Saturday, September 6, 2014

Interview With Author Jeff Bauer

 Today's Guest Author
Jeff Bauer

   I apologize for having been away from my blog longer than I would have liked, but to make up for my rather lengthy absence I've got author interview #3 with Mr. Jeff Bauer. Above I've placed a rather out of the norm head-shot. It's a wonderful picture of Mr. Bauer in his SCUBA gear. As you read everything I've got to say about the author you'll come to understand why I felt this picture was more appropriate then a more formal head-shot. Anyway, what's the fun in formal & normal.

   I first heard of Mr. Bauer when I won a Goodreads Giveaway for his book called Sadie Sapiens. This is not his first book, he's actually written two other books before Sadie Sapiens. They are SCUBA based stories & you could quite possibly call them The Josh Jenson Chronicles. Book one of the series is called The Cavern Kings & book two is Wakulla Bones. While I will briefly mention these two books, my main focus in this blog will be Jeff's latest book Sadie Sapiens.

   Jeff Bauer is a SCUBA instructor who specializes in teaching cave diving. So, it's no surprise that his first two books The Cavern Kings & Wakulla Bones would cover this topic. As a SCUBA diver myself, I have to say that I'm excited to see that someone with knowledge on the subject has written a fictional series showcasing this recreational activity in a light that both avid & novice divers alike can respect & enjoy. Often I've found that any book that even talks about SCUBA diving fails to approach it in a realistic or even respectful manner. So, a dive instructor writing a story about it should take the subject to a level that I've never seen before & can't wait to read.

Here is a fun pic of your friendly neighborhood Ranting Bookworm having fun diving in Maui. I miss it terribly, both diving & Maui. Since I currently can't do or have either then reading Jeff's books about the fictional dive instructor Josh Jenson will have to satisfy my appetite for the moment & fill the gaping hole that not being able to dive has left inside me.
Now back to the more important subject of Mr. Bauer & his latest book Sadie Sapiens...

My Synopsis
   Jeff Bauer also happens to be an animal lover who helps rescue chihuahua's. Yet another interest that bleeds into his writing. Sadie Sapiens, his third novel is about a Chihuahua named Sadie. The story is fictional, as you may be able to tell, since it's a story about a girl named Emma who discovers her new puppy is smarter than your average dog. Actually, Sadie turns out to have the intelligence level of your average Homo Sapiens, get it? Sadie Sapiens, Homo Sapiens?... Anyway,  fictional characters & dog talking skills aside, the book also approaches the subject of dog guardianship & what can happen to an animal outside a loving environment. The author covers everything from puppy mills & animal shelters to dog fighting & abusive/ neglectful pet guardians. All this is intelligently narrated through the eyes & voice of a little chihuahua named Sadie. Still, the Sadie story doesn't end here. The author has planned another Sadie book that is currently in the works. So, if you enjoy book one, don't fear, your next Sadie fix is on its way. One final word, there are a few points in the book that are sad or upsetting, actually the book starts out with one of the saddest beginnings I've ever read, but it's all done with the utmost respect & never without reason.

The Ranting Bookworm's Review of: Sadie Sapiens
(FYI: this review was written  a few months back before I got word a sequel was being written)

   One word describes this book the best: Unique. I loved the unique idea of a dog with a higher consciousness then your average dog learning to communicate with humans. The title of the book is explained near the end, but it makes sense if you think hard about it before you get to that part. There were times I disliked people in the book & stuff that happened that put me on edge, but really I think it's a sign that a book is well written when you want to yell at a character for doing something you don't like, LOL. Nothing happened without good reason. The author has a smooth easy to read writing style. Obviously, Jeff Bauer (the author) chose chihuahuas as the star dog for this book because he loves them & rescues them. I can appreciate someone who loves a pet so much that they use them as their personal muse for creating a story about. I only hope that someday I can do for my ferrets what Mr. Bauer has done for his chihuahuas. I could see there being a sequel to this book. I don't want to giveaway why I think that, but if you read it you will understand what I mean after you read the last sentence of the book. If there is a sequel, Ill be there with wings on my feet to get it. The author did a great job showing the world through the eyes of a dog & making you love her & her human family member Emma.

