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Author Showcase

Four Paws Up for Christina M. Valenti

RT: Welcome to the Reading Tub, Christina.

I fell in love with Varley on the first page, and there are so many questions I want to ask, so let me jump right in!

In the first paragraph of the book, you describe the puppies as being loaded into the wheelbarrow to “go to work.” Could you tell us more about that?

Christina: Every evening on my way home from work in China, I would walk past a wheelbarrow full of puppies. I felt as if they were working in hopes of being purchased. The only time I would see the wheelbarrow was in the evenings, once the sun had set. That is when vendors took to the streets to sell their merchandise. I wondered where this wheelbarrow of puppies was before they came into the city “to work.” That is a part of Varly's story I'll never really know.

RT: That is so sad. Can people adopt the puppies?

Christina: Every night puppies are sold at various markets throughout the country, just like other merchandise. Where I lived, it was really no different than buying clothes, DVDs, toys, etc. from a sidewalk vendor.

Many organizations around the world work to rescue street dogs. They take them to shelters where they receive proper care and put them up for adoption. Even with the help of these organizations, millions of dogs are still living on the streets or being slaughtered for food or clothing.

RT: I would imagine bringing a dog with no “papers” to the United States wasn’t easy. Could you tell us a little bit about that process and how long it took?

Christina: Actually, dogs must get “papers” before leaving China and entering into the United States. Varly had to have documentation of vaccines and meet other criteria before leaving China. Some of the veterinary clinics overseas are geared toward expats (people from other countries) and offer information and meetings to educate people on how to transport their pets. I attended one of these meetings so I could prepare Varly for her immigration.

RT: The title of the book is The Wheelbarrow Puppy Club, and Varly (originally Wu) was just one of the puppies in the wheelbarrow the night you discovered her. Will you be sharing the stories of any of the other puppies?

Christina: Oh, yes! In the next book I am going to share San’s story. It will be more fictional, because the story is based on what I imagine and hope her life has been.

RT: In your story, Wu and San were friends in The Wheelbarrow Puppy Club. Now that you've explained more about how dogs exist and are treated, and that you would see these puppies every night, what was it like having to choose just one puppy?

Christina: It was awful! I mean, I am happy to have saved at least one dog. If I could, I would have rescued all of the dogs that I saw throughout my travels in Southeast Asia.

I am passionate about animals and have a real appreciation for all of the organizations dedicated to saving and finding homes for them. I am planning to volunteer at a shelter called GO Rescue Pet Adoption starting in March once they relocate to Virginia Beach.

Even though I have reached out to a number of nonprofits, I have not heard back. I would like some of the sales proceeds from The Wheelbarrow Puppy club to benefit a nonprofit. On the title page of the book, I suggest that people can donate to the Humane Society International.

RT: Having lived and worked in China for two years, I would bet you have some wonderful moments that would make great stories. Why did you choose to write a children’s book? Had you thought about writing that while you were there, or is it something that came to you more recently?

Christina: Living and working in China was a great experience. I traveled to many countries and met diverse groups of people. The kids I taught were amazing and full of excitement. I am sure I could write many books about the experiences and people I met.

Ever since I was a kid, I loved to write. As a teenager I kept a journal, never really thinking anything would come from my passion for writing.

When I came back to the States, I watched as Varly adapted to life here. It was so interesting to me how she came from the streets of China’s capital city and how she was now living in our nation’s capital. It felt like a great time to sit down and revisit my love for writing.

RT: It is hard to believe that it is almost February! But it still feels like a fresh new year. Do you have any reading (or writing) resolutions for 2015?

Christina: I want to write San's story, which is the next book in the Puppy Club series. I am also working on a young adult romance novel I want to finish.

Wow. That is quite a writing spectrum. Those are two very different audiences.

Christina: My friend Mary Beth is a high school English teacher. I lived with her last summer and during that time she gave me several young adult romance books from her classroom. They were great poolside reading and they were reminiscent of my own teen years. They have inspired me to work on a romance geared at teens based on some of my own experiences.

RT: It sounds like those journals may come in handy after all!

This next question is sort of similar. The Wheelbarrow Puppy Club book is a reflection of your experience in China. How do you think your book would be received in China?

Christina: I honestly don’t know. As I was writing, I did my best to not offend the Chinese culture.

RT: You mentioned earlier in our interview that one of your goals is to show people how easy it is to help with rescuing street dogs. How CAN they help?

Christina: One organization that works very hard is the Humane Society International. You can donate to them or you can inquire about rescuing some of the dogs they have saved from other countries.

I know we have a lot of animals who need homes right here in the United States, so I hope people will rescue a dog or cat from a shelter when they decide to get a pet.

RT: Christina, thank you so much for joining us in the Reading Tub! It has been a pleasure!
: Thank you, Terry. I've enjoyed talking with you about reading, writing, and of course, Varly!

Read more of our interview with Christina on the Family Bookshelf!

Website: http://www.christinamvalenti.com/


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