I can’t believe I haven’t had Tara Lazar back on my blog to talk about one of her books since 2017! Especially with sequel picture books to my favorite of her books! Well today, we’re going to fix that!
I’m pretty sure everyone knows who Tara Lazar is at this point, but just in case you don’t, let me cover a few of the bases. She’s funny and incredibly generous with her time and support. She’s the inventor of Storystorm (formerly known as PiBoIdMo). She also supports new writers in their endeavors, blogging about their achievements as well as hosting mentorships (like the ones she is doing with PBChat this year). AND she supports unpublished writers by bringing great advice and insight via her author friends’ blogs as well. If you want to learn more about Tara, you can learn more about her at her website.
Her latest picture book BLOOP is hilarious. What more would you expect? The basic premise is an alien that looks remarkably like a dog must come and conquer the earth. Of course. Isn’t that every alien’s objective in every alien movie ever? BUT the kicker here is that doggie angle. Our friend Bloop realizes that he’s already in control. As a “dog” he’s got people waiting on him hand and foot. Isn’t that what a ruler would have? There are some great gags in this book that I really don’t want to spoil with any further description. This is one you will want to read on your own.
Welcome back Tara!
Me: Aliens and dogs. That doesn’t seem like a likely combination, but an alien thinking that dogs run the world? That does! What gave you the idea?
Tara: It’s a running joke with me. Every time I go to a friend’s home, the dog has the most incredible set-up. Poshly pampered pooches! Plush beds, gourmet food—plus they get full run of the house and the yard. They are kings and queens! It’s their world, they just let us live in it.
Me: Aliens are almost always trying to “take over the world” in movies. You use that trope and then veer away from it in some very unexpected and funny ways. Was that always your intent or part of the plot?
Tara: Yes! BLOOP interprets common canine stuff from his alien perspective. The “what it is” vs. “what Bloop thinks it is” gives the story its humor. Then Bloop’s final lines hit me and I said OF COURSE! It all felt surprising yet inevitable, which my agent says is the formula for a perfect ending.
Me: As usual, there are some very humorous asides in this story (like fire hydrant robots and bacon). Were those always in the story or were there many revisions? How many times did you have to rewrite this story to get to the final version we see now?
Tara: Those things were in it from the beginning. I thought about this story for so long before I wrote it, that the first draft came out well. My revisions aren’t necessarily about adding jokes, because I write with jokes in mind. Revision, for me, is about fixing the story arc and refining language. I ensure the story flows logically from one beat to the next. Then I use more apt verbs, alliteration, internal rhyme, and unique turns of phrase. It has to be satisfying to say aloud.
Me: Makes sense! Why is it important to you to make young readers laugh when they read your books?
Tara: When reading is fun, it becomes a life-long love. It’s just that simple.
Me: I completely agree. Mike Boldt’s illustrations are perfect for this story. But I have to ask, did you imagine a green pug as the main character? Was that a surprise when you first saw it? Were there any other illustration surprises for you?
Tara: I keep my mind blank when it comes to character appearance—because I’m not in control of illustrations, so why imagine something that will never match my vision? Thus, I’m always surprised to see them come to life! At first, I wasn’t sure Bloop should be green, but I didn’t know why. The entire editorial team was thrilled with Bloop, so I went with it. Of course he should be a green pug! Anything else now seems absurd!
The dogs in the story were also surprising. I didn’t know which breeds would make an appearance! On Twitter I asked people to help me name them. So far, the main three are called Wilford, because he looks like Wilford Brimley; Clive, because that’s what won the vote (I still don’t know why); and Rolo, maybe because the Dachshund looks like a roll of chocolate-covered caramel…?
Me: LOL! That’s awesome. What is one thing that surprised you about writing this story?
Tara: How I hadn’t written it long ago, given my penchant for thinking if aliens came to earth, they’d think the dogs are in charge!
Me: What is your favorite alien (from movies or books) and why?
Tara: E.T. from the movie. I was the exact age of Eliot (and also with divorced parents) when that movie came out, so it was easy for me to put myself in Eliot’s place and think something so fantastic could happen to me. Plus, E.T. looked adorable in that blonde wig!
Aww! I love that movie too. That was the very first movie I can remember crying at because I was upset about what was happening to the characters. Good choice!
Dear readers, if you haven’t yet had a chance to read this book, you must track it down. Read it to laugh. Buy it for the dog lovers in your life and make them laugh. Give it to young readers and watch them laugh. Because I guarantee, every reader will find at least one thing to laugh over in this book. And laughter heals the soul. Or is that heels? 😉