Calling all dog lovers! When 17-year Nano Miller, who was born and raised on seemingly idyllic Dog Island, is forced to confront and come to terms with some hard truths about her world, life as she knows it will never be the same. This fast-paced and thought-provoking Young Adult novel raises important issues for all animal welfare advocates. We had the chance to chat with author, Arin Greenwood about her latest YA novel, Your Robot Dog Will Die. Check out the interview!
Your Robot Dog Will Die
What was the inspiration for Your Robot Dog Will Die and did the whole story come to you at once?
Working as the Animal Welfare Editor at the Huffington Post I was exposed to so many differing approaches to animal welfare. I really wanted to explore the competing ideologies in the animal welfare movement.
At this point I know my process well enough to know that the story will always evolve as I am writing. In this case, I knew the setting and that I would be exploring the different movements in animal welfare. I also knew that my main character would start out blissfully happy and unaware of certain realities and that she would have to confront and come to terms with some very hard truths. The rest of the story – I figured it out as I was going through the writing process.
Arin Greenwood is an animal writer, novelist, and former lawyer living in St. Petersburg, Florida, with her husband, Ray, their dog Murray, and their cats Elf, Jack, and Chappy. Arin was animal welfare editor for The Huffington Post. Her stories about dogs, cats, and other critters have appeared in The Dodo, The Washington Post, Slate, Creative Loafing, The Today Show’s website, the American Bar Association Journal, and other publications. Arin’s third novel, Your Robot Dog Will Die, was published by Soho Teen in 2018. She is also the author of Tropical Depression and Save the Enemy.
How did you transition from lawyer to writer?
I started out as a lawyer and then transitioned to journalism at the Huffington Post in 2011. Originally, I was hired as the DC Editor in Washington and really had the freedom to write about whatever I wanted to that was non-political in DC. I have always loved animals so I gravitated towards stories about DC area animal shelters. The more I wrote and learned about the animal welfare culture, the more I loved it. The more I wanted to know. It was kind of miraculous! Really being able to write about animals felt like finally finding a home. I was getting to help. It’s hard to imagine being at a job that doesn’t involve animals in some major way.
Do you have a favorite character?
That’s a really hard question! I love all my characters, even those that are flawed. The hardest thing as a writer is to share your character’s shortcomings or to put your beloved characters in danger but you have to have stakes. You have to create danger and obstacles so the story moves forward. I do love all the characters in this book. Billy the robot dog, might be my favorite. Might.
The novel is for young adults but you are tackling some controversial topics. What has the response been like from your audience?
You know, I tell other journalists and writers that they should never read reviews of their work but I always do. Of course, the negative ones really hurt but this is an exciting time in Young Adult literature and I have had the opportunity to go into classrooms to meet and engage with my audience. This has been the best outcome! I get to talk with students as they grapple with the issues raised in the book and how those issues apply to the world and to other animals. It’s exciting to see people engage with your material – to see how they respond to your characters and the issues.
What do you hope your readers will see as a “call to action” after reading the book?
I’m hoping they will have more thoughtful, deliberate and compassionate relationships with all animals, not just their own pets. With this book, with all my writing, I’m hoping to share the message that even small shifts in thinking and small actions make a difference. If you eat meat, eat less meat. If you want a companion animal in your life, adopt one.
In all the interviews you’ve given about the book, what’s the one question no one asked that you wished they had?
No one has asked me where the main character’s name came from. Everyone assumes it’s a nod to technology, computers or robots but it’s actually what we called my grandmother. I couldn’t say “Nana” but I could say “Nano” and that’s how the main character got her name. I wanted to honor my grandmother.
The author with her dog, Murray
What’s next for your readers?
Of course, my new book is animal centered and though I had intended it to be an adult novel, as I started the writing process, it became clear that it was another young adult piece. It will be called Big Pit Bull.
While the release date for Big Pit Bull has not been announced, I think it’s quite clear that any book with that title, will be eagerly anticipated by yours truly!
In the meantime, if you are looking for a last minute holiday gift, or really a gift for anytime, for the young adult reader in your life, we highly recommend Your Robot Dog Will Die. Ms. Greenwood tackles serious subjects such as animal abuse, animal rights, making ethical, responsible and deliberate choices about how we live with and share the planet with animals. She approaches her characters and the material with humor and has made these challenging topics accessible as she presents them without judgment. Given the often brutal and unyielding conversations that surround animal welfare, this is no small challenge and Your Robot Dog Will Die meets it head on.
This book is also available free with an audible trial if like audio books!
OTHER TITLES BY ARIN GREENWOOD
Save the Enemy – (Available as a book, on Audible or Kindle) Young Adult fiction
Tropical Depression – (Available on Kindle) Adult, semi-autobiographical fiction