Stan Yocum....................... ...
Get lost in suspense novelist Stan Yocum’s world as he talks with Marcie and Whistle about his latest suspense novel, Unrelenting Nightmare. Stan has two life passions--writing suspense novels and raising puppies that grow up to be Canine Companions for Independence service dogs! Listen in as he talks candidly about his latest book and his puppy in training!
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I am one of those people who, for some reason, switched from the dominant side of their brain (right vs. left) to the other side. When I was young, I enjoyed drawing (right brain influence) and took art classes in high school and college. During my second year in college, I stopped drawing and changed my major to theater arts and ventured onto the stage. I loved acting, and after graduating I tried to make a living in the entertainment industry. After four years, though, and not making nearly enough to live on, I decided to go back to school. And here is where I made my first shift in dominant side influence.
I enrolled at USC in accounting (can’t get much farther left than that), graduated and was hired by one of the nation’s largest accounting firms. After seven years, I left and with a partner started a consulting firm. We were successful and had a number of exclusive companies as clients. It was during this time that I started accumulating a wealth of information and knowledge about the business world, which I would later use in my novels.
In 1992, I was sitting in a seminar when I suddenly decided that I had spent too much time using the left side of my brain. I literally got up, walked out of the seminar, went straight home and began writing a children’s story. I submitted the story to a number of literary agents and received some positive feedback about my writing style. I continued to consult, however, but my hunger and desire to write had taken on new proportions. During the next eight years I worked with a variety of companies. This afforded me more opportunities to learn and gather information about the inner workings of corporations and top executives. However, what really sparked my desire to once again venture into the writing arena was what I learned about the darker side of the business world!
I was eating dinner alone one evening in 2001, when a I realized that if I didn’t start writing right then, I would undoubtedly regret not having done so later in my life. It was at that moment that I made the full swing back to the right side of my brain. The next day, I started writing my first novel The Price of Admission, and have loved every minute since then sitting in front of my computer and creating new stories.
If you decide to read one of my novels, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Other than writing novels, I enjoy raising and training assistance dogs for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). The organization breeds incredible dogs for disabled people, most of who are restricted to wheelchairs.
For the past five years, Melayne (my wife) and I have volunteered to raise and train three CCI puppies, each one an absolute joy — extremely smart, unbelievably beautiful dogs, with wonderful temperaments and personalities, all brought together because of the incredible breeding program CCI has developed. All three dogs were Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, which helps bring the energy level of a Labrador down to a manageable level. We pick the puppies up when they are eight-weeks old, and train them over an eighteen-month period in social skills, plus teach them approximately thirty-five commands. We take them everywhere with us: restaurants, hotels, theaters, grocery and department stores, airplanes, trains, boat, busses; anywhere a potential recipient of the service dog (known as a graduate) might require the dog to go. When we return the puppy to CCI they are about two-years-old, and they go into professional training for the next six-months. Less than half the dogs actually make it through professional training. Those that do are assigned to a graduate that they will assist for approximately the next ten years.
Training these dogs is a wonderful experience, and one I never envisioned enjoying as much as I do. The question most volunteer trainers are asked is “How can you give the dog up?” It’s definitely difficult, and always tears at your heart. You cry the month before you turn the dog in, and for the month after. But when you see what these service dogs do for their graduates, it definitely makes it all worthwhile.
One additional comment. Always ask if you may approach and pet a service dog. Please don’t just reach out to great the dog. It can often be difficult for the person with the service dog to control the dog’s reaction if not properly warned. Thank you.