Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the questions I get asked most often.

photograph of ellen miles author of the puppy place books

Here I am with some dachshund puppies I visited when I was writing about Ziggy. Aren’t they adorable?

Where do you get your ideas?

I find ideas everywhere: from something interesting I read in the newspaper, from a conversation with a friend, from a book I am reading, from a memory that comes to me. And, most of all, from my imagination.

One of the ways a story often starts for me is with a “what if” question. For example, “What if the Petersons had to foster the most spoiled puppy ever?” That “what if” question turned into the book Princess.

A lot of times if I don’t have any ideas, I go for a walk or a bike ride or a ski. As soon as I start moving outdoors, the ideas start bouncing into my brain. I carry a little notebook everywhere so I can write down ideas as soon as I think of them.

Can I write to you? What is your address? Will you be my pen pal?

Right now I am not receiving mail because of the pandemic, but I hope to be able to hear from my readers again, soon! Ask your parents to help you check my author Facebook page for more pictures and news from me.

I love to write and receive letters, and I wish I could be pen pals with ALL my readers – but I am pretty busy with my writing. Maybe your parents can help you find a good pen pal site online so you can find a fun person to write to.

Are the stories in the Puppy Place true? Are Charles and Lizzie real people?

The stories are made up, but sometimes they are based on true events. Some stories are based on things I read somewhere or something a friend – or sometimes a reader! – told me.

As for the characters, Charles and Lizzie are made up, but they are both a lot like me, in different ways. I can be bossy, like Lizzie. And I like to tell jokes and write letters, like Charles.

The puppy characters are made up, but some of them are based on real dogs (like Zipper, based on my own dog!). I do a lot of research to learn about what poodles are like, or how boxers act, or what kind of home might be best for a Brittany spaniel. And I’ve always got my eyes out for a good dog story.


This is me with Pelli, a friend’s Leonberger, when he was a puppy. He’s much, much bigger now! The book Boomer was partly based on this dog.


Can you guess which book I was writing when I visited this German Shepherd pup? If you guessed Champ, you’re right!

What inspired you to write the Puppy Place books?

I love dogs, and I knew I would never get tired of writing about them. Every dog has a special personality. That keeps the books interesting and fresh and makes them fun to write. I love to learn about the different breeds, especially when it means I get to do research by meeting puppies.

How long does it take you to write a Puppy Place book?

Goldie, the very first one, took almost a year! But now that I know the Peterson family and understand how the stories work, each book takes about three or four months.

When did you start writing?

I have been a full-time writer for thirty years, but Puppy Place is my most well-known series so far. I’ve also written about cats in the Kitty Corner series, and about a story-telling teacher in Taylor-Made Tales – but those books can be hard to find these days!

The very first thing I remember writing for others was a play about Tom Sawyer, for my fourth-grade class to put on.

I want to be a writer. What should I do?

Read, read, read and write, write, write! That’s truly the best way to learn how stories are made. There are also lots of great websites for kids who want to write. Ask your parents, a teacher, or a librarian for help finding one that’s right for you.

Do you like being an author?

It’s the best job ever! First of all, I love to read and write (that’s probably why I became an author!). Second, I love this job because I can set my own schedule. If it’s a beautiful day, I can go for a bike ride and write later. Third, I don’t have to dress up to go to work. I can even wear my pajamas all day, if I want! And fourth, and most important, I love being an author because I love to get kids excited about reading.


I met these Portuguese Water Dog puppies when I was researching the book Baxter. Such cuties!


Zipper loves winter as much as I do!

Will you write a Puppy Place book about my dog?

There are so many great pets out there! I love to hear about your dogs, and I would love to write about them all. But I have a lot of future books already planned out, so it may take a while before I get around to writing about your Australian Cattle Dog or Labradoodle. Since you know your own pet best, maybe you can write a story about him or her!

What is your favorite Puppy Place book?

