I just want to start out by saying your book, Shiloh is amazing! I just read it for about the 10th time and every time I never come out from reading Shiloh dry-eyed. This book absolutely touched my heart. I think Judd is cruel to have beaten his dogs. This book really opened my eyes. When I grow up I want to be a dog charity owner, and save every dog I possibly could! I think it’s amazing how your brain came up with all of these different ideas! If you possibly could I would love a copy of your book Shiloh signed.
Wouldn’t it be great if authors could just write books and give them out free? But just as plumbers aren’t expected to give free service and restaurants wouldn’t stay in business if they gave out free meals, authors make their living by writing and seeing their books sold in bookstores. But I am always glad to sign books that are sent to me or that people bring to author signings. I’m just so happy that you like my book, and hope you do become a dog charity owner.
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.
Comment: How did you come up with the plot for Shiloh?
My reply: Most of my books begin with a certain situation in mind, and then a question. When I actually came across this abused dog in West Virginia, I thought, “I’m sure this dog was abused. What if we found the owner, and offered to buy the dog, but he refused. How could we persuade him to change his mind?” After that, things sort of fell into place. The more I imagined the character of Judd Travers, and then the family situation, of not having much money, scenes kept coming to mind and wrote them.
Comment: Why did you name the dog Shiloh?
Phyllis replied: Shiloh was the name of the real community in West Virginia where I first came across the little dog that inspired the Shiloh series. I figured that if I were Marty, I’d name my dog after the place I had found it.
Comment: When you wrote the Shiloh books, did you ever know anyone like Judd Travers?
Phyllis replied: I didn’t know anyone like that personally, but I’d heard and read of such folks. Some people just don’t know how to care for a dog; they don’t know that chaining up a dog makes it mean, because the dog can’t defend itself if it’s attacked. Others just don’t seem to care whether an animal is happy or not, usually because the owner isn’t very happy.
Comment: Our class watched the movies of the first three Shiloh books. We think that the boy who played Marty in the first movie was the best one of the three. Why didn’t they use him for all the movies?
Phyllis replied: They would have, if they could have kept him from growing. Because there were several years between each of the Shiloh movies, the child actors had grown older and taller by the time the next movie was made. It wouldn’t have affected the adult actors much at all, and for the most part, the producers kept the same adult actors for all of the first three films. But you would have seen a considerable difference among the kids.