About the Author

Author Photo - Jane MayAn interview with Jane May by Mr. Miles, roving canine commentator...

Mr. Miles:  Are you, like myself, a native born New Yorker?

Jane May:  No. I lived on a farm in a northwest corner of Connecticut until I was five.

MM: [laughing] You milking a cow?  Now that’s something I’d pay to see!   So then what happened?

JM:  My parents divorced and my mom re-married a blue-blooded, city slicker.  The complete antithesis of my rather provincial dad.    We moved into an apartment on Central Park West.

MM:  Lucky you!  Man, do I ever love the Park.  So many smells.  So much eye candy. So many bitches, so little time…

JM: [interrupting]  I realize your mind as well as other parts of your anatomy are prone to stray, but can you  please stay focused?   At least until this interview is over?

MM:  I’ll try, but as you may know, we dogs aren’t known for our long attention spans.  Do you come from a large litter? Scrap that.  A large  family?     

JM:  I’m an only child.  Hey, don’t you roll your eyes at me!  Not all of us are spoiled and over-indulged. Unlike some four-legged creatures that shall remain nameless.

MM: Now that was a low blow. 

JM: My apologies, but you did set yourself up.  Next question please.

MM: What were you like when you were a pup?  Were you as much of a cut up as you are now?

JM: No, I was actually very serious. From age nine, my life revolved around the ballet.  In fact, I even rejected a spot at an exclusive NYC prep school because there, academics would take precedence over pirouettes.  My parents, understandably frustrated, finally enrolled me at the Professional Children’s School, a place where I could balance my studies with daily dance classes.  I remember one of my biggest thrills was when I was picked as one of several American kids to perform with the Bolshoi Ballet (on tour from what was still the Soviet Union). And yeah, for two seasons I got to dance as a “Candy Cane” in the New York City Ballet company’s production of “The Nutcracker.”  But my dreams of becoming a famous ballerina were dashed however, when the “puberty fairy” struck and well, I got rather, ah, you know, curvy.  

MM:  As in big teats?  Personally speaking, what’s wrong with that?

JM:  I’m going to ignore that crack. Anyway, I eventually retired my toe shoes and began to study jazz, acting and singing.  Now why are you laughing?

MM: I’ve heard you howling in the shower and it ain’t a pleasurable experience.  Was your teacher tone deaf because you sure as hell are!  

JM: Hey, contrary to what you may believe, people thought I was talented.  In fact, I performed on TV and in several shows; among them a Broadway revival of “Oklahoma” and the original production of “Hair.” And to those of you – most likely males - wondering if I took my clothes off, the answer is - absolutely not!

MM: What the hell are you talking about?

JM:  Never mind.  It’s a generation thing, I’m afraid... Anyway, by seventeen, the frenetic pace of the theatre had begun to take its toll on me.  I yearned for a normal life, and decided to apply to college.  I ended up at Finch, a liberal arts school here in NYC.

MM:  Was it a good choice? 

JM:  Aside from all the snooty debutante types, yes, actually. I had some terrific professors who opened me up intellectually.  Only problem was, with so many new found interests, I changed my major every other month. I used to joke that my B.A. didn’t stand for “Bachelor of Arts.”  It stood for “Bachelor of Ambivalence!”  Anyway, everybody always talks about turning points in their life and one of mine came during the summer prior to my senior year.  I met someone who embodied everything I thought I wanted in a husband. 

MM:  And what was that?  A deep feed bowl and good muscle structure?

JM: Very funny.  No, it was a lot more complicated.  You see, where most girls my age were ga-ga over movie or rock stars; I was obsessed with a dead literary icon - F. Scott Fitzgerald...

MM:  [interrupting] Who?

JM:  Wrote “The Great Gatsby,” among other great American classics?  Come on, everybody knows who he is.

MM: Cut me some slack here.  I may have many talents, but I’m afraid reading is not one of them. 

JM: Sorry, but sometimes I forget you’re a, a, well, you know, a dog.

MM: Through no fault of my own, I might add.  

JM: [Clearing her throat]. Anyway, Fitzgerald went to Princeton.  Which is where this guy had just graduated.  Get the connection?  Judging from your expression, no.   Look, all I can say, is that I had this fantasy about marrying a Princeton guy.  So I could be a part of the romantic legacy and all.  I know, this doesn’t make any sense.  But in those days I had the maturity of a single-celled organism. 

MM: I’ll reserve comment on that one.  So you get hitched to this dude, for reasons that are still unclear to me, and then what happens?

JM: The marriage lasted twelve years.  But we did have two terrific kids, Ilan and Rissa.

MM:  I love them.  Just wish we saw them more often.

JM: [Sighing] Yeah, I know.  But they’re grown up now and have built their own nests.    

MM: So how did you get interested in this writing thing?    

JM: In college actually. Several of my professors urged me to apply to journalism school. Unfortunately, that plan never materialized.  My fiancée was a doctoral student at M.I.T. and I knew once we were married (right after my graduation) it wasn’t financially feasible for me to be in school as well.  Anyway, over the years I always kept journals and stuff but it wasn’t until after my divorce that I decided to try to take my writing to the next level. I had this idea to create a sort of hands-on activity book for kids aged 8-12. In 1987 Abbeville Press published a series of four Memory Box Activity Kits: My Trip to New York City, My Trip to the Beach, My Winter Wonderland Vacation & My Rainy Day Adventures.  Although well reviewed, the books were hard to find.

MM: Why, did someone bury them?

