Greg Kincaid, author of A Dog Named Christmas and Christmas With Tucker, is back with another heartwarming novel that highlights the plight of shelter animals. We asked Kincaid to share his inspiration for these touching stories.
Writers write for a lot of different reasons. My writing had its roots in something simple: storytelling for my children. I wanted their bedtime stories to be fun, but to also supply some of the ethical and moral blocks they needed for building principled lives. My children are all grown now, but still the writing that excites me the most has these same qualities: good stories that also question our priorities and challenge our principles. Stories that can change us for the better.
It’s actually pretty easy for us to ignore life’s injustices. Typically, we either pretend the problem doesn’t exist at all, or more often, we rationalize that it’s an unavoidable fact of life. Good stories open eyes that have been long shut.
For example, for many years, I did not have the courage to step inside of an animal shelter. I rationalized that I was better off not knowing what went on behind those doors. One day, I read a startling statistic about euthanasia rates. In America, five million dogs are needlessly put to sleep every year. It happens because, like me, most of America turns a blind eye to the plight of shelter dogs. In A Dog Named Christmas, I wrote a story that brought some light to this issue. In this book, Todd McCray helps his family and his community to find a Christmas home for all the dogs at his local animal shelter.
With the help of Petfinder.com and Hallmark, after the movie version of the book aired, we launched a nationwide holiday fostering program based on the same fostering ideas that were contained in the book. Over three thousand community animal shelters have participated in the program and tens of thousands of shelter dogs went home for the holidays and never went back to a shelter again. [If petfinder’s fostering link is live, let’s consider adding it here].
This is the power of fiction in action: to ask questions and to invite light where there has been darkness. To open shut eyes.
A year later, in my novel, Christmas with Tucker, I asked another question. Why do so many people think it is perfectly acceptable to keep their dogs tethered, chained or otherwise left isolated in small spaces? When you think about it, it’s cruel. In this novel, young George McCray takes the Irish setter, Tucker, off the chain and into George’s home and heart.
In my recent novel, A Christmas Home, I turn to another troubling problem. In these tough economic times, how do we make priorities? How can families and communities hold on when the government has to let them go? In this book, the character Todd McCray returns from A Dog Named Christmas. It’s five years later and budget cuts have forced the local animal shelter to close their doors. Todd loses his job and a lot of dogs lose their temporary homes. Todd and his girlfriend, Laura, like so many of us right now, have to dig deep to rediscover themselves and find the right opportunities, not just to make a meaningful living for themselves, but also to save the lives of 34 soon-to-be-homeless cats and dogs.
Follow Greg Kincaid on Facebook.