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Interview: Tim Vandehey and Annie Greer, Authors of The Chimp Who Loved Me

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Annie Greer is a woman of many talents and professions, including, but not limited to: a certified veterinary chiropractor, radio host, animal behaviorist, farmer’s wife, and AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator.  Ms. Greer resides in Apopka, Florida, where she and her husband, Kent, a veterinarian, run three animal clinics and a 40-acre farm.

A professional ghostwriter and book collaborator, Tim Vandehay has collaborated on more than 30 books in many areas, including the self-improvement, memoir, spiritual, health, business, and financial genres. Titles include Red Carpet Ready with Melissa Rivers (Harmony), Blindsided with Jim Cole (St. Martin’s Press), and Running on Faith with Jason Lester (HarperOne). Mr. Vandehay resides in Bainbridge Island, Washington with his wife and two daughters.

Both Mr. Vandehay and Ms. Greer are busy at work promoting their new book, The Chimp Who Loved Me, which is sure to bring delight, pleasure and plenty of laughs to its readers!

Please tell us a bit about your book, The Chimp Who Loved Me, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

The Chimp Who Loved Me is a collection of very funny real-life accounts of Annie’s strange life with animals. We hope that people laugh a lot, take the strong language in stride, and appreciate the wonder of all animals, from the dogs and cats we’re all so familiar with to the cougars and wolves and chimps that come into our lives from time to time.

Who/what inspires you the most within your book?

What inspires us most is the power that animals have to captivate even the most cynical of us humans. Some of the things they do really are extraordinary. It’s impossible to watch rabbits appear from nowhere in your driveway, or a chimpanzee completely take over a Florida restaurant, without believing that there’s some divine magic to this world.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

Well, it’s a bloody twisted book with a wicked sense of humor, so I guess our favorite line would have to be from the first story: “All I could think was, ‘Oh God! I’m going to be sexually assaulted by a chimp!’ I pictured the 911 call. I saw the operator laughing so uncontrollably that she forgot to send help. I tried to peel Sammy’s pinching, prying hands off my naked, wet body and realized that I had to get some clothes on.”

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

Meryl Streep should play Annie. Maybe Tom Skerritt could play Kent. As for Sammy the chimp, Robin Williams has the right amount of chest hair.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

The interviewing and storytelling. We laughed ourselves silly in gathering the stories for this book. That probably had a little to do with all the really good California zinfandel we drank while doing it.

Your least favorite aspects of writing?

Rewriting. Who likes it? Nobody. It’s like digging a hole, then being told to fill it in and dig the same hole again.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

Tim: Bill Bryson, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Baruch, Po Bronson, Paul Theroux. I’m a nonfiction guy, and I adore good travel writing.

What are you reading right now?

Tim: The Wave by Susan Casey, City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?

We had to reach a consensus on this one. The authors: Thomas Pynchon, Harlan Ellison, Bill Bryson, Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein. For the meal, Tim suggested tapas and plenty of good wine, since small plates and large glasses tend to breed lively conversation, and what’s the point of having five geniuses at table if they don’t talk up a storm? Annie suggested Marmite sandwiches, because she’s English and always trying to convert Americans to liking that salty black tar garbage.

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

Tim: The Right Stuff by Thomas Wolfe. It’s perhaps the best blend of fictionalized journalism, satire and social commentary since Gulliver’s Travels.

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

Never stop.

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