Q: What inspired you to write Pookah Wants a Home?
A: About five years ago I found a puppy on the street and brought her into my home. While I ultimately found her another home that was better suited for her needs, during the time we were together, the love I felt for her was so pure and deep, and unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
I began to think about her life before me and it broke my heart to think about what hardships she must’ve gone through to have ended up alone on the street. The more I thought about it, the more I started to wish that I knew her backstory and if I was making her happy.
As I’m sure many others wonder the same thing about their own rescue pups, I decided to give Pookah a voice to share her story in order to answer those questions.
Q: What do you think Tanja Varcelija's illustrations add to the story?
A: Because this story is so emotionally driven, what was most important to me in my illustrations was being able to truthfully convey each emotion.
After looking at multiple illustrators, no one was able to bring the emotion to life as beautifully as Tanja was. Her art has a visceral effect which allows the reader to fully connect with and have empathy for Pookah, without which, I truly don’t think this story would be as heartwarming.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: My hope for what kids take away is multi-layered. I truly hope this story will not only help kids better understand the rewards of the unconditional love of animals, but also inspire them to want a rescue dog of their own.
In addition, just as Pookah had felt abandoned and alone but eventually realized that she was loved, I hope that kids that may have had a challenging past can relate to Pookah’s story and realize that they too, deserve happiness and love.
Q: What do you think the book says about the bonds between pets and people?
A: I believe this book depicts that bond as love in its purest form - all encompassing, non-judgmental, unconditional love.
Between a person and their pet, there is a healing power that comes from a shared kiss, a tight snuggle, a passionate greeting, and a playful wrestle that creates a genuine and deep need for each other that is truly incomparable.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I currently am turning my focus onto my screenwriting career, due to some upcoming opportunities.
But I do not intend to end Pookah’s story or my journey into Kid Lit here. Seeing as though I eventually had to find Pookah a home better suited for her - a home with a best friend - my hope is to continue telling her heartwarming story. In addition, I have a few other concepts that I look forward to bringing life.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Pookah inspired a passion in me for a community that I never fully understood. I am now an animal advocate, a volunteer at local rescue shelters, and have learned a great deal about the life-changing effects of the animal rescue community.
It is for that reason that I am using Pookah’s story to give back to that very community. With the purchase of each book, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to different rescue organizations around the country. With those donations, I am extremely excited to be able to help abandoned pups have the happy ending that all of them deserve.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb