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Joe Friedman - Author

About the Author

Joe Friedman was born in Chicago to deaf parents. He has written stories since he was seven and sold his first play at 13. He currently lives in north London and divides his time between writing and working as a psychotherapist. Boobela and Worm is his first book for children.

A Q&A with Joe about his novel, The Secret Dog


Do you have a favourite character in the book? Almost all of the main characters have been inspired by people I got to know or heard about on Skye – Yvonne, the vet, Calum, etc. – and my affection for the real people is, I think, present in how I’ve written the characters. Josh is more of an invention, but one very much based on my experience with patients who have been traumatised by the loss of their mother early in their lives.
What was your inspiration to write this story?
It was a late night conversation in Skye, between the old Skye vet, Neil Stephenson, and my friend Joe, that gave me the idea for a boy who was inspired by a vet to take care of small injured animals on the common. The book developed from this.

What is your favourite scene or moment in the book?  It’s all my baby so there is much about the book I love, but the moments I find most emotionally satisfying are those in which Josh makes an emotional connection with people – Yvonne, his mum, and the final big scene with Calum, where he really begins to grow up.

If you could swap lives with one of your characters, who would you choose and why? This is an interesting question. My first thought was the vet, but then I thought of the day I spent following a vet around, and the places they had to put their hands . . . I think Josh has a pretty good life.

If your book was a film, who would you cast for the lead character?  I’m hoping to get a chance to do this! The boy in Boyhood has now grown up, but I think he would have done rather well eight years ago!  

What inspired you to become a writer?  I’ve written since I was a boy – at first, rather unoriginal versions of comic books I’d read, e.g. about a man with superpowers who wore tights etc. I co-wrote a play with a friend at age ten which we put on in our class at school and then sold. I became editor of my high school newspaper, and at university I wrote a number of plays which won awards at the University of Michigan. So writing, in different forms, has been part of my life since I was young. The idea of writing for children only occurred to me when I had a child myself!

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