On the Town: Animal stories among those 'Book'd in Burbank'

When Liz Donatelli established Book’d in Burbank in 2013, did she ever think that three years later it would be a flourishing and popular part of the lives of many local bibliophiles?

“I did!” she states emphatically with a laugh. “When I do something, I’m committed to doing it right.”

Recently, as Donatelli’s bookish presentation of author readings wrapped up its third season, the packed-house gathering who convened at Theatre Banshee on Magnolia Boulevard once again enjoyed an evening that offered firsthand insight from writers on their books, characters, inspirations and craft.

As a part of the evening that featured six authors representing the memoir, romance, horror, mystery, women’s fiction and young adult genres, the highlight was an appearance of two local authors — Joey Camen and Jennifer Caloyeras — who have written about the bond between humans and their companion animals.

“These books tie in perfectly with this month’s celebration of Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month,” Donatelli told the assemblage, “and this evening we are pleased to have a special guest, Stacie Wood-Levin, who is a senior animal control officer with the city of Burbank.”

Wood-Levin, who assisted author Camen in the adoption of his dog Snoopy from the shelter and in the writing of his book, said his compelling tome is about how adopting a dog changed his life.

“His story is one that I have heard many times during my 15-year career,” she said. “They are the most satisfying stories to hear. To have people tell us that they adopted a dog that became the love of their life. Every time I hear a story like that it makes everything I do all worthwhile — that I had the opportunity to play a role in helping to change, not just a homeless animal’s life for the better, but also a person’s life.”

Explaining that the Burbank shelter’s goal is to do a great job for the animals and community they serve, Wood-Levin also told the gathering that their work entails educating people on spaying and neutering their pets, being a responsible pet owner and overcoming prejudices to certain breeds.

She also invited people to participate in the kitten- and puppy-fostering program and explained that the shelter’s volunteers are currently engaged in a fundraising program to establish a mobile adoption unit.

Along with Camen’s tail-wagging tale of his 13-year relationship with his Sheltie-mix that he details in “My Life With Snoopy,” the audience also heard Caloyeras’ take on the human-and-animal connection as she read from her novel, “Strays.”

Rounding out the evening were authors Andrea Weir, who read from her novel “A Foolish Consistency”; S.K. Rizzolo, who shared passages from her mystery “Die I Will Not”; Veronica Scott, who shared some steamy love from her romance “Star Cruise: Marooned”; and Maria Alexander, who passed on some of the horror of her book “Mr. Wicker.”

Book’d In Burbank events, which include mix-and-mingle dessert receptions in which attendees get the unique chance to meet and question the evening’s featured writers on numerous topics, have become anticipated quarterly presentations for the local literary community.

Propelled by the notion that the bookish enjoy social interaction just as much as they like curling up with a good read, Donatelli encourages local book lovers to visit bookdevent.com for more information on the next Book’d in Burbank event that will take place at Theatre Banshee in January.

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DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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