My favorite Puppy Place book is Zipper, the one I wrote based on my very own dog! I also especially love Bear, Fluffy and Freckles, and Jack – in part because those books are all set in Vermont. I will always have a special place in my heart for Goldie, the very first Puppy Place puppy.

Do I need to read the Puppy Place books in any special order?

Not really. They can be read in any order. But if you want to read them in the order I wrote them, here’s the list: Goldie, Snowball, Shadow, Rascal, Buddy, Flash, Scout, Patches, Pugsley, Maggie and Max, Noodle, Princess, Cody, Honey, Bear, Lucky, Jack, Sweetie, Chewy and Chica, Baxter, Muttley, Ziggy, Bella, Moose, Bandit, Cocoa, Rocky, Lucy, Teddy, Mocha, Oscar, Molly, Liberty, Gizmo, Cooper, Zipper, Stella, Boomer, Daisy, Gus, Sugar, Gummi, and Lollipop (that’s one book about three puggles!), Nala, Bonita, Champ, Bubbles and Boo, Lola, Angel, Jake, Bitsy, Edward, Spirit, Louie, Cuddles, Bentley, Rusty, Roxy, Kodiak, Barney, Fluffy and Freckles (that’s one book about a puppy and – a lamb!), Miki, Biggie, Lily, Sparky, and Donut. Coming in the next school year: Zig and Zag (one book about sister puppies) and Bingo!


What’s more fun than one Great Dane puppy? Three Great Dane puppies! And one of them looks just like Moose.


Awww! Zipper really was the cutest puppy ever.

I really want to read Sweetie, but I can’t find a new copy anywhere! What should I do?

I know, some of my Puppy Place books are hard to find. Sorry about that! If you can’t find a new copy, I hope you can find the books you want to read at your school or local library. You could also ask your parents to help you find a used copy or an ebook version, online. Or maybe you can borrow one from a friend!

Who draws the covers for your books?

Aren’t they wonderful? They are created by an artist named Tim O’ Brien. I send him lots of ideas and pictures about how the puppy should look, and he comes up with the most adorable covers.

Are you still writing Puppy Place books?

Absolutely! I still have so many puppies to write about!

What kind of puppy are you writing about right now?

I just finished writing about two Brittany spaniels named Zig and Zag. Next up: a Chinese Crested named Bingo.

Do you have any pets? Do you still have Django?

I have a wonderful dog, a hound mix named Zipper. He is cute and smart and goofy and I love him very much. I’m sad to say that my black Lab Django died a while ago. He was very old and we had a lot of great times together. I have had many dogs in my life and I have loved them all very much. It can be very sad to lose a dog you have loved and lived with for many years. But I treasure my happy memories of all the dogs I’ve known.


My dear pal Django, enjoying some lake time. Still miss this boy!


This is Pippa, my friends’ dog. She’s a Labradoodle, like Gus. She’s all grown up now!

Have you ever fostered any dogs?

Yes! The best time was when I lived out in the country. One day two puppies, brother and sister, wandered into my yard. One was brown and one was black. They were probably a Lab/pit bull mix. When I tracked down their owner, she said that they needed homes. So I volunteered to foster them. They stayed with me for several weeks until I found them homes. They played all day and nearly wrecked my house but I loved having them around. And because their new forever families lived nearby, I got to see them grow up into wonderful dogs.

I love to match dogs or puppies with good owners. Once I matched up a stray Lab mix puppy with some friends of mine. They named her Bessie and they had seventeen great years together! Whenever Bessie saw me or even heard my voice she would come running to kiss me all over.

What made you want to be an author?

I wanted to be an author because I love to read and write!

I know your favorite animal is probably a dog – but what is your favorite wild animal?

I love otters! They are one of the only animals that plays (dolphins do, too!). One winter day when I was out cross-country skiing I saw some tracks two otters had made, sliding down a long, snowy hill just like you or I might go sledding.


Can you guess which book is based on this puppy? If you guessed Mocha, you’re right!

Want to meet all the Puppy Place puppies?

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