The book, called “Woody’s World: The Diary of a Dog,” is a humorous, yet emotional tale of a dog’s life, told completely in the dog’s voice. It delves into complex issues such as addiction, while also conveying the simplicity and enthusiasm of seeing the world through a dog’s eyes.
“I’ve been told it’s quite funny. At times, it’s disturbing, because there’s ugliness in it; addiction is not pretty,” Payne said. “Ultimately, it’s a dog’s life. … With a dog, you witness their infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and then their senior years. In that way, they’re just like us; we just last longer.”
What’s your background?
Payne grew up in Detroit, though he’s spent a good portion of his life in Kingsport. He spent many years working in the radio industry in various locations, including the Tri-Cities, before transitioning to television and then to newspaper and magazine writing.
What led you to write the book?
Payne said he got the idea for the novel while recovering from a trying time in his life. His marriage of 20 years had ended and his mother’s health was failing, leading to a battle with depression and excessive drinking.
Recognizing he needed help, he went to Cornerstone of Recovery in Knoxville, where the book idea first came to his mind.
“I came up with the concept of ‘Woody’s World: The Diary of a Dog’ — the story of a dog’s life and the story of one man’s struggles with his demons, his redemption and his recovery,” Payne said. “It’s all told through the innocent eyes of a dog.”
Describe the book.
Though the book is fictional, Woody — the dog that narrates the story — was real. The book is a fictionalized story of his life that is based upon some real-life moments.
Payne described Woody as a truly unique dog, one with a level of intelligence and perceptiveness uncommon among other dogs. A black Lab and border collie mix, Woody was adored by everyone who met him, a quality Payne illustrated in the book.
“People would say, ‘I’ve never met a dog like Woody before,’ ” Payne said. “He had an intellect that surpassed what you would expect from a dog. … He also had a keen sensitivity and empathy.”
Where can the book be purchased?
Released this month, the book is available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is currently only available in paperback, though an e-book version is in the works, Payne said.
What do you hope readers take away from the book?
Payne believes the novel will resonate particularly with animal lovers and those who have loved ones struggling with addiction. He also hopes to convey that even on some of the worst days, a dog can make life a little brighter.
“A dog can always turn things around for you,” he said.