Interview with 'The Chimp and Me' Annie Greer & Tim Vandehey


Annie Greer is a certified veterinary chiropractioner, radio host, animal behaviorist, farmer's wife and AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator who, with her veterinarian husband, Kent, runs three animal clinics and a 40-acre farm in Apopka, Florida.

Tim Vandehey is a journalist, ghostwriter and book collaborator who has written more than 35 books since 2004 in the sports, self-help, memoir, spiritual, financial, business, and healthcare genres. His recent published co-authored works include Blindsided (with Jim Cole, St. Martin's Press, 2010), Running on Faith (with Jason Lester, HarperOne, 2010), Produced by Faith (with DeVon Franklin, Simon & Schuster, 2011), and I'm Here to Win! (with Chris McCormack, Center Street, 2011). Tim lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, with his wife and two daughters.

The Chimp Who Loved Me is Tim and Annie's latest hilarious endeavor.

You can visit their website at www.thechimpwholovedme.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Annie and Tim. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Chimp Who Loved Me?

Tim: Well, I’m a journalist, ghostwriter and co-author, so I’ve been writing professionally since 1987.

Annie: I’ve been writing since…what time is it? Tim’s the writer; I’m just the silly person who gets into all these half-mad situations with animals.

Tim: The book came about when we met in 2006 at a writers’ conference in Orlando, Florida. Annie told me about her experience being sexually assaulted by a chimpanzee in the shower, and after I picked myself up off the floor, I said, “I’m writing your book.” We’ve been friends ever since.

Annie: Actually, I apprehended Tim trying to shoplift a book that it turned out he’d ghostwritten. He’s very sneaky that way.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

We wanted something that conveyed the humor of the book and also jumped off the page. It’s a takeoff on the James Bond movie, “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and refers to the title story where Annie deals with the amorous chimp in the shower.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Because it’s damned funny. Also, we wanted to get past the “Awww!” aspect of many animal books and get to the real world of living and working with animals: some die, there’s a lot of pee and poop and sex, and they have the ability to give us some of the most astonishing moments of wonder and grace we will ever experience. Plus, people need to know that pet owners, not the pets, are really the crazy ones.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

We started our own publishing company, so we’ve done everything. We’ve started slowly: building a strong Facebook presence, building out a great website, and pursuing reviews and PR. We’re going after some bulk sales of the book to companies in the veterinary industry. Plus, 20% of the book’s proceeds will go to animal charities, and we hope that will generate some nice press coverage. We will also reach out to book clubs at some point.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

There really aren’t many books on the market like this one. That’s why we couldn’t get a publishing deal; editors want Marley and Me, not David Sedaris meets James Herriot. Most books on animals are overly sweet heart-tuggers, and that’s not us. What makes this book special is that it gives the reader an honest look at the crazy side of working with and raising animals—in a veterinary clinic and on a farm—while still communicating the wonder of them.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Annie: I’m on page 144, talking to a pet psychic named Laura Stinchfield on my radio show. Did I mention that I have a radio show called All Paws Pet Talk? She’s telling me that Maria, the pig I’ve just brought home, is depressed because she was held in a place where she was constantly afraid of being trampled, and that she would probably try to escape our farm at night. The thing it, Laura was 100% right. It was quite amazing.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Tim: Absolutely. We’re going to start compiling stories for a sequel in late 2011. The working title is Funny Farm.

Q: Thank you for your interview,Annie and Tim. Do you have any final words?

Support your local Humane Society or ASPCA chapter. They do amazing work. Thank you.

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