‘Sleeps With Dogs’ author is Decatur nativeLindsey Grant. Photo provided to Decaturish
By Ralph Ellis, Contributor
A lot of writers live in Decatur. How many grew up here? One homegrown talent is Lindsey Grant, author of the recently-published book “Sleeps With Dogs: Tales of a Pet Nanny at the End of Her Leash.”
“Though I attended Fernbank Elementary and Druid Hills High School, my family lived just a walk away from the Decatur Square where, for years, my dad had his office over what is now Squash Blossom,” she said by email. “On sick days and school holidays, he’s take us down to the Square Table for a biscuit and orange juice.”
Grant started taking care of animals in Decatur but really got serious about it while living in San Francisco. She now lives in Zurich, Switzerland. Decaturish asked her a few questions about her development as a writer, which she answered by email.
She’ll talk about her book at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at the Decatur Library and will read and sign books at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at Charis Books in Little Five Points. Both events are free.
Congrats on publication of your book. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I knew local author Melissa Fay Greene at a young age, and she had a tremendous influence on my desire to write nonfiction and pursue a writing life. At the University of Georgia, I had the great luck of studying under Philip Lee Williams, who remains my friend and mentor to this day.
I was exploring a box of childhood keepsakes at my parent’s house recently and came across a number of “books” I’d written and bound in wallpaper samples, along with a letter I typed up from the perspective of a pretend publisher that was “editing” my book. I had no recollection of this, but this is compelling evidence of my inclination toward writing and publishing! My mom has written many successful textbooks in her field of pronunciation for non-native English language learners, and I think I was always absorbing bits and pieces of the writing culture from watching her.
What was it like for you growing up? Did you write for school publications?
My parents have said that I was always writing. On post it notes, in countless journals, and – in my college years – I was notorious for jotting notes and thoughts on receipts and any other scraps of paper I might have had on hand. I suppose the ephemera in my memory box is a testament to that instinct in me to always be crafting a story or capturing a moment. In the acknowledgements section of “Sleeps with Dogs,” I mention publishing poems in the Fernbank Elementary newsletters, and I went on to edit the Druid Hills High School yearbook.
You owned a ball python named Monty while attending the University of Georgia. What atypical animals have you owned or taken care of?
I don’t know that hamsters are especially atypical, but I had eight in a row simultaneous to owning Biscuit the dog. Biscuit was followed by Seal, a cat, and both have cameos in “Sleeps with Dogs.” By far and away the most exotic animals I cared for in my days as a professional pet nanny were the seven exotic birds that overran one small and very loud bungalow south of Berkeley, Calif.
You were program director for National Novel Writing Month. Did that help your writing?
Tremendously! After working with this nonprofit for almost five years, helping writers around the world get their first draft of a novel written during the 30 days of November, I myself have a much easier time throwing all of my thoughts onto the page in disarray and then coming back to that mess of a first draft and putting it in order. I collaborated with my colleagues there at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on a workbook for writers called Ready, Set, Novel!, which offers exercises and tips for getting over that fear of the blank page and diving into a rough draft.
Why did you move to Zurich? How do you like it?
My husband I and had long talked about living abroad, as he was raised in Hong Kong, where his father and step-mom still live, and I’ve always enjoyed traveling. When he had the opportunity in late 2012 to transfer from the San Francisco Bay Area to Zurich, Switzerland for work, we jumped at the opportunity. And a good thing we did! January will mark two years for us, and we are very happily settled. The pace of life is much slower, our living quarters much smaller, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do you have another book planned?
I have been blogging about my husband’s and my experiences and misadventures as expats in Switzerland at Pat the Expat (my husband is Pat, and I am a forever fan of the book Pat the Bunny). I hope to parlay that growing body of work into a book of essays. Fingers crossed!