I am happy to share the news that "The Story Of Rose: A Man And His Dog," my first e-book original, is officially a New York Times Bestseller, debuting at Number 18 on the August 26 bestseller list. "Rose" is also Number 29 on the New York Times combined print and ebook list, significant given that there is no print version of the book.
This is an important affirmation for me on many levels. First, because it is a tribute to Rose, a remarkable dog who never stops working for me, even beyond her death. Then, because it is the kind of dog story I have wanted to write ever since I read "Call Of The Wild" by Jack London when I was an adolescent. This book very much draws from the idea of dogs as powerful partners with mankind in good or bad times. There is nothing cute or sappy about it. It is about a real dog and a real human in the real world experiencing a full range of joys, sorrows, challenges and revelations. It acknowledges the wild part of every dog, all descended from wolves.
The book is very much apart from the emotionalized and anthropomorphisized views of dogs that have dominated animal writing and bestsellers lists for years. In recent times, the notion of dogs as piteous and abused creatures who need to be saved by us humans has nearly overwhelmed the idea of them as strong and in some ways wild animals capable of fierce loyalty and devotion to people. In fact, they save us much more often than we save them. That was the story of Rose. Her greatest contribution may not be to me but to the idea of helping keep alive the true and beautiful nature of these animals, who have lived with people for thousands of years and served them. Rose always revealed the wolf in her. Her spirit touched so many people.
Finally, in a different way, it is gratifying because I have worked for years to write a book like this combining traditional ideas of narrative writing with newer tools – blogs, videos, still images, even social media – to expand the way in which I could tell a story. "The Story Of Rose" was a fairly radical experiment for me and for Random House. The standard version sells for $2.99, the enhanced version – with eight videos – for $3.99. I am still a bit numb from the idea of a book of mine selling less than a bran muffin. I knew it was not a universally popular idea to write a digital-only book like this – some writers and some of my readers were unhappy about it. But I am grateful for the chance to have done it. I believe strongly that I need to change with the world, not condemn it for changing.
I am grateful to Maria for her support of me and my work, my agent Andy Barzvi and my editors Jen Smith and Hannah Elman for sticking with me and this idea and helping turn out a book I am so proud of. The Random House digital people did an amazing job of creating a new kind of book. "The Story Of Rose" was one of the most creative things I have ever done, and I am touched and humbled that it is finding such a wide and respectable audience.
How sweet. Every time I left the house with Rose, I'd say the same thing: "Rosie, let's get to work." And she still is.,