The following is the Author Interview As Promised
(TRB=the Ranting Bookworm aka Jolene, JB=Jeff Bauer)  

  • TRB- How did you come up with the idea for Sadie Sapiens? Does your love for the chihuahua's you rescue play into it?

JB- I actually have a cute little Chihuahua named Sadie in real life. Her likeness is on the front cover.  She was a rescue, our second one. My wife and I now have five Chihuahuas we’ve adopted and are fostering a sixth from the local animal shelter. You can see some of our pack in a photo at the beach on the back cover. So, clearly we’re either really passionate and caring people or on the verge of being on the next episode of Hoarders.  No, actually we love the little guys and are meticulous about keeping things clean and under control. Luckily, Chihuahuas don’t shed much and easily train to pee pads.

Anyway, as I wrote my first two books about scuba diving I noticed that I always had a Chihuahua on my lap, sometimes two, which made moving the mouse a challenge.  They love to rest their cute little heads on my arm.  Anybody who has loved an animal at one point in their lives wonders just how intelligent they are or can be. We’ve all wished our dogs, cats, ferrets, lizards and other beloved pets could communicate to us on our terms.  Thus, having a dog constantly on my lap during writing was the genesis of Sadie Sapiens – a desire to write a fictional story that could almost be true. A dog, under the right conditions, that could bridge that gap between animal and human intelligence and learn to truly communicate – and not in a Disney-esque cutesy manner.

Writing the early Sadie chapters, about how she and her human “owner”, Emma, discover this miracle was the fun part. I tried to make it just barely believable so that the reader would stop, look at their own pet and wonder, even if just for a moment.  After that, it was just a matter of creating and resolving conflict after conflict for the main characters in the story arc style of modern novels. Along the way I wanted to hit on some hefty topics, like the horrors of dog fighting and forced breeding in puppy mills and the selfless people that work and volunteer at animal shelters. I wrapped it up all in a family drama with a smart dog and let the characters go where they may.

TRB-Before I move on to anymore questions I would like to share some pictures of Mr. Bauer's awesome little Chihuahua crew. I would also like to thank him for being kind enough to send these pictures. I know that some of you are probably more than curious, after reading the answer to the previous question, about what the real life Sadie & the rest of the dogs that helped inspire this book look like. So here you go, enjoy...

Jeff Bauer's Chihuahua Clan

The real Sadie checking out one the authors many hobbies

Stopping to smell the roses, wait, those aren't roses...

The real life Sadie getting ready for bed ;-)

  • TRB- Do you think dog's could ever evolve to be as intelligent as Sadie?

JB- Well, supposedly the Chihuahua has the largest brain size of any dog, relative to their body size, so if dogs were to actually become Sadie intelligent it might actually be a Chihuahua. I’m sure a vet or neurologist would argue there’s not enough “hardware” or “wetware” to bridge the intelligence gap as much as Sadie does. In fact I purposely sprinkled in some pseudoscience speculation, using the scientist character Dr. Sangster.  That leaves room in a future sequel to answer that question (or not).  Who knows?  Maybe Sadie was a product of a secret military intelligence project?  Imagine military trained tiny dogs taking over the world (grin).

  • TRB- What is it about the chihuahua that you love so much?

JB- A few years ago our adult daughter got a Chihuahua one Christmas from a friend, a long haired name Noel, and we “dog sat” one weekend and just fell in love with this tiniest of breeds. It wasn’t too long after that when my wife found a cute black Chihuahua puppy named Bear that we rescued. They are just so portable, loving, easy maintenance and darn cute, it’s hard not to love them. Sure, they get yappy and can sometimes find it difficult to meet new people. We’re not exclusive to Chihuahuas, though – we’ve owned chocolate labs in the past and have other larger dogs in our lives, as well as cats, rabbits, goats and horses throughout the years.

