Sunday, June 14, 2015

Emily-Jane Hills Orford: To Be A Duke

Emily-Jane Hills Orford loves writing about the extra-ordinary people (and special dogs). She writes about real people and real events. Emily-Jane’s stories have appeared in History Magazine, Canadian Stories Magazine, The Curious Tourist Guide, and Western People. She has written several fiction and non-fiction books: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Ukulele Yukon, Letters From Inside, The Creative Spirit, It Happened in Canada (Books 1, 2, and 3), Personal Notes, The Whistling Bishop, Songs of the Voyageurs, F-Stop: A Life in Pictures, Still Delicious, Amazingly Extra-Ordinary Women and To Be a Duke.  An award-winning author, she was named a Finalist for the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards with her book, The Whistling Bishop, and again in Finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards with her book, F-Stop: A Life in Pictures.

Welcome to the blog, Emily-Jane. Have a crisp juicy apple while we talk.

Thank you, Susan. I love apples!

How many books have you written?

Seventeen books published and two in the works.

 WOW! You've been busy.

Give a short synopsis of your most recently published book, To Be a Duke.

After experiencing an unhappy first year of his life, Duke believes that he has found his forever home. To Be a Duke is Duke’s story of adjusting to life in a new home and a family that he quickly grows to love. Life is good, especially when he learns how to be a Duke.
There are other books on the market about dogs, about a dog’s life, about a dog’s relationship with humans. There are even books written in first person (or first dog?), talking from the dog’s point of view. These are similar concepts to my book, To Be a Duke. What differs is the message. To Be a Duke encourages excellence and positive attitudes; it presents life as one to be lived with great dignity and great joy; it teaches us as humans to be as good as our dog(s), to be kind, caring and loving to all of the living creatures around us.

To Be a Duke is ageless in its appeal. It is a true story, which makes it even more appealing. Duke was adopted from a local dog rescue group. Duke’s story awakens our compassion for ‘man’s best friend’ and bears witness to the tragedy that often befalls these beloved pets. As reviewer Faridah Nassozi wrote for Readers' Favorite, To Be a Duke “is no ordinary puppy story. It is a really emotional narration that will make you think twice about your actions towards dogs, and all animals in general. You do not know the inner workings of the mind of a puppy until you have read To Be A Duke.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I don’t think any writer can totally hide their own character. When I’m writing, I’m always referring to myself is so many different ways. Even when we, as writers, say that we are distancing ourselves from the story and the characters, we’re not. Who we are in real life will always appear in our written work. To Be a Duke is based on one of our family dogs, so it’s to be expected that my character would appear in some form in the book, even though the story has been fictionalized.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

I wanted to write this story in first person, from the dog’s perspective. Getting into the mind of a dog is not as easy as one would think. I spent a lot of time observing my dog, trying to understand why he would do the things that he did. I think I was successful, as reviewer Faridah Nassozi wrote for Readers' Favorite, “The choice to let Duke tell his story was excellent and made the story even more touching as he narrated his experiences in the different homes. Emily-Jane Hills Orford did an incredible job and it left me with a new and more enlightened perspective on the life of dogs amidst the emotions, thrills and humor.”

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

Never give up. Even when the rejection letters keep pouring in. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone is going to tell their story in a different way. Just because one publisher/editor doesn’t like the story, doesn’t mean it’s no good. It just means that you haven’t found the right publisher/editor. Keep writing. Everyone’s written story is just as good as another’s. Don’t sit around and wait for the BIG publishing contract.

Take some writing courses and/or participate in writing groups, seminars, workshops. I run classes, seminars and workshops in my hometown for writers of all ages. I also teach online through the Creative Writing Institute:
Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

I always carry a notebook with me. When I’m sitting waiting for an appointment (always a long wait in the doctor’s office), I either write a story, article, or just jot down some ideas. I don’t like to sit idle while I wait, so I’m always writing something in my little notebook.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I have a website:

I also make good use of Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

I have a website:

I am also on Facebook, just google my name and you will find me linked to other articles/stories that I’ve written and other sites that I either connect with or have written about me and my work.

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

To Be a Duke is available in both print and ebook format through Amazon (Canada, US, and International), as well as other online sites. Here’s the link to

Some of my other books are also available on this site, or people can always order my books directly from me:

Good to know, Emily-Jane. I wish you great sales with your books. Thanks for stopping by.