Mark Mills: Q & A on Waiting for Doggo

Mark Mills: Q & A on Waiting for Doggo

Waiting for Doggo is very different to your previous books. What prompted this change in direction?

Yes, it’s very different indeed! I never set out to write the book; in fact, I was already working on another novel when the idea hijacked me. It all came about over lunch with an old friend during a day-trip to London. We were discussing Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ and Eleanor H. Porter’s ‘Pollyanna’, which share a theme of childish innocence slowly chipping away at curmudgeonly adults. I joked that someone should have a shot at doing “Polyanna with a dog” – a throwaway line, but I couldn’t shake it off. Doggo came into being on the train back to Oxford that afternoon, and I wrote the first few pages that same evening. It was so enjoyable that I decided to put the other novel on the back burner and keep going.

Doggo is a very charming little creature, but are you a dog lover? And what would be your ideal pet dog?

Despite the huge pressure our daughter Rosie has placed us under, we don’t have a dog, and I sometimes wonder if Doggo was born to keep her quiet. I love dogs, though. I grew up on a farm in Sussex surrounded by them, both pets and working dogs (we had Collies for herding the sheep). My ideal pet dog would be a Pastore Maremmano – a Maremma Sheepdog. I got to know them when I lived in Italy. They’re big, proud, independent and fiercely loyal. You just have to remember that they regard themselves as your equal.

As well as working in advertising, Doggo’s owner Dan starts writing cartoons. What extra career would you like to do alongside writing, if you had the time?

That’s an easy one – I would love to be a sculptor as well. It’s an art form that speaks to me more than any other; there’s just something about stirring emotions from a lump of inert matter.

Waiting For Doggo reads like a romantic comedy in many ways. But what’s your favourite romcom?

I can honestly say that I’ve never read a rom-com, although it now seems I may well have written one! The closest I’ve come is probably Jon Canter’s superb ‘A Short Gentleman’ (bigger on the com than the rom, admittedly). It’s a different story on the film front; there’s any number I love, from ‘Groundhog Day’ through ‘Wedding Crashers’ to ‘Silver Linings Playbook’.

Waiting for Doggo is available to buy online today.

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