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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed children’s book author Marcangelo Benevenga about his children’s book, Is That A Wolf Or A Dog?, what inspired him to write it, and the creative process he went through.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I was always creative growing up as I first got hooked on R.L Stine’s Goosebumps books series. Comic books and newspaper strips also had a large influence on me. Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes made a lasting impression on me. I find my relationship with Arya to be similar that of Calvin and his tiger Hobbes, complete with being pounced on. I am also a fan of the comic artists Todd McFarlane, Sam Keith, and Jim Lee.

Marcangelo Benevenga and Arya, Is That A Wolf Or A Dog?, author interview on The Table Read
Marcangelo Benevenga and Arya, Is That A Wolf Or A Dog?

When did you take a step to start writing?

I was constantly getting barraged with questions about Arya at the dog park. I took this as an opportunity to both tell her story and educate people about her unique dog breed.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

It took me 6 months.

What made you want to write Is That A Wolf Or A Dog?

I wanted to write this book to share my childhood dream of acquiring a dog I thought would only have existed in books.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Is That A Wolf Or A Dog?

My biggest challenge was trying to pick the right story to tell. There is only so much you can fit in one book! Since it is a children’s book, I had to go back and envision myself back at that age.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

The protagonist is based on my real-life experiences with Arya, but told through the lens of a younger version of myself.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

The antagonist was inspired by my own challenge in raising and training Arya.

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What is the inciting incident of Is That A Wolf Or A Dog?

The inciting incident is when I took a trip to Venice and encountered Arya’s dog breed for the first time!

What is the main conflict of Is That A Wolf Or A Dog??

Marcangelo Benevenga and Arya, Is That A Wolf Or A Dog?, author interview on The Table Read

The main conflict is the challenges and journey I go through in acquiring and developing a bond with Arya.

Did you plot Is That A Wolf Or A Dog? in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

Since the book is based on my real life experiences, the book wrote itself.

Grammarly Writing Support

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Is That A Wolf Or A Dog? need?

I had a great editor who helped me hash out the story more and encouraged me to incorporate more of my family into the story.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Just go ahead and write! Even if you have an idea, write it down. If you never think your story will be good enough, you will never write it.

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Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I plan to continue the adventures of Arya and I!

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes of course! I have always wanted to write a children’s book and I am happy that I got to share Arya’s story.

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