I have never been without a dog. I love when I interview someone who starts our conversation with those words. Anne Serling is a dog lover of the highest order.
I first met Anne at SerlingFest in Binghamton, New York in 2018. SerlingFest is a yearly gathering organized by the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation. From presentations to memorabilia, the event offers something for every Rod Serling or Twilight Zone fan, of which I am both.
I briefly reminisced with Anne about her famous father’s indelible imprint and influence on my career choice (writing) and the beauty of her prose.
For those unfamiliar, Rod Serling was an Emmy award-winning television and film writer who created and hosted the series, The Twilight Zone. Ironically, we share the same Christmas Day birthday. Rod was taken way too soon in 1975 at 50 years of age.
On this eve of the 60th anniversary of The Twilight Zone, being celebrated at SerlingFest, Anne shares fond memories of dogs, her dad, and what’s she working on these days.
About Anne Serling
Originally from southern California, Anne now lives in upstate New York preferring a small town and the change of seasons.
Anne, a former early childhood teacher, is the author of AS I KNEW HIM: My Dad Rod Serling which won the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for best memoir/biography in 2015.
The adaptations she wrote of two of her father’s teleplays appear in the anthology The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories. She has had poetry published in The Cornell Daily Sun and Visions; articles in Salon.com, The Huffington Post, and literary journals (The Write Place at the Right Time and Foundling).
Anne has appeared on several radio shows which include George Noory– Coast to Coast and NPR’S Snap Judgment. Currently, she is at work on a novel: AFTERSHOCKS.
About Dogs In Her Life: Then and Now
Fidose of Reality (FOR): Your father is beloved and an American treasure. Your book takes us behind the green curtain and into your lives. Tell us about the role of dogs in your life growing up. Was your dad a dog lover?
Anne Serling (AS): My father also always had dogs. As a kid, he had Boston Terriers. He and my mother had a Cocker Spaniel when they got married, Robbie. Robbie #1 –they had to give to someone because he used to bury his bones in the sofa and whenever guests came over and sat down, he would go after them. Thus Robbie #2 entered the picture. They also had a Collie named Laurie and what I believe was a rescue dog- a beautiful wonderful Irish setter named Beau. He was the first dog I remember. After that, there were more Setters, a Beagle and some dogs from the SPCA.
FOR: Do you have a favorite memory involving dogs and your father you can share?
AS: Our setters Michael and Maggie (mother and son) loved to run off at the cottage. My dad called them, “The friendly travelers.” We’d get in the car and go looking for them and sing- usually rounds. My dad had a great voice. It’s such a strong memory I ended my book with it.
FOR: What dogs have shared your life as an adult?
AS: Jenny, Heidi, Huggie, Maggie, Brandy, Annie, Kate, Kelly, Tucker.
FOR: Do you prefer purebred dogs, mixed breeds, and/or does it matter?
AS: It doesn’t matter. I would adopt every shelter dog if I could.
FOR: In these turbulent political times, do you feel dogs play a role in helping people cope, deal, and find sanity?
AS: Oh, absolutely. Though I worry about mine now as we are always screaming at the television and he’s extremely sensitive. I think it has been scientifically proven that dogs (and other animals) relieve stress.
FOR: What have dogs taught you about life?
AS: These quotes say it all; sum it up perfectly:
All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog. – Charles M Schulz
If you want a friend, buy a dog. – Kevin O’Leary
Be the person your dog thinks you are. – C.J. Frick
FOR: What canine shares your life at present?
AS: We have a dog named Tucker. He is a Border collie/Lab mix. He was originally our daughter’s dog but she was moving and couldn’t keep him. In all honesty, she could have eventually taken him, but by then we were helplessly in love; completely smitten with this boy. He is brilliant and sheer perfection. Need I say more?
FOR: Prior to publishing As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling, what did you do in your career?
AS: I was a preschool teacher at the Cornell Early Childhood Program.
FOR: Why did you decide to write a book about your father?
AS: Sometime after my dad died, so consumed with sadness, I tried to write about it. Like my father, I find writing cathartic. That book was called; “IN HIS ABSENCE.” I couldn’t finish it. I didn’t realize I was a long way from navigating that whole minefield of grief. When I finally wrote my memoir AS I KNEW HIM- there were three reasons—again to work through grief; to learn more about my dad professionally and to dispel once and for all the offensive assertions that some had written, characterizing my dad as a dark and tortured person.
FOR: What made you want to begin writing professionally?
AS: I’ve always loved writing. I began with poetry—which I often showed my dad. If he liked the piece he would talk about it for weeks. If he didn’t like it as he would declare it, “interesting.” In truth, a lot of it was pretty bad.
FOR: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
AS: I get up very early and write. On good days I’ll still be revisiting the day’s writing at 10 pm. I also send what I’ve written to my cell phone as I pick up things I missed on my PC.
FOR: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
AS: I run every day, love to garden and Facetime with my grandkids who live entirely too far away.
Fun Facts About Anne
We love to end our interviews with off-the-beaten-path tidbits.
FOR: Do you have a favorite dog-themed book or movie?
AS: I loved the book, “Marley and Me” and the movie, “My Dog Skip”
FOR: Where do you like to write? Do you have a preferred space or location?
AS: My little study.
FOR: If your dog could talk, what do you think his first words would be?
AS: I love you, too.
FOR: What do you like to do for fun/in your free time?
AS: Run, read, garden.
FOR: Favorite television show?
AS: What does it mean when the first two shows that come to mind are Lawrence O’Donnell and Dexter?
FOR: Do you have kids/grandkids and are they dog lovers?
AS: I am married, have a grown daughter and son, stepchildren, two grandchildren, and they are dog lovers, too…and this: I have always had a dog.
Dog Writers Keynote Speaker
On Sunday, February 9, 2020, Anne will keynote the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) annual event and awards banquet near New York City. Anne will be speaking about the role of dogs in her life and on the topic of getting published. Larry Woodward, President of Dogwise Publishing will also keynote.
As the President of the DWAA, I encourage anyone with an interest in dogs to consider attending. Tickets are limited and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The annual event and awards banquet takes place on the eve of Westminster Kennel Club’s annual dog show. Members and non-members attend for an evening of networking, business card exchange, education, celebration, photo opportunities, and more.
Who should attend? Anyone who has an interest in creative endeavors that promote the interest of dogs. This includes, but is not limited to, writers, authors, journalists, publicists, bloggers, social media influencers, photographers, illustrators, and on-air personalities.
Whether you are a member of not, you are welcomed and encouraged to attend the event. Whether you are a finalist for awards or not, this event offers something for everyone, both members and non-members.
We’ll also be announcing the winners of our annual writing competition, awarding Maxwell Medallions as well as over $14,000 in special awards thanks to generous sponsors!
Don’t Stop Now
If you love the Twilight Zone, check out My Deceased Dog Connected With Me In The Twilight Zone
More about the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation.
Tickets for the DWAA event where Anne will be keynoting.
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