Perhaps only a man who calls himself “young at heart” when asked his age would write a lighthearted book dedicated to love between man, woman, and dog. But then the cult of dog lovers is neither small nor exclusive. As George Constable, author of the new, canine-friendly novel Where You Are, says, “I’m sure Doubleday thinks that there are a lot of dog owners who buy books.” When asked to elaborate on dog/people dynamics, Constable waxes poetic on the “complicated society of wolves,” how 20,000 years of breeding have transformed dogs into truly domesticated human companions, and on dogs’ attempts to communicate (cf. Lassie Come Home). To Constable, dogs and domiciles belong together, which is the idea that got the novel’s plot going: “Somebody inherits a house, but a requirement that’s in the will is that the heir must take the dog as well as the house. Of course, the person doesn’t want either the dog or the house, which leads to all sorts of complications,” says Constable.
Where You Are’s instantly familiar characters include Lake Stevenson, a thirtysomething instruction-booklet writer who takes his contentment for granted, Jennifer Dee, Lake’s estranged childhood pal who has blossomed into the consummate real-estate agent, and Ilsa, the dead aunt who manages to bring the couple together through her will and some prime property in suburban Philadelphia. Then there’s Randall, the springer spaniel, whose role in the book Constable says “is very important.” If you don’t like dogs, you won’t like the book. Billed as a romantic comedy of manners, Where You Are never leaves any doubt that Lake and Jennifer will find happiness. Constable says a German publisher was the first to snatch up the book rights; having recently suffered through 20 slasher novels, he couldn’t resist Constable’s light touch.
“I’ve written about everything in the whole world,” Constable boasts, mentioning Neanderthals and a contribution to a 25-volume history of the Olympic games, in addition to his dog novel. For several years, Constable wrote for Time-Life Books, which took him to New York, London, and the company’s local offices in Alexandria. Six years ago, the Baltimore native hung out his shingle as an independent writer and editor in an office at 24th and M Streets NW. You might catch Constable walking his own yellow Labrador retriever in Georgetown’s Volta Park, but be careful not to interrupt their conversation.Ginger Eckert