In July 2006 Julia Buckley interviewed Bill Cameron, author of Lost Dog.
One exchange from their Q & A:
Your first novel is called Lost Dog. Is there an interesting story behind the book? How did you come up with your story? Your protagonist?Read the entire interview.
In a way, Lost Dog came about by accident. I’ve read mystery and suspense most of my life, and written since grade school, but for several years I struggled to translate my love of mystery and my love of writing into actual words on the page. I had ideas, but they always seemed to fizzle out. So I signed up for a mystery writing class offered at Portland State University, hoping for guidance and maybe a little inspiration.
The class, led by a writer named Gordon DeMarco, was wonderful. He had a playful, engaging teaching style and encouraged us to experiment. Our first assignment, a kind of warm-up exercise, was to write a scene with an elephant in it. I fumbled around a bit and ended up writing about a guy wandering around a park at dawn looking for a toy elephant his niece had lost. As it turned out, he doesn't find the elephant; he finds a dead body. Gordon really enjoyed the fact that I failed to write a scene with an elephant in it, but succeeded in writing a scene without an elephant in it. He enjoyed the mood of the piece, and I found myself infected by his enthusiasm for what I’d written. That scene, with the missing elephant transformed into a missing plush dog, became the basis for the first chapter of Lost Dog.
Like the novel, the main character, Peter, grew slowly over time. He’s something of an archetypical Portland outsider — not a native Oregonian, but someone who has made Portland his home. He drinks lots of coffee, forgoes an umbrella, and walks everywhere. He loves the city, but he doesn’t always understand it. And like the character of the city, he can be reserved and introspective, but at times he lets his passions loose, often to his detriment.
The Page 69 Test: Lost Dog.
My Book, The Movie: Lost Dog.