I promote the theory in the book about how dogs became domesticated by purposefully attaching to humans, realizing that by ingratiating themselves to us they have guaranteed shelter and food.  At the risk of anthropomorphizing the relationship we have with our pets, I believe that this may be been the original biological survival strategy but that both humans and dogs alike have reached a higher state of bonding. They aren’t just parasites (even if my vet bill says differently). It’s a mutually beneficial relationship and the perfect breeding ground for animal intelligence to increase to the degree enjoyed by Sadie.

  • TRB- I believe you mentioned that you're in the process of writing a sequel to Sadie Sapiens, how many books can we expect to see in the Sadie Sapiens series?

JB- Short answer – I don’t know yet.  Sadie hasn’t told me all of her stories. My plan is to finish the “Sadie Sequel” and then go write another scuba diving novel, since my scuba fans snap those books up like doggy treats. The Sadie sequel picks up where the last one left off. I am weaving Sadie’s point of view with four other new characters. All are initially separated and we wonder if they’ll ever get back together and under what conditions. If you’ve finished Sadie Sapiens you’ll know who I’m talking about. Each of these characters has a different survival strategy which has been lots of fun creating and weaving. I’ve got plenty of juice left to finish that Sadie book and write another, and another, if demand and time permits. In this one I’m also letting my love for science fiction out a tad more but trying to keep it character-driven (even if the characters happen to have paws and fur).

  • TRB- I noticed that you have two other books that you've written about SCUBA diving. I'm an avid SCUBA diver myself & I think a story where SCUBA is part of the storyline sounds wonderful, I don't think I've read a book yet that has done that & that's saying something considering how much I read, LOL. I completely understand being passionate about something & you certainly seem to take the phrase "Write what you know" to heart, is that how you decide what to write next?

JB- Yes, “write what you know” is definitely what I did in my first two novels – The Cavern Kings and Wakulla Bones. There aren’t too many fictional scuba stories and few that get the diving right. I’m a scuba instructor and also a cave diving instructor for the non-profit National Association for Cave Diving. Being involved in teaching people how to safely dive underground and underwater, and having the awful task of helping in body recoveries for those who don’t, gives me a unique perspective. A decade of diving in underwater caves provides rich material for scuba fiction. It’s one of the main reasons my small but loyal group of readers enjoys the cave diving series – the diving depictions are as accurate as a splash of chilly North Florida spring water on your face on a hot August afternoon.

  • TRB- When you sit down to write what are some of the comfort items you like to have near you to help your creative juices flow? (music, coffee, tea, a pet, pics, etc...)

JB- Of course a Chihuahua is on my lap. The rest are within reach, patiently waiting their turn by napping on a nearby doggy bed. I try to round robin the little critters so they all feel special.  Something about having a small dog breathing gently on your lap, all soft and warm and sleepy, centers and grounds you. I do enjoy a “spot of tea” (as my sister would say) now and then, to perk up.  Probably the best thing is peace, quiet and long stretches of time. My wife is great at creating the former and since I work full time in IT only the weekends provide the latter. Like all aspiring authors I’d love to quit the day job and just write full time.  Definitely when I retire.

  • TRB- Do you have any favorite hobbies outside of reading & writing? This is a question I would ask most authors, but I think it's safe to say, rescuing chihuahua's & SCUBA diving are 2 of your favorite hobbies, do you have any others that you would like to share that I didn't mention yet?

JB- Flying airplanes, scuba diving, teaching scuba diving, doing fun things with my wife, volunteering at the local animal shelter and taking care of the pack of dogs all make for a very full life.

  • TRB- Who is your literary hero?

JB- I’ve stuck to popular fiction throughout the years after a childhood of science fiction and have enjoyed the works of Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, JK Rowling, Nicholas Sparks and even Janet Evanovich.  Not the most impressive literary bookshelf I’ll admit, but I have tried to read some of the higher brow stuff, like Infinite Jest, with limited results.  So I have lots of literary heroes and like comic book superheroes they all have their own special powers and draw. Now when I read it’s half for pleasure and half for admiring and learning from their craftwork.

  • TRB- I like to believe most avid readers have a book or series that they remember reading as a child or young adult that helped fan the flames of their love for reading & writing, I'm not too embarrassed to admit that mine was the Bunnicula series by James Howe. What was yours?

