By Meghan Meier
If you have a little bookworm who loves a good read that is full of suspense and mystery, then mark your calendars for April 30. Hooray for Books is celebrating Independent Bookstore Day with the help of author Spencer Quinn, who will be promoting Arf, the second installment in his Bowser and Birdie series.
Scheduled to hit shelves on April 26, Arf brings back the dynamic human and canine duo of 11-year-old Birdie and dog Bowser. This time, unexpected events come knocking at their door and a deep-rooted crime that has shadowed Birdie’s whole life resurfaces. With impending danger drawing ever closer to Birdie, Browser must quickly sniff out the clues to these cryptic occurrences.
What makes this book unique is not just the relationship between Bowser and Birdie, but Quinn’s commitment to ensuring the story sticks to the classic features that make up a mystery. Although Arf is designed for a kid audience, Quinn does not tone down the suspense, darkness and danger that a mystery read naturally possesses. In addition, he strives to ensure his characters are personified in a realistic manner even though the story is told from Bowser’s perspective. “He is an unusual dog in fiction because he does not have any thoughts like a human would have; his thoughts are dog thoughts,” Quinn says.
Quinn is a New York Times best-seller who has published over 30 novels and won the 2010 Edgar Award, but the success he has gained over the years did not spontaneously spring from the ground. As a child he was an avid reader and loved the outdoors. These elements became inspiration for his future writings, but it was guidance from his mother, also a writer, that became his roots.
“I think the most important thing she taught me was not actually technical, but how to cultivate the originality that is in you, the uniqueness of your own voice” Quinn says. “When you get an idea push it as far as you can, dig out the whole mind. Do not just get the easy nuggets in front but really push it as far as you can.”
Although he had the instruction and confidence to write at an early age, Quinn did not fall into the profession until later in his life, when he finally penned his first book in 1980 called The Fury of Rachel Monette.
But how does Quinn, an accomplished author, make sure what he puts from pen to paper will actually catch the attention of his readers? He turns to his most valued critics: his family, who are the only individuals allowed to read his books as they are being written.
As a writer, Quinn is recognized for leaning toward the thriller and mystery genres. But over the years, his works has broadened to include more comedic elements, which are evident the Bowser and Birdie series says Quinn.
Quinn is already hard at work writing his next book, The Right Side, which is expected to be completed next July. He has also been nominated for an Agatha Award for his first book in the Bowser and Birdie series, Woof.
In the meantime, Quinn is getting ready to meet his young readers at Hooray for Books, which he finds is a high point of being a writer. “I love meeting readers” says Quinn. “Writing is kind of a solitary profession When you go in a room full of readers who have read your book or at least interested enough to come hear you, that is very rewarding. I like to hear what is on their minds.”
Spencer Quinn at Hooray for Books
3 p.m. on April 30
1555 King St., Alexandria