Writing is a passion. Publishing is a business.


Interview with LISA ROGAK

Lisa Rogak is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 40 books. Her works have been mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, Parade Magazine, USA Today, Family Circle, and hundreds of other publications. She has also appeared on Oprah. Her latest biography, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTHINESS: THE RISE (AND FURTHER RISE) OF STEPHEN COLBERT, was published by St. Martin’s Press in the fall of 2011. THE DOGS OF WAR: THE COURAGE, LOVE, & LOYALTY OF MILITARY WORKING DOGS followed shortly after.

What are you reading right now?

I usually have 10 books going at once. I am reading lots of books on farming and raising sheep, though I have no desire to do so…in my stack: THE DIRTY LIFE, SHEEPISH, THE WORLD’S STRONGEST LIBRARIAN, STRINGS ATTACHED.

What first sparked your interest in writing?

I read voraciously as a kid, but I didn't think of being a writer as an adult. I like to say I became a writer when I learned I could get paid for indulging my curiosity and getting to ask total strangers nosy questions.

What do you love the most about writing? The least?

I love the research part the most.

The least: waiting to get paid.

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I spend very little of my time writing, only about 10%. I'm not sure if that is the case for most writers, but the research takes up the bulk - after I start a book, I research various stories, figure out who to contact, and then how to contact them, and then communicate with them - along with the business end of things. Research is the polar opposite of writing, so I can't do both at once. The writing goes very quickly once the research is done.

What are your passions?

I love to bake and cook. I used to love to travel and spent a few years as a nomad, but now I'm settled back in New Hampshire quite happily. And I have to get outside and move - walk or bike - every day or else I'm cranky at day's end.

What inspires you?

Getting up every day. Each day is a gift.

Why write about dogs?

A lot of the books I write are based on ideas from editors, publishers, and my agent. I've never owned a dog, but am surrogate aunt to several dogs here in New Hampshire. After researching DOGS OF WAR and DOGS OF COURAGE, I really understood dogs a lot better; in a past life I was a crazy cat lady. Today I have no animals.
Why biographies?

Again, because of market conditions: who's popular, who doesn't have a current biography available, etc. That's the kind of writer I am. That said, once I dig into the subject of my book, I'm intrigued and energized by the topic for the length of the research.

How was THE DOGS OF WAR born?

After the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, word got out there was a military working dog on the mission. All of a sudden, people wanted to know more about these dogs. My publisher asked if I wanted to do a book, and we were off and running.

Which do you enjoy more: research or writing?


Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Read everything and just start writing. Create your own reality and ignore the rules.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?

If the photos in my new book ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY: HEARTWARMING STORIES OF ANIMALS CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER don't make you go “awwwwww,” then you should check for a pulse.