JB- I loved the Tom Swift series and gobbled them up at an early age. It piqued an interest in the sciences. That transitioned to science fiction, where I read all of the now classic sci fi writers – Asimov, Heinlein, Delaney, Niven, etc.

  • TRB- How often do you write?

JB- I tell you, working full time to pay the bills doesn’t leave enough time to write. I find that to write well I have to be fully rested, comfortable and not mentally distracted by the weekly things that plague people who work.  So, I really look forward to the weekends and holidays, where I can get a nice long burst of writing done.  If a week goes by when I can’t write I feel a sense of loss.  It’s helped by things like this, blog interviews and short contests like the 250 word picture stories on the All About Animals Goodreads group.  What fun those are and it keeps the creative juices flowing, even during droughts.

  • TRB- Is there any advice you might have for new & or aspiring writers that you never got when you first started, but looking back you would have liked someone to have shared with you?
JB- Here’s my list:
1.      Learn how to write properly, either by self-study or by paying a professional editor after you sweat over your first draft of your manuscript. Maybe take an actual writing course, if you have the time and money.
2.      Join a writer’s critique group and be active in it. Learn how to take and give constructive criticism. Don’t forget they are artists with egos possibly as fragile or more so than your own, so be considerate and learn from them. Don’t listen to every little thing that they tell you in your group, though. Consider joining a larger writer’s group or attending a bona fide writer’s conference.
3.      Learn the ins and outs of social media and how to use it to promote your work, if you really care about it. Find that population of readers out there who just might enjoy your stories. This includes doing guest blogs, like this one. Promote the heck out of your work because unless you have a rich uncle in the publishing business, more than likely nobody else will toot your horn. Even your rich uncle may not want to publish your drivel if it’s no good and not marketable.
4.      Consider self-publishing your work in multiple media. It only takes a bit of computer savvy to type and format a document and then learn how to upload it into the various print-on-demand and eBook distribution web sites.
5.      Unless you are a really good graphic artist, pay for a professional book cover.  It’s not that expensive and people do judge books by their covers, be it on paper or digital.
6.      Watch out for businesses or individuals that prey on the hopes, dreams and wishes of aspiring writers. You may find yourself dumping thousands of dollars into a promise of many sales just to discover you ended up with a box of your books that barely sell, a handful of bookmarks with your book image on it, a lame web site and little to no actual promotion.
7.      Learn how to query for a real, live literary agent and keep plugging away at it. Maybe you’ll win the writer’s lottery, maybe you won’t. It’s still a fun game to play, even if you end up with a growing pile of rejection emails, like me.
8.      Get honest reviews of your work. Be willing to give away your work in person or through giveaway systems on sites like GoodReads and LibraryThing. Nurture those places where you stumble across a reader who actually enjoys what you write and if you’re diligent and persistent it might grow from that one reader. Be honest and open with your readership, be it one person or a million. Be humble about any success, be it fleeting or permanent.
9.      Finally, only write if you enjoy doing it.  And keep doing it, even if you don’t get rich or break even. It’s rewarding as hell. If it isn’t, go find another hobby or career.

  • TRB- Did you have a parent or teacher that inspired you to follow your dreams & ambitions for writing?

JB- Thinking back, not really, at least not for literature. I had some excellent science teachers and one really outstanding math teacher in high school.  I wonder, though, if a great English teacher had encouraged me to pursue writing at that age if I’d gone a different path.  No regrets, though.  To paraphrase Chico Escuela of SNL fame years ago, “computer technology been berry berry good to me”.

  • TRB- Did you always want to write or is this a new hobby and or passion?

JB- I’ve always wanted to write but career and family came first for many years. I studied science in college (Biology and Computer Science) so didn’t chose writing or journalism, although it’s always been there, in the back, waiting to come out. I knew I wanted to live life first, experience things and feel triumph and pain before starting to sit down and write about them. I suspect there’s plenty of writers that start the habit after the kids have grown up and left. For me I just woke up one day three years ago and decided I wanted to write a novel.

