Augusten Burroughs was born Christopher Richter Robison in Pittsburgh, PA on October 23, 1965 and raised in Western Massachusetts. Augusten's parents struggled with alcoholism and mental illness and they separated when he was twelve. Augusten stopped attending school and his parents' longtime psychiatrist became his legal guardian. At seventeen, he moved to the Boston area and graduated from Control Data Institute with a diploma in Computer Programming and System's Analysis and Design but never worked in the technology industry. Instead he moved to San Francisco and at 19 became the youngest copywriter in the city. His work attracted national acclaim and in 1989 he was invited by Ogilvy & Mather, New York, to work on their flagship American Express account. Augusten found great success in the Manhattan advertising community, eventually working for many of the top agencies where he created global ad campaigns for worldwide brands. Almost eighteen years after accepting his first advertising job, Augusten left the industry to pursue a career as an author. Two years later, his 2002 memoir, Running with Scissors, became a publishing phenomenon, spending over three consecutive years on the NYT bestseller list. It was made into a movie starring Annette Bening and Alec Baldwin. All of Augusten's subsequent books — Dry, Magical Thinking, Possible Side Effects, A Wolf at the Table, You Better Not Cry & This is How — were instant NYT bestsellers. In 2013, Augusten married his literary agent and best friend, Christopher Schelling, received a Lambda Literary Award, and was honored with a Doctorate of Letters from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Augusten is also a self-taught gemologist with a special interest in jade. He collects and sells vintage and estate jewelry, photographs people, and recently directed his first music video. Augusten and his husband Christopher live in a 200 year old house in rural Connecticut with their three dogs.
Augusten Burroughs: My French bulldogs--I have two of them. They are 6 and 7 years old. They are the Cow and Bentley and they’re great. They’re like my kids. I love them to death. Bentley unfortunately became paralyzed.
It was terrible and he had a grueling recovery and two surgeries, a relapse, but now he’s doing great and he’s able to run around like crazy like he always did although now he looks drunk so it looks as if I give my bulldog beer in the morning ‘cause he kind of wobbles, but they’re great. They’re wonderful, amazing dogs, the most affectionate breed I’ve ever known.
Question: Why French bulldogs?
Augusten Burroughs: I know a lot about dogs and the characteristics of the French bulldog seemed that they would suit my personality and my lifestyle. Of course, my two French bulldogs, these specific French bulldogs, are breed atypical so they’re crazy; they’re just absolutely-- They’re like Jack Russell terriers. They’re incredibly high energy and crazy and always demanding attention. They’re absolutely hilarious.
They’re everything to me. I just love them. I wish I had six. I’m trying to talk my partner, Dennis, in to letting me get one more and then maybe one more after that but they sleep in bed with me. I work in bed as I mentioned before. I work in bed on- with my laptop computer with both of the dogs right there glued to my legs.
One is on top of my legs and one is next and if I move positions then they move with me at all times. I am in physical contact with my two French bulldogs literally 24 hours a day. They sleep under the covers in the bed.
Recorded on: April 30, 2008.