A warm welcome to fellow Wild Rose Press Author Christine Grabowski. She’s joining us to share memories of her beloved dog, Rylie, and her Young Adult contemporary fantasy, Dickensen Academy.
Christine: Although I’d lived with a couple dogs growing up, Rylie was the first dog I could call my own. (Okay, maybe my husband Rich called her his.) Rylie was a Welsh terrier. We always joked she had dual citizenship because she was born in Canada before she moved to Virginia where we were living.
Rich and I didn’t have children at the time, so she was our only baby, and we spent lots of quality time with her in those early years. We completed training class after training class culminating in agility training. We had doggy birthday parties and visited dog parks. And we were fortunate Old Town Alexandria was extremely dog friendly, so we were able to take her to doggy happy hour at a local bar and trick-or-treating where a town full of costume-clad pooches walked from merchant to merchant gathering dog treats.
Rylie even brought an important family into our lives when she began barking like crazy at our picture window—a glance out showed a man racing in circles trying to catch his pup, so we ran out to help. Well, his fox terrier, Darcy, became Rylie’s best friend, and her family became one of our closest. Eventually Darcy’s human mom became our daughter’s godmother, and Darcy’s human-sister became our goddaughter. When we moved from Virginia, I still clearly remember Darcy staring sadly out the window as if sensing she’d never see Rylie again.
Fast forward many years and Rylie adjusted to life in Washington State. Although she had to drop out of agility, she happily made way for her own human sister and brother and couldn’t be a better best friend to us all. She kept her puppy antics well into her second decade of life—everyone always telling me that our daily three-mile runs kept her young and healthy.
When I began writing four years ago, Rylie was my constant companion, and I realized how special a mature dog could be. When the house grew quiet after my husband left for work and the kids left for school, Rylie would curl up in our favorite chair while I’d write. She literally fell asleep on my keyboard many times.
Last year, Rylie left us just shy of her 16th birthday. Coincidentally (or maybe not, depending on your beliefs), I received my first writing contract four days after her death. To say that was the most emotional week of my life was an understatement. Getting some of the best news of my life on top of some of the worst is something I don’t necessarily wish for anybody. But looking back, maybe it was for the best because shifting gears to become a published author kept me too busy to dwell on my sadness.
I’m happy to say Rylie lives on in Dickensen Academy as Zoey, Autumn’s Welsh terrier, and as the name of her dormitory (O’Reilly). Although many characters are based on real life people, Zoey is the only one based 100% on one individual.
My furbabies are so important to me, and I expect all my future books will feature my dogs. Stay tuned for a future fairy tale retelling featuring a Max and Ruby.
Dickensen Academy by Christine Grabowski
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Dickensen Academy is a young YA contemporary fantasy that bridges the gap between MG and YA. It is about a teen girl named Autumn, who is invited to a fine arts boarding school in the secluded mountains of the Pacific Northwest. However, she soon realizes the faculty is secretly teaching dream telepathy.
Although the premise is considered a paranormal or a fantasy, the focus of the book is as much about Autumn’s relationships with her friends and family and her struggles in school and for independence—something many teens can relate to.
“I feel like there’s something big we don’t know about. Something those students were protecting. I mean, really, why are we here?”
I thought it was just me who was confused. “Well…the recruiters said we’re creative and focused.”
“Yeah, that’s what Principal Locke said too.”
“And we have the right personality.”
Ben looked up at the sky, sighed then turned toward the forest. “What did he say…something about how it will soon become clear why we’re here, and there’s some ultimate purpose for our creativity?”
“I know. That whole creativity part was a bit bizarre.”
He shrugged. “It seems everyone is going with the flow. But I have so many questions.” Then he touched my arm to stop me, so I turned toward him. “I’m thinking they’re isolating us for some special reason,” he admitted in an embarrassed tone.
I tried not to laugh—he was acting paranoid. But I didn’t know Ben well. Maybe he was joking, trying to freak me out. Or was he hitting on me? The flutter in my chest moved to my stomach. I was already anxious about being away from home and whether or not I could hack the academics. I didn’t need to obsess about anything else. But I still had to know about Ben’s dream.
“So…I also had a dream about Dickensen before I accepted the offer.”
Ben’s head snapped toward me. “You did?”
Look for Christine and Dickensen Academy at:
Barnes & Noble (Paperback) https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dickensen-academy-christine-grabowski/1129315140?ean=9781509221233
Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18276822.Christine_Grabowski
Bookbub Profile: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/christine-grabowski
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave Christine a comment.