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Artist-in-Residence Bobbie Pyron

Posted on Nov 01, 2015 in Escape to Create , Bobbie Pyron , November-December 2015

Bobbie Pyron

Within the pages of Bobbie Pyron’s novels for teens, readers of all ages can find themselves in stories to be savored, characters to be loved and graceful endings to be cherished. Her YA (young adult) novels are based on personal life experiences in recurring themes of love of family and a strong connection with animals, especially the canine variety, to create memorable tales of love, loss and the power of friendship.

The long path to Pyron’s awarded career began in early childhood. As a shy, quiet child prone to worry, Pyron’s best friends in the small fishing village of Destin were animals and books. Following the devastating loss of her father in a car accident at age 7, Pyron was seldom seen without the family beagle, Puck, at her side. Her experience of loss and the healing provided through Puck’s constant companionship led her to read and re-read classic dog adventure tales like “Lassie, Come Home” and “The Incredible Journey.” Pyron’s first inspired effort at writing occurred as a 9-year-old when she took pen to paper determined to become a published author. When writer’s cramp gripped her on page 32, the great-great-great-great niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe shelved her literary aspirations for almost 40 years.

After attaining degrees in anthropology and psychology and earning credentials as a librarian, Pyron settled in the mountains of Utah where she worked as a children’s librarian for over 25 years, a career that would re-awaken her destiny as a writer through her observations of the interest and needs of young teens. Her first novel, “The Ring” (2009) introduced Pyron as an authentic new voice, lyrical in tone and appealing to the imaginations and lives of young readers. The story of a young girl-teen on the edge of trouble struggling to find purpose and focus through the non-traditional sport of boxing, “The Ring” was a Finalist for the Utah Book Award.

Pyron’s childhood obsession with the great classical dog books and her adult advocacy for the Sheltie breed inspired her next book, “A Dog’s Way Home.” An inspiring portrayal of devotion and survival against all odds, the middle-grade novel won over 500 entries for the Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award. The book was honored for “conveying the power of unconditional love, doing one’s best in the face of challenge and loss while teaching respect and responsibility for living creatures.” Film rights have been purchased and the book is now published in several languages.

Next came “The Dogs of Winter,” a Kirkus Best Book of 2012 and a Junior Library Guild Selection. Expanding her writer’s voice into the realm of historical fiction, Pyron spent over five years researching the heart- wrenching story of Ivan Mishukov, a homeless 4-year-old Muscovite who survived bitter hardship foraging for food and shelter while under the protection of a pack of feral dogs. The book is celebrated internationally for inspiring kindness to fellow human beings and animals as it teaches perseverance, goodness and determination.

Prior to her Escape To Create (E2C) residency, Pyron was invited to participate in a unique collaborative project pairing young cancer patients with awarded YA authors and an awarded Utah photographer to create modern-day fairy tales based on their lives and dreams. The children of True Heroes are portrayed as their imagined characters in digitally enhanced portraits that accompany their story. Pyron’s partner imagined herself as a fearless pirate and is celebrated as “Sada Of The High Seas.”

During her E2C residency, “Lucky Strike” enjoyed its Southeastern premier at Sundog Books in Seaside. A light-hearted tale of an orphaned boy, his grandfather and the lightening strike that turns their world upside down, the book is a love letter to the magical place of the author’s childhood years. Set in a small fishing village on the Gulf, the middle-grade story explores the relationships between people and animals, the importance of friendship and family and believing in oneself.

For Bobbie Pyron, her writer’s residency in Seaside was a “coming home” to the memories of the Gulf of her own childhood. And like the warm golden sunset of a Seaside afternoon, you won’t want the big-hearted tales of this gifted writer to ever end.