What a pleasure to read ALL your Shiloh series for the last 12 years as a third grade public school teacher in San Diego County. Every year there are laughs, tears, and suspense during our read-aloud time.
My class is wondering if Judd Travers is based upon a real character. The query opened with a young fellow (Erick) asking if I thought (the real)Judd would be mad if he read the books, and found himself portrayed as the grumpy old man he seems to be in the books.
The class would be tickled if you were to reply. Perhaps we would have more questions to ask you.
As a dog owner my whole life, your stories have touched me deeply, and provided fertile ground for lessons on animal love and abuse.
I’ve never met anyone exactly like Judd–he’s all from my imagination–but I said this once in a classroom of second-grade kids–that I hoped there wasn’t anyone like Judd–and two boys immediately called out, “Yeah, my dad,” and they were serious. Also, I revisited the area of the country where I had originally found the stray dog who was the inspiration for Shiloh in my books, and some of the students there thought they “knew” who Judd was. The book, I guess, is that real to them, and if there is such a man, I hope he’s changed for the better.
When you write a book, you have to enter the story so thoroughly that the characters just “come” to you on their own, and they seem to instinctively tell you what they would do next. When Judd told Marty, after all that work, that their “contract” wasn’t valid because it didn’t have a witness, I hated that man with a passion. If I didn’t feel it, the reader never would. At the end of the first book, I knew that I wouldn’t trust him, even though he had turned over that dog collar to Marty. So there had to be a second book to show that Judd was really changing. But I still wasn’t satisfied that some time he might come across Shiloh in the woods, be angry that he let Marty have him, and would shoot the dog. What, I asked myself, would Judd have to finally do to ever convince Marty that he wouldn’t hurt Shiloh, or try to get him back? And so I wrote the last two books.