Interview with International Bestselling Author & Illustrator Lisa Loucks-Christenson
Lisa Loucks-Christenson is a national award-winning author and photographer, #1 International Bestselling Author and Illustrator of several books, a radio show host, publisher, and gallery-bookstore owner of two stores. One store has over 45-50K new and used titles, both stores feature Lisa’s wildlife art, photos, exhibits, and her books that are sold exclusively in her network.
Today we are talking with Lisa Loucks-Christenson the creator, author and illustrator of the Bow Wow Detectives®.
Lisa, you write a few book series, but today, tell us about your Bow Wow Detectives® brand
For 10+ years I’ve been working on my Bow Wow Detectives® line of products, and the Bow Wow Detectives® sister brand, the Meow Meow Detectives™. These books were literally inspired while I was in the woods working on my bald eagle documentary. One day in the stillness, I met God in my heart, in the quietness of that day, I prayed and asked him if He was leading me to write dog books? I felt like He was through the adventures with my own dogs (Dale, Dani, Shadow, Valley and Ruthie Buttons), my companions that took turns being my daily field dog, but mostly, I took Dale. As I prayed to God, I offered to write the books I felt led to put down on paper if He’d bring on the dogs.
Over the next several weeks, people and their dogs started showing up at my gallery in Wisconsin. I shot portraits of about 150 dogs for the series. My clients knew not every dog would have their own book, but they’d be a character in one. Everyone signed releases so I could use their dog in books, photos, photo cards, and advertising; some gave interviews, and others asked, “What about the cats? Don’t you write any cat stories?” So I started the Meow Meow Detectives™ to publish alongside the Bow Wow Detectives® brand.
The books were written for children, 7+ but there were so many people who wanted books that were for older people, clients that inspired me to create a couple new series for older folks, but my guess is they’l be popular with all ages. I’ll be releasing these over the next year or two, stories about dog heroes, dogs in history, dog stories set across the USA and more. The original books teach lessons through the characters in each book; sometimes its a riddle or a puzzle they solve, other books are mysteries or some dilemma they find themselves in. No matter the situation, the Bow Wow Detectives® always find their answers before heading off to their next adventure.
Tell us about your recent #1 international best-selling book, DON’T EAT BEES!
I released the ebook, DON’T EAT BEES! A Bow Wow Detectives® title before the pandemic hit the USA. It launched at #1 on Amazon Hot New Releases, buzzing back and forth between the #1 and #2 positions in children’s dog books for most of January. It’s based on the true story of my bee-eating German Shepherd. The dog I had professionally trained to be my outdoor field dog who accompanied me, but I could never train him to stop eating bees. I decided to write a personal story, about his buzzy habit. When Dale turned 15, after he ate his ribeye I’d promised I buy him if he lived to age 15, I felt like if I finished his story he would die too soon after I completed it. So I put it aside, until the day I came home from work and took one look at Dale’s face, his eyes told me another story, and I realized he was on borrowed time. I stayed up all night with him, as I promised him I would. By late afternoon the next day I wanted to take a small nap, but instead I decided to finish his book, I knew I couldn’t finish it if he died first. I created around a dozen new illustrations and the story went into an entirely different direction from what I had envisioned as an ending.As I sat with Dale next to me, I wondered if his story might even be a story others would like and I to keep it to myself seemed selfish. When I finished the book, I stamped Dale’s paw print inside the back cover. A permanent record of our journey on earth. He looked over at me with the deepest stare I’d ever seen.he was ready to go home. I had to stay strong, I knew he would hold on—forever if I weakened. I rubbed his head and in the bravest voice I could find inside myself, I leaned over and kissed his head and said, “You will always be my king!” With those words, he fell into my arms and died a few seconds later. When you read the book, you’ll understand the full meaning when I say, “Dale was never a dog . . . he was a legend in the making.”
We’re hearing “buzz” about a possible sequel to DON’T EAT BEES! is this true?
Yes. It’s true. It’s called, HEAVEN CAN REST! It’s the story of Dale the bee-eating German Shepherd who is sent back to earth after an incident in Bee Heaven. I’m illustrating this second book in pastels to keep the art consistent.
What other kinds of books do you write and illustrate?
I’m a wildlife photographer so I record various documentaries that have included: WINTER BUGS!, bald eagles, paper wasps, Giant Canada Geese, white-tailed deer, bear, turtles, cougars and more subjects. Many of these documentaries are still in progress. I also write children’s books, Christian suspense, inspirational, outdoor adventure for middle grade.
What is a typical workday for you?
If I’m taking a field day, it will be a day outdoors for most of the day. If I’m working on my radio shows, I’ll split that day with live broadcasts or recording sessions, every day I work on writing and editing and helping at the larger bookstore in front as needed. In the afternoons I head to my downtown bookstore, Peacock Books & Wildlife Art in the Kahler Grand Hotel across from a world famous hospital, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Once there, I may do a photoshoot or interview with one of my interesting guests, people come from all over the world. The funniest stories come out of me not knowing who they are from: preachers, celebrities, entertainers, dignitaries, famous authors, decorated military officers, farmers, Presidents, Senators, billionaires, a prince, a prime minister of Indonesia . . . there has never been dull day. When possible and if it’s of interest to my client, we’ll do an interview, shoot a picture for my Faces of the Pandemic book (a current project). Sometimes I don’t record anything. Instead, I take a few moments and pray with my guests and share the most interesting parts of their journey. When I go home, either I make dinner or my husband does, and after spending time with my family and pets, I create at least one illustration before heading to bed. On 9/30/2020, I’ll have completed 366 illustrations, one for each day that are the illustrations for my various books and series, Hallowinks, Wolves of Whitewater Falls, a Bow Wow Detectives story, a Meow Meow Detectives story, another Bow Wow Detectives book on the Pandemic as it hit Rochester, Minnesota, and my newest series, The Courtly Cottontails (the art cards are selling out every day, so people seem to like this series). This was a personal one-year challenge that I created in pen and pencil, along with other art projects, paintings, that were not part of this, I must have created over 400 art pieces, not including photos or film footage.
As I close out my day, I thank God for having it, then I ask Him where He needs me most the next day. That prayer works for me, and I never have to come home without a few good stories.
What’s the hardest thing about being a writer and illustrator?
The hardest part is knowing when to end the story or what the last illustration needs to represent before writing closing out the story. I rarely make changes to a completed story, except for correcting a typo once published. Like most things in life, when I’m done, I’m finished. I don’t want to second guess what I’ve made or created by recreating the work. If I did, I’d never move on to the next project.
Is there anything you’d like to share with another up and coming artist or writer?
There always comes the time to do your work, correct your work, and release it, so don’t force your story out before its time, if you are meeting obstacles. Embrace your indecision or stalemate. Ask yourself if there’s something you need to delete, add, or rearrange to make the story work.
Where can we find out more about your book, DON’T EAT BEES!? What format(s) is/are available?
DON’T EAT BEES is available as an ebook on Amazon and our www.BowWowDetectives.com store, and print books through our stores. The Audio book will be released soon.