LARA’S GIFT Author Annemarie O’Brien and Her Real-Life Dogs!

by Ann Jacobus on August 18, 2013

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LARA’S GIFT by Annemarie O’Brien (released August 6 by Knopf) is about a girl named Lara living in Imperialist Russia in the early 1900’s who wants to become the Count’s next kennel master–even though it is forbidden. This is part 2 of ReaderkidZ’s interview with Annemarie.

 Annemarie AUTHOR PHOTO2 high rez with collar ring copy

What was your life like when you were LARA’S  age (versus that of LARA)?

I was a very happy kid. My parents were selfless in raising me (and my siblings) and modeled the kind of parenting that I hope to pass down to my own daughters. My parents made marriage look easy and I see now how challenging it is to raise well-balanced kids in today’s world. I owe a great deal to my parents.

I was no different than Lara in many ways. My first love in life was a yellow Lab named Emma. Like Lara and Zar, Emma and I were inseparable. Emma used to patiently wait for me at the end of our driveway for the school bus to drop me off. We had many adventures together!

Emma also saved my life once when a creepy man tried to lure me into his clutches. Lucky for me nothing happened. Emma came out of nowhere and positioned herself, barking and snarling, between me and him. When he took a step toward me, she leaped up and knocked him down. He scrambled to his feet so fast and ran!

I loved all animals and dreamed of owning a home with lots of land where I could raise anything and everything from cashmere goats to tigers and dolphins.

What were your favorite things to do as a kid?

I really enjoyed sports and animals. I was also a very active kid with boundless energy. I was a lot like the kids in the book, A BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA in that I spent a lot of time in the woods building forts with my dog, siblings, and the neighborhood kids. We created many imaginary worlds.

I played a good deal of kicker and dodge ball as a kid. I wish I could say that I had my nose in a book like most of my writer friends can say. While I went to the library each week with my family to get books, I reserved reading books before bed and chose to play outside during the day.

Did you have pets?

I had all kinds of pets as a kid: a lamb, chickens, ducks, rabbits, a turtle, fish, and dogs.

Where do you write your books? How long does it take?

I write wherever I can carve out some time. I have no problem writing in airports, planes, my car, at the beach or Starbucks, in bed, or at my desk. I prefer to write in my studio, but that is a luxury at the moment because of all the distractions. LARA’S GIFT took me two years to write and about four months to revise with my editor, Erin Clarke.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I have eaten sheep eyeballs in Kyrgyzstan and snails in France. I met and shook hands with the former Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev in the Kremlin. I was an extra in the movie, Philadelphia and chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho … homophobia’s gotta go.” In college, I ate thirteen steaks in one sitting.

Leave a comment and share this post on some social media platform to win a copy of LARA’S GIFT. For every share or comment, your name will be entered into the pot. The winner will be drawn and announced August 30.

Congratulations to Teresa Burks – winner of the LARA’S GIFT book draw!

Link here to learn about Annemarie O’Brien, here for a teacher’s guide, and here for the book trailer.


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