Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her new book, Life on the Leash, is Victoria Schade.
Victoria Schade is an author, speaker, and dog trainer known for her upbeat approach to living and working with dogs. She has been featured in The Washington Post, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Reader’s Digest, The Bark, and many dog-specific publications. Victoria has worked on Animal Planet’s annual Puppy Bowl special for the past twelve years. She has served as a pet expert for Petside, Pet360, petMD and PawCulture, writing training and behavior content and appearing in educational videos. Life on the Leash is her first novel.
Hello Victoria. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. Thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
I would love a cup of coffee (cream and sugar please) and a warm blueberry scone, thank you!
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
I’ve written two nonfiction books, Bonding With Your Dog and Secrets of a Dog Trainer. Life on the Leash is my first novel – hopefully of many more to come!
Life on the Leash was released late last year. Can you describe it in just a sentence?
I’m awful at summaries but I’ll try: Life on the Leash is about an underdog dog trainer finding her way in life and love with the help of her two-legged and four-legged friends.
What came first in the creation of the novel – the title, plot, characters or setting when you first set out to write Life on the Leash?
The plot definitely came first. Cora’s adventures were inspired by my time as a private dog trainer. I realized that every time I walked into a different home to work with my clients I was enmeshed in a new drama with new characters … it’s a ripe set-up for storytelling. Add dogs to the equation and it’s a no-brainer!
How long did it take you to write Life on the Leash?
It was a circuitous path to publication. I started writing Life on the Leash during a vacation in Nantucket over 11 years ago. My self-doubts kicked in at 10,000 or so words, and I gave up. Cut to seven years later, in 2015, I was working with a client who happened to be a bestselling author, and I asked if she’d read my draft. She did and responded with the best five words a newbie writer could hear, “I love it, keep going.” From that point I finished it fairly quickly.
Did you need to undertake any research to bring Life on the Leash to life? How did you incorporate this research into your book?
I love doing research, but I didn’t have to do any for my novel since dog training is basically my life.
Where did the inspiration for the lead character of Cora come from?
Life on the Leash started as a roman à clef, with Cora thinking and acting just like me. Then a dear friend read an early draft and remarked that Cora was sort of bitchy – ouch! After my tender ego recovered from that unintentional slight I decided to make Cora the opposite of me and let my inner wise-ass manifest in her bff Maggie.
What was the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing Life on the Leash?
The most challenging aspect was silencing the self-doubts that made me give up the first time, which also dovetails with the most rewarding aspect; once I surrendered to the process I discovered that writing fiction was the most fun I’d ever had.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Life on the Leash?
I really hope that readers will feel happy when they turn the last page. I also hope that it will make people rethink their assumptions about pit bulls. I created Fritz as an ambassador for pit bulls, to show how incredible they are and help people understand that they’re just regular dogs, not the monsters they’re made out to be.
How did you celebrate the official release day of Life on the Leash?
I think it’s important for debut authors to make their release a big deal, so that’s exactly what I did! I wore a cute dress and had a launch party at a dog-friendly café in New York the day Life on the Leash came out, then a few days later I wore a different cute dress and had another party at my hometown book store followed by a raucous after-hours at a bar. It was a whirlwind of love and support!
Can you tell us more about more about your media appearances, such as your magazine contributions, hosting work and television appearances?
People in the states go crazy when they hear that I work on the Animal Planet TV show Puppy Bowl. It’s counterprogramming on Super Bowl Sunday, and it’s basically adorable adoptable puppies “playing” American football for 2 hours, with guest spots from various wild animals like penguins and owls and a capybara, and a halftime show featuring kittens. I’ve been the lead animal handler and trainer on the show for 12 years, which means that I get to coach the pups and kitten players. (Here’s an interview I did at the show this year at about 1:05: https://bit.ly/2SrRPjs ) I also appear on-camera in training tip videos for a variety of pet-centric web sites like petMD, co-starring my dogs and former canine clients. I love it!
Is there a genre you haven’t tried writing yet, but want to in the future?
There’s a suspense/horror novel percolating within this sunny writer! My husband and I have always said that we want to write a horror screenplay but now a novel is looking more likely.
Aside from writing, do you have any interesting hobbies?
I’m sure it’s obvious that dogs are a major hobby, but a lesser-known and much-beloved hobby of mine is dance. I adore it, which is why there’s a Latin dance sequence in Life on the Leash. There’s nothing sexier than making a connection with someone through dance. Much like Cora, the first time my heart pitter-patted for my husband was when he pulled me onto the dancefloor. (Except we were doing a two-step at a country bar, which isn’t nearly as sexy as salsa dance!)
What is next on the horizon for Victoria Schade? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I’m hard at work on edits for my next novel, Who Rescued Who, which is set in England and features family secrets and – you guessed it – dogs!
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
My 2018 TBR pile is still overflowing, but I can’t wait to add these titles to the stack: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton, Sidelined by Suzanne Baltzar, and 99% Mine by Sally Thorne.
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
Such a tough question! I’d invite Benjamin Franklin because that man was incredible!
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Victoria. Congratulations on the publication of Life on the Leash!
Thank you for asking me to do this interview!!
Must Love Dogs meets My Not So Perfect Life in this hilarious romantic comedy about a dog trainer who’s a master at managing her four-legged friends . . . but not so much her love life.
As Cora’s life gets more tangled up than a dog walker’s leashes — and as she prepares to audition for a dog training TV show that may change her life — she has to figure things out before it all goes straight to the dogs.
Charming, witty and warm-hearted, Life on the Leash inspires you to cheer for every underdog looking for love.
Life on the Leash by Victoria Schade was published on 1st December 2018 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Victoria here: