Gail Ledford is a 29 year old dog lover from Georgia. She lost her best friend, Scarlett, after spending the better part of 13 years together in January of 2015. Her first children’s book, The Tail of Scarlett, is a tribute to that friendship.
Why don’t you give us a short rundown on your new book The Tail of Scarlett?
“The Tail of Scarlett” is a children’s book based on a true story of my dog Scarlett and all of the different things that she and I went through together throughout her life (and mine).
What inspired you to write this book?
This is going to sound a little bit sad, but grief is pretty much what inspired me to write this book. I had always wondered what it would be like to write a children’s book, but I could never come up with anything that “felt right” if you know what I mean. And then Scarlett passed away in January of 2015. She was 13 years of age and she had been with me since she was 6 weeks old. That’s a long time! So, of course I was extremely devastated when she passed and I was trying figure out a way to process my feelings (she was my best friend in the entire world after all), but I also enjoy helping others as well and so I thought that I could use the book as a way to help others who may be grieving the loss of their own pet, especially children, because more often than not it’s the death of the family pet where they have their first experience with this kind of thing. I basically wanted to use this book to create a reminder for people to always remember the good times you had, and when the time comes to say goodbye, to always remember that you gave them the best life that you possibly could and to know that you will see them again someday.
How difficult has the marketing process been?
I won’t lie and say that the marketing process has been easy (I’m a terrible liar so that would not have worked anyway, haha!) This is definitely new territory for me and I’ve been learning as I go. I’m lucky that I have a great support system here at home who is willing to help me out in any which way that they can, and I’m very lucky to know a fairly large group of animal lovers who have been able to help me find places where I know where a great amount of my target audience will be. It definitely has not been all sunshine and daisy’s, but I’ve been enjoying it more than I thought I ever would.
So about you. Do you write full time or part time?
I am not a full time writer, at least not at this point in time. When I’m not writing I’m a nanny to my five year old niece (who is in the book by the way!), and I do volunteer work at Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia on the weekends (I live about 30 minutes away from there so it’s not too bad of a drive). There, I work closely with the education department where I educate zoo visitors about the animals that live there along with all of the ways they can help their counterparts in the wild.
Did you always see yourself as an author?
I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, but I don’t think I have always seen myself as an author. I sometimes even have trouble saying it to myself now! Even after the first couple of book sales (which were mainly just to family and friends really) I found myself saying, “am I an author now? Is this like, official?” Then the local newspaper did a small interview with me and I went to my first self-published authors event and I was like, “well I guess I AM an author now, huh?” It’s definitely been a lot of fun.
Is there any other genre you might want to take a crack at?
This might sound rather odd coming from a 29 year old, or maybe it doesn’t, but kind like Young Adult books. I think I ever got the chance that would be the one other genre that I would eventually like to take a crack at.
What made you decide to sit down and write your first book?
As I said before, I’m lucky that I have a great support system here at home, but I think what really inspired me to write this book was that I felt like I needed a way to process the feelings that I was having. Scarlett might have been a dog, but we were together for 13 YEARS. That’s a long time to be best friends with someone, even if it’s a person! So I guess I felt like I just needed a way to finally release all of the emotions I was feeling inside. It turns out that it’s actually helped quite tremendously! And I’m not just talking about me either, others have come up to me after buying the book and have told me that Scarlett’s story has really helped them process their grief, or they bought it for a friend who was going through the same thing and how much it really helped their friend. And this is just the adults! I also know that sometimes it’s hard for adults to explain certain things to their children, and I was hoping that The Tail of Scarlett would be able to aid in that in some way.
If you could be the original author of any book, which one would you choose?
I LOVE J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, so I think if I had to pick it would be that.
What is your favorite movie adaptation from a book?
I have to pick just one? Hehe. There are actually quite a few book-to-movie adaptations out there that I think are quite decent. But if I absolutely had to pick one to put at the top of my list it would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, every time I go back and read the book I can’t help but hear Gregory Peck’s voice every time Atticus speaks in the book. His performance gives me chills every time.
And finally, what are you working on now?
Right now, I am slowly but surely working on another children’s book. This time it will be an animal alphabet book, but because I do volunteer work at a zoo, it might not be the typical animals that you are probably used to seeing. I tend to enjoy animals that are more of what I call “the obscure variety.”
Thanks for taking the time for this Gail! Anything you would like to say or plug?
Well, the most prominent feature of the book is Scarlett’s tail (hence the name) which makes an appearance throughout the entire book. The same goes for her real life counterpart. And if you notice throughout the book, Scarlett’s tail, no matter what she is doing, is ALWAYS wagging, because that’s just the kind of dog she was. So, I guess I would like to just say, “always keep your tail waggin’!”
You can check out Gail Ledford here…