We’re celebrating the launch of Shanna Silva’s
A DOG’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN
(YeeHoo Press, Illus. Agnès Ernoult),
a dog’s hard-earned wisdom about living a happy life,
with an interview and a #Giveaway!
*Hand this book to all animal lovers and growing families.*
5 Questions for author Shanna Silva!
Q 1. How would your sheepadoodle puppy, Drake describe (or review) A Dog’s Guide to Being Human. What tips or insights did he contribute to the book?
Shanna Silva: Erin, thank you so much for having me and sharing my book birthday. Drake would think A Dog’s Guide to Being Human is a good start on important lessons to impart. He’s got some other doggie habits that are brand new for me, which he might think I excluded, such as his ability to open doors, de-fuzz tennis balls in record time, take apart ball point pens, and herd my family like sheep.
Drake actually came into my life after I wrote this book. I always had dogs growing up and as an adult. This book is a collective of my lifetime with them; however, a lot of Drake’s behavior also tracks.
So many dog behaviors are universal, such as their sensitivity to their human’s emotions and energy. Drake’s intuition is astounding and he truly loves all people. He’s very popular in the neighborhood, and has the unique gift of making people happy. That more than compensates for the furniture he’s gnawed through.
From Broadway to #Kidlit
Q 2. Congrats on your two Tony® awards for Once on This Island and The Inheritance. What prompted you to take your own leap from Broadway Producer to children’s author? How are the two paths alike / different?
Shanna Silva: I started working in Broadway about twelve years ago with my husband, Steven. We formed a theatrical production company, Silva Theatrical Group, to produce Broadway and off-Broadway shows that mean something to us. We love nurturing a show from first draft, through development, to out of town runs, and then to Broadway. This truly is one of the biggest joys of our lives.
Before my children, my careers were in other industries such as legal, real estate, finance, and health care. But they were all just jobs for me. I excelled but never emotionally connected to what I was doing. It took a long time to find what I loved, and summon the bravery and initiative to jump in.
Theater and writing for me are about passion. In both genres, I get to do one of my favorite things, which is, to surround myself with talented people. I learn so much from my peers and sometimes pinch myself that I’m in the room. Both theater and KidLit are fundamentally about storytelling, making the audience/reader feel something, finding a connection, and leaving with more than you came with.
My writing is a solitary pursuit. I enjoy being in my head, and getting lost in my writing world. Sometimes, it’s hard to snap out of that world and focus on other things, but I generally function best with a very full plate.
In our Broadway work, I am not the creative. Theater is a collaborative medium. While we have input artistically, the prevue is much broader and includes the business, marketing, and promotional aspects. In addition to having the opportunity to work with my husband (we complement each other’s skillsets), we also get to work with many amazing artists, actors, producers, musicians, and theater folk. It’s invigorating and exciting.
There is definitely overlap between my two careers, and I feel fortunate to be able to do both.
ED note: Another overlap: Teflon skin — see Q 5. below.
Q 3. This seems like a new direction for you in picture books. What discoveries did you make while writing this fun story?
Shanna Silva: My two previous children’s books, Hannah’s Hanukkah Hiccups and Passover Scavenger Hunt, are Jewish holiday books. They both follow the typical KidLit story arc of inciting event-kid has problem-kid finds a solution. A Dog’s Guide to Being Human is a high concept book that’s not plot driven. It’s only about 150 words. There is such an economy of text, which left the illustrator, Agnès Ernoult, with a lot of room for interpretation.
Shanna Silva: When I think about my writing objectively, I know I tend to overcomplicate things both in my thought process and writing. Too many layers. I make it much harder than it has to be. A Dog’s Guide to Being Human is my first manuscript that didn’t do that. It went from idea to completion in a very short time. I really like the writing style and hope I can continue.
Q 4. What surprises did your illustrator Agnès Ernoult bring to your story?
Shanna Silva: So many surprises! I had a picture in my head of what Smudge looked like (Drake), but she created this sweet long eared, pointy nosed hound. He’s expressive, funny and has a bit of a naughty streak (which I love). Overall, I find him quite endearing.
Shanna Silva: Agnès put so much thought into every detail. There’s a lot to look at in each spread, and her palette choice and characterizations set a feeling of warmth and good vibes.
Q 5. What projects are you working on now? Will there be A Cat’s Guide… or A Gold fish’s Guide… in the future?
Shanna Silva: Ha! I think Smudge has more dog wisdom to impart, so I’m hoping there will be sequal(s). I am also working on a high/low YA dystopian book for an educational publisher, and have 3-4 manuscripts in various stages of revision and submission (and rejection). My fellow writers all know about developing that Teflon skin and finding the path forward when things aren’t working. Hopefully, I will have some good news to share soon.
Share, share, share!
Did we mention there’s a #Giveaway?
Shanna is offering EITHER a signed copy of her new book
OR a picture book critique (1,000 words or LESS).
To enter: 1. Follow Shanna Silva on Facebook, Insta and Twitter (see below).
2. Share this blog post on Facebook, or RT it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ADogsGuideToBeingHumanGiveaway
Deadline: August 31st midnight / EST
Spread the word about this fabulous book!
To learn more about Shanna Silva and her books,
check out her web site: www.shannasilva.com and follow her on