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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Emily Joe talks about My Real Dog



Emily Joe is an author, art director and animal lover based in Auckland. For Emily, inspiration is never very far away, sometimes even in her own backyard or lounge room, thanks to the crazy antics of her two chickens and two cats, who make sure there’s rarely a dull moment in the Joe household. Emily talks to NZ Booklovers.


Tell us a little about My Real Dog

My Real Dog is a book for any child who longs for a pet they cannot have. It reframes what a 'real' pet really means, and might make you look at your cuddly toys a little differently.


What inspired you to write and illustrate this book?

I needed this book as a child - or rather, my parents did. I was the child who begged endlessly for a dog - but maybe there was one in my room all along.


What research was involved?

I'm sure all the pro-dog arguments that I made to my parents as a child count as research towards this book.


What was your routine or process when writing and illustrating this book?

My process is always the same - the illustrations and words happen at the same time. I write, draw, write, draw, and the story unfolds organically.


If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Who Let the Dogs Out - Baha Men


What did you enjoy the most about creating this picture book?

I particularly enjoyed drawing all the dogs on the final spread. It took a long time, but it was very satisfying to complete.


What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I bought a new apple pencil nib, having worn one out completely while creating this book.


You recently won the PANZ Design Award for Best Children’s Book for your previous book, My Cats Can See Ghosts. Can you tell us a little about the award and what it means to you?

It was a real honour to win this award, especially considering the other nominees were such beautiful books. Everyone in the publishing and design community has also been so supportive and welcoming, which has made the win feel extra special.


What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Lion Guards the Cake by Ruth Paul, which took out the best picture book at the 2022 NZCYA awards, is a real inspiration to me. I love the rhythm of the words, and the integration of the illustrations.


What’s next on the agenda for you?

My first book was about cats, my latest book was about dogs - one can only guess what my next book might be about!



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