  • TRB- How do you feel about the whole eReader vs Paper debate?

JB- Being a technologist, I’m not sure there’s much left to debate or that the debate is even valid now – these days we have more choices in how we want to be entertained and educated and rather than gnash teeth about it we should just embrace it.  Some prefer the printed book, I get that. I’ll read a printed book if it’s nearby and convenient. It never crashes, never gets viruses and doesn’t need charging. As a writer it’s much more satisfying to sign and hand a physical book to a new reader than just give them an eBook download link. On the other hand we’re more and more mobile and our devices are everywhere (even underwater and on Sadie’s back). Some people prefer reading eBooks on their computers/laptops/tablets/phones.  I don’t mind that media either – I can be reading a book much faster and more often than having to wait for a physical thing to arrive or go out and get it.  Audiobooks are getting more popular, too.  I came across yet another Amazon service for writers called ACX that you can use to get an audiobook version of your book made. I was lucky enough to find a producer who’s creating an audiobook of Sadie Sapiens. I can’t wait to hear how they vocalize her Doglish.

I’d say the need and hunger for original content hasn’t changed, just the delivery mechanisms.  Writers should aspire to find as many ways and formats to get their work out there, realizing that it’s a consumer-oriented world. Why not provide them with as many formats as they want? With more and more writers out there and more and more ways to distribute work this isn’t the time to crawl into a corner with your tattered book and mutter you’ll never use an eReader.  I do worry about less people reading at all, instead being content with having stories fed to them via TV/movies/streaming/youtube/you name it. On the other hand, turning Sadie Sapiens into a screen play would be really cool. Maybe that’s where all this creativity is headed and nobody will read much.  Only writers and screen play writers will read, the rest of us will get our stories visually? I’m more optimistic than that, though. There’ll still be people that love to read, that love to create their own visuals, their own special effects and their own Ultra Hi Def screens in their minds. There’ll always be bookworms that love to crawl and rant over the printed words. Thank God.

  • TRB- Do you have any other book ideas, aside from the two you already have going, in the works that you can share with us?

JB- Another life’s experience that I’d love to write about is flying – general aviation. An airplane is bound to show up in a Sadie or diving novel or perhaps in its own book one of these days. One of the non-profits we like to fly for is Pilots ‘N Paws  ( – a service that coordinates the transportation of animals from one place to another for medical or adoption reasons. Lots of tragic and triumph in doing that.
I’d also like to write a true hard core science fiction novel and a non-gimmick novel about the human condition. The secret is being patient while waiting for the inspiration.

  • TRB- Finally, is there anything I may not have covered already that you would like to share with us about yourself & your writing?

JB- I want to thank you for the chance to rant on my own about my life and my writing.

   Wow! I loved your answers.  It's been great reading your book & writing these questions that you so thoughtfully responded to.  It's awesome talking to an author that I seem to have so much in common with ( SCUBA, Reading, Writing, & a love for our animals that extends to us rescuing them, except I rescue ferrets). I promise to read your SCUBA diving based books & write about them on The Ranting Bookworm when I get the chance to get a copy & I can not wait for the sequel to Sadie Sapiens.  I'm always a big fan of books about animals, any animals, fiction or nonfiction & I have to say that Sadie Sapiens is one of my new favorite fictional animal books. One more thing of interest for those interested in Jeff Bauer's Sadie Sapiens, evidently, the lovely fictional character Sadie has written a blog. It's very cute & funny & anyone interested in the book should come check it out: . For anyone curious about what's in store for The Ranting Bookworm I would like to share that I'm planning to possibly write a post about the most memorable books I've read & or books that have affected me the most. Then, after whatever rant I post next on this blog, the next interview will be with author  Mary Adair, author of an adult Native American Indian historical fiction book called Passion's Vision. So, while I may not write a post everyday, please don't lose interest, please come back periodically to see what's new on The Ranting Bookworm. I hoped you enjoyed this interview & please feel free to ask questions for me or for Jeff Bauer & I will try & make sure anything you ask gets answered. Take care & I hope to see & hear from a visitor or  soon;-)

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