JM:  No, but they might as well have. The books weren’t adequately promoted …

MM:  You mean something like not marking your territory so everybody knows you’ve arrived?  

JM:  [laughing] Yeah, kind of like that.   Anyway, it wasn’t all the publisher’s fault.  They can only do so much for new authors and besides, I wasn’t local anymore. I had moved to Boston. 

MM: Never been to Boston, but I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to ever leave New York.

JM: Long story. Perhaps material for another novel.  But I will tell you this.  Moving to Boston was a decision I regretted. Every single day, in fact. 

MM: Why didn’t you just pack up and split?   

JM:  It wasn’t that simple, I’m afraid.  

MM: So you were trapped.  How did you keep from going psycho?  

JM: Well, I did have my kids to raise and had some part-time jobs. I taught aerobics at a bunch of local health clubs.  Had a large following of devoted students, actually.  I worked at Boston Magazine starting as a receptionist and then moving on to co-author their Sail Boston 1992 Souvenir Program. For a very brief and financially unrewarding period I represented a lunatic photographer.  And finally, I landed a full-time position at Arnold Communications, catering agency meetings and client pitches with home-cooked meals.   Later, on my own, I got this idea to write their company newsletter.  It was a big success.  

MM: So it sounds like life in Boston wasn’t all that bad.

JM: On good days, no it wasn’t. It is a beautiful city and we did have a cool apartment. I had several close friends. The kids were happy.  And in ski season, Vermont was a reasonable drive away.  But on bad days, man, I couldn’t watch any movies set in New York without tearing up!   And then, whaddya know, my son, gets into New York University, his first choice.  And off he goes. 

MM: He’s a smart boy, that Ilan.  Okay, so how did you finally escape Boston? 

JM: Another long story, but here’s the short version.  The real estate market finally opened up and after selling my condo, I ran, not walked, home to New York!  I found a place on the Upper East Side (a move my mom, a die-hard West Sider, thought appalling) and took a snoozer of a job at an investor relations firm.  Several years later, when Ris was mid-way through the 12th grade, I made a serious career change.  Biding the corporate world farewell, I donned boxer shorts, a scummy tee shirt and assumed my new role.  That of a starving writer.

MM: What sense did that make?  Speaking as one who lived in the street and scrounged for scraps, it was no picnic, and….

JM: [Interrupting] Don’t worry; I always managed to have enough food on the table.  Meanwhile, with Ris now months away before leaving for college, the prospect of an empty apartment certainly didn’t appeal.

MM:  No boy friend?

JM:  Certainly not anyone I’d want to shack up with.  So, I decided to find a dog.

MM: Brilliant move!  Unlike most humans, dogs are not high maintenance. Why are you looking at me that way?

JM:  I’m not going to even go there. Anyway, on what was about to be a dateless Valentine’s Day back in 1999, my girl friend, Tre, suggested a visit to the ASPCA to well….

MM:  Window shop?

JM: In a manner of speaking.  But the moment I saw your funny little face…

MM: Excuse me?

Mr. MilesJM: Your handsome little face and it was love at first sight. I knew I couldn’t leave the shelter without taking you home with me.

MM: I’m glad you did. 

JM:  Me, too.

MM: So look, I know I’m terrific and all, but why write a book about me? 

JM: We need a little back story here. Ever since quitting my job, I was lucky to have a screenplay optioned.  As is the case with most movies, nothing happened.  I completed another project but there were no bites.  Discouraged, I decided to turn my original script (“Kangaroo Summer”) into a novel. In the interim, however, I got this idea about weaving my life with you into a story.  About a couple’s relationship as seen from their dog.  Sure the story was fiction, but I wanted it true to the dog’s perspective.  I wanted it realistic, raw, bawdy.  A quintessential New York dog tale.  After all, Miles, you are a local boy.

MM: Damn straight I am!  And awful proud of it.   How did you come up with the  title, Doggy Style?  

JM: From a girl friend of mine.  Over some cocktails.

MM: I, for one, have no concept of time, but how long did this book take you to write?

JM: Several years, because I tossed out the original version. 

MM: Why?

JM: The concept was okay, but the execution was rather obtuse and flawed.

MM: Translation?

JM:  It sucked.  In the new version, I decided to change the tense from present to past, get into the story faster and add a lot more conflict. I also drew on my then present relationship with a man, who, similar to Bob in Doggy Style, was in the midst of a long drawn-out divorce. And subsequently, I imbued the character of Jen with all my frustrations; upping the stakes by making her overly paranoid. In the interim, I met Evan Marshall, an agent/author at a local NYC bookstore.  He was there to promote his latest how-to - “The Marshall Plan to Getting Your Novel Published.”  Evan was intrigued by my book idea and asked to see the first ten pages.  The response was positive and he patiently waited for the completed manuscript some five months or so later. The deal with Kensington came about very shortly thereafterIn fact, they bought my next novel, sight unseen. 

MM: Please tell me it’s not about a cat.  You know my feelings on that “subject.”

JM: No, but one of the main characters happens to be a talking fish.

MM: Okay, this makes no sense.

JM: Relax and let me finish.  “Hooked” is based on a Grimm’s fairy tale and set in contemporary Miami.  It tells the story of a 28 year old guy whose dream of sailing solo around the world gets waylaid when an enchanted fish with magical powers helps him hook a beautiful but as he will discover, greedy Rumanian waitress.

MM: You’ve got a very strange imagination. But if that’s what it takes…

JM:  See, Miles, had I not found you that day in the pound, well…

MM: You might still be a starving writer?

JM:  I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

Mr. Miles - Roving Commentator