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Interview with Bill Boggs

Bill Boggs

Long-time TV Host Bill Boggs has just come out with a novel about a very funny English Bull Terrier, Spike, with a wry sense of humor and his rise to fame and the price he pays for that fame. He likes to say that the book is inspired by reality and that Spike's master Bud follows the same career path Bill has traveled. He is an Emmy-Award winning TV talk show host, producer, author, and professional speaker.

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
A. I have had a unique relationship with my imagination for the last three years as I channeled the voice of a very funny dog onto the page on my new novel. The voice comes through me only when I write. It’s not something I could access in everyday conversation. The dog’s name is Spike. So, a dog has been talking to me from…who knows where?

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?
A. Yes, it just was released by long-time publisher Post Hill Press. It’s The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog: as told to Bill Boggs.

Q.3 Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing looks like to you?
A. Evoking laughter from my readers. The Spike story is a satirical novel. I have a long history in comedy writing, producing and performing, so in my writing I am looking to elicit laughs by shining a bright and irreverent beam on human foibles, television, human behavior, and our “culture” today.

Q.4 What inspired you to write The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog? 
A. For the past several years, people have been suggesting that I write a memoir. I’ve got other plans for that, but I thought it might be interesting to take an element from my life and spin it into a story that has some echoes of a memoir. The idea involved a dog I had named Spike, who frequently appeared on my first TV talk show, the syndicated “Southern Exposure” out of High Point, N.C. Because of his on-camera antics, he was popularly known all over the south as “Spike The Wonder Dog.” Most sadly, he was run over shortly before I left High Point for my big break hosting a daily New York TV program. “What if,” I wondered, “Spike hadn’t died, but had come to New York with me and became a huge star in today’s world of TV and social media?” In the first sentence of the first page, his voice came to me. It is a thrilling experience for a writer to have something new moving through him like that. The irreverent, comedic voice of my central character, “Spike the Wonder Dog” was flowing. He had me laughing! Laughing at a dog’s voice in your head, you ask? Yes. Spike has been talking to me for the last four years, and you probably wouldn’t want to know what he’s actually thinking about YOU right now as you’re reading this.

Q.5 To craft your words, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
A. Yes, I must travel through my home to my desk and the MacBook Air on top of it. About 67 steps.

Q.6 When was your last memorable learning curving?
A. Good question. It’s going on right now. I am learning about book promotion on social media and how to harness the power of Instagram.

Q.7 What is something readers would be surprised to learn about you?
A. When I was around four years old, I was walking around the house with a pencil in my hand pretending it was a microphone and interviewing people. I’m one of those lucky people who made his childhood dream come true because as far back as I can remember, I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be like the TV hosts, I was watching. Not sure about the growing up, but that’s what I’ve ended up doing in life. I’m a blessed man.

Q.8 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
A. Yes, I read reviews. I’ve received all good reviews so far for The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog, and all have mentioned “laugh out loud” funny writing. Gratifying experience to have reviews like that. Notably, I once did a stage show called “This Must Be Love,” based on the music of Rogers and Hart, where I had to sing many songs. I had never done a full-scale music revue before. During the one-month run at the King Cole Room at the St. Regis Hotel, I did NOT allow myself to read any reviews because I thought bad ones would intimidate me. After we closed, I read all the reviews and I did ok. Phew!

Q.9 Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?
A. My beloved, long-suffering girlfriend Jane Rothchild who has a phenomenal sense of humor is a spelling champion and encouraged me to keep going.

Q.10 What do you hope is the biggest takeaway from the book?
A. Laughter, giggles, howls, snickers, screams, snorts, chortles, guffaws, and plenty of them! At a time when we can all surely use a laugh, I’m offering an audacious satire aimed at doing just that. I’d be gratified if some of the takeaways might be that we still have it within ourselves to crack up over each other, even if some of our own sensitivities are tested in the process. I don’t think creativity should be stifled because we live in a sensitive time, rather, I think artists and writers should test the times. Maybe you noticed that there’s a “politically incorrect humor” label on the cover of the book, right there so you know what’s coming at you. Might you be fearless enough to read on?

Q.11 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. Of course it’s the other end of “getting open,” and being completely in the flow. I feel you have to keep writing and think of the block as rusty water coming out of a faucet. Leave in on and it will flow. In my case, there was no block because Spike was telling me the story.

Q.12 What was the most challenging thing about creating this book?
A. Realizing that I could actually block out the time to work. It had been a decade since my previous book was published, and many more years since my first novel. I’m a naturally busy person. I think many of us, when we approach a project like writing a novel, spend too much time contemplating doubts, and asking ourselves questions like, “I don’t see how this is possible now.” “I’m not really sure I can do it?” “How will I find the time?” That was my inner dialogue when a close friend said, “Look, just sit down, start, and see what happens.” Wait a second! Maybe that was the best piece of advice, because the next day I did, and Spike was there and the writing process took off like a rocket. Telling Spike’s story just became a new part of my life.

Q.13 Do you feel that your career in television helped you with your writing? And if so, how?
A. Yes, yes. Spike’s master Bud follows the same career path I traveled, from a morning talk show in High Point, N.C., to a daytime program in NYC. I found myself “sending up” all manner of things I experienced over the decades - from overly-controlling and self-protecting producers to strange interns, bizarre guests, ageism, sexism, grifting-ass-kissing TV people, hosting the show with a massive hangover, and more, much more. There are also some elements resonating from my days at Food Network and trips to Las Vegas for Showtime Boxing in the book as well. You might not believe it when you read it, but The TV stuff is rooted in, or perhaps it’s better to say, “inspired by” reality. Most of the characters along the way are as well.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I never begin writing knowing that I only have a limited amount of time - meaning, “I have to stop in 90 minutes.” I usually do not write for much more than two and a half hours, but I don’t want the pressure of a limit on my time.

Q.15 What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
A. I’ve had so much good advice directed at me over the years, because, of course, I needed it. In this case, I’m going to call up what a high school classmate wrote in my yearbook on graduation day. “Never lose your sense of humor, it’s the most valued possession you have.” (Note, he wasn’t saying, “Hey, Bill, you’re one smart dude!”) But that advice was a reflection of the success I’d achieved by deploying my humor on the forty-three hundred students at my outstanding school, Lincoln High in Northeast Philadelphia.

Q.16 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. This book is the single greatest piece of work of my career. In a professional sense, it is my best. There are a few other “bests” in my personal life.

Q.17 Tell us about your writing process while you’re working?
A. Deep focus. It becomes a movie I’m seeing in my mind. Before I begin a new day’s writing, I review the previous day’s output and generally make improvements. I continued to polish the Spike material right up to the night before I had to submit the final manuscript.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Marilyn Monroe. I’d like to spend an afternoon with her. Can this be arranged?

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. Act One: An Autobiography by Moss Hart. It is a brilliantly written epic rise from the depths of poverty to the heights of acclaim. It’s set in the world of theatre, which I love and it deals with the creative process and collaborative process behind classic works.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. I am walking in gratitude these days for “Lady” Jane, Trevor, my close personal imaginary canine friend Spike, and for my lucky, blessed, and happy life.

A Few Words for your readers and Books Charming -
1. Never let a moment of inspiration pass without acting on it.
2. Count your blessings every day and believe in the creative power of optimism. 
3. Keep your guard up at all times Covid-19 is lurking everywhere. 

Keep in touch with Bill Boggs -

1 comment:

  1. Wow what an amazing interview 🙌 Loved it ❤️ keep going. You are doing great 😊