. I think I’m going to go in the other direction and work on something that would appeal to kids, and kids at heart. Of course, it will involve dog.