Meet Joe Black visits The Wonder Years in the true story of Dog Water Free. It chronicles the journey of a boy named Mikee, whose coming-of-age search for emotional truth lands a dumbstruck orphan from the unlikely side of Detroit front and center before England’s Queen, America’s Maestro, and the first non-Italian Pontiff in more than 400 years.
A family saga at its core, Dog Water Free is an uplifting story of discovery that celebrates a remarkable hero in the person of an ordinary mom who is thrust into an extraordinary situation, the likes of which few could imagine.
Mikee is eleven when his world turns upside down. His mom is sharing news from her doctor. She has a year to prepare her family for her death. Her passing will leave the man she loves and the four children she cherishes alone to fend for themselves. “At least you’ll always have your dad,” she comforts.
Still on her mission fifteen months later, her focus heightens when her husband drops dead.
With that, Mikee’s improbable coming-of-age journey begins.
Michael, how did you come up with the title for your book? Does it have any special meaning?
Thanks for asking. Since DWF is timeless because it’s true, I always knew Dog Water Free would be the title of my coming-of-age memoir. Its meaning is foreshadowed early-on in the book, but is not fully revealed until the final (and title) chapter.
What was the hardest part of this book to write?
Overcoming the urge to editorialize. Ultimately, that’s why I chose to write in first-person/present tense. Even with that, I had to remind myself every day that I needed to trust my readers and simply stay true to the moment. I’m so glad I did. By my reckoning, when a story is worthy, events speak for themselves – so there is no need to spell things out. Readers are smart – and they like putting pieces of a puzzle together. Based on the number of Five-Stars logged on Amazon so far, reviewers seem to be in agreement that there is a lot to be said for a story that shows rather than tells.
Does your book have any underlying theme, message, or moral?
Bow-Wow. Indeed it does. As a coming-of-age adventure, Dog Water Free is a story about a boy dealing with issues of life and death; hope and faith; love, survival and redemption. His journey begins when he is eleven.
What would/could a reader or reviewer say about this book that shows they “get” you as an author?
Great question. Without giving away any spoilers, ‘getting me’ as an author would involve simple acknowledgment that DWF touched their heart and that coming to terms with an issue like closure can be an emotional truth unto itself. As one publishing industry pro recently put it in a private note to me: “Bravo, Michael Jay. Your readers may not remember your precise turns of phrase or exact words, but if they are anything like me, they will never forget how your story made them feel.” Responses like that make me forever grateful that I stuck with it.
Give us an excerpted quote from your favorite review of this book:
“Beautifully written, gorgeously executed. I’m a huge fan of Frank McCourt and I got the same type of vibe <from Angela’s Ashes>…The timeline and plot flowed flawlessly…Dog Water Free is recommended as a MUST read for Memoir readers.”
Where can people learn more about your writing?