Dogged devotion in Megan Anderson’s new book
AUTHOR and illustrator Megan Anderson is a self-confessed dog tragic who also finds people fascinating.
She has combined both of these loves into Fremantle Press new release Word of Dog.
The picture book for grown-ups features whimsically illustrated dogs sharing their candid human thoughts on a range of everyday subjects.
“I’m interested in how people talk and what they obsess over,” Anderson, of Fremantle, said.
“So telling stories in a very human idiom and then handing those stories over to dogs was a fun way to explore humanity and dogs and language and irony.
“The illustrations have a lot of expressive character and somehow they throw a new light on what’s being said. The words take on more gravitas and emotion when they’re attributed to a dog.”
Anderson said she found inspiration from conversations with friends, listening to the radio and eavesdropping while out in public.
“Cafes were especially fruitful,” she said.
“It’s always a risk that people might recognise themselves in something I’ve written, but I hope they would also recognise the affection in it.
“I expect the annoyed waitress who has no time for tax auditors would recognise herself in one of the stories, and the retailer who told me about how many people cry in shops and also how much she hates patchouli. I went straight out of her shop and scribbled it down.”
The former magazine and newspaper feature writer paints on an iPad pro and said all dogs in her orbit were inspiration for her illustrations, although none sat still for very long.
“Actually, it’s the worst behaved ones that tend to feature most,” she said.
“I like the spirited look in their eyes and the way they strut around. I especially like the ones that are very sorry indeed for something naughty they just did.
“I tend to paint straight from my head, using my recollections of actual dogs as inspiration. It’s character that I’m trying to capture, rather than any sort of anatomical or breed correctness.
“One of the first illustrations I did for the book was of a very timid-looking Jack Russell with pigeon toes and nervous eyes. It’s called ‘Almost Certain’ and in the book it’s accompanied by a quote about his fears for life after the apocalypse.”
Anderson said her own dog Indi was a complex golden retriever with a mind of her own.
Word of Dog is available now and an exhibition of artwork from the book will be launched in South Fremantle at Early Work on November 15.