Friday, October 30, 2009

Neil Plakcy & Samwise

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Neil Plakcy, and I write a mystery series set in Honolulu which so far includes four books: Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, and Mahu Vice, which just came out in August 2009. With me is Samwise, my sweetheart of a nine-year-old male Golden Retriever.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I usually do my writing at Starbucks, but this morning the weather was so miserable (rain, thunder and lightning) that I decided to stay home and keep the dog company. He’s very phobic about thunderstorms, so he has crawled under the desk and on top of my feet. I’m not as good at making coffee as the baristas are, but I try my best.

What's brewing?

My favorite drink is a raspberry mocha with whip and a mocha drizzle. At home I make it by pouring espresso over a heaping helping of raspberry-flavored hot chocolate, along with a dollop of raspberry syrup for extra oomph. Foamed milk, whipped cream from a squirt bottle, and a tracing of chocolate syrup on top.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Today I’m nibbling on homemade apple bread. Sam would probably like some, too, but I have a strict no-people-food policy. Unfortunately his other daddy, my partner, doesn’t go along with that. It’s easier to train the dog than the human, so Sam knows not to bother begging from me.

Any treat for the dog on this occasion?

Sam comes running any time you rattle the treat box—sometimes he’ll come down the stairs so fast he splays all four paws out when he hits the tile floor. His current favorites are tiny t-bones from Walmart, and heart-shaped cookies from Newman’s Own.

How did Sam come to be united with you?

When I met my partner, he had a Yorkshire Terrier and a Collie. A few months after we all moved in together, the Collie passed away, and we wanted another big dog. We went to a kennel run by a vet where we looked at a bunch of different breeds. We kept coming back to Sam, though. I had friends with a Golden and knew they were sweet and smart, and Sam won us over with his happy, playful personality.

How did Samwise get his name?

One of my favorite books is (obviously) JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. My partner wanted to call the puppy Sam, and I agreed, provided we could register him with the AKC as Samwise. I already knew he was going to become my faithful companion, just as the hobbit Samwise is to Frodo in the books. (Plus he has furry feet, just like a hobbit.)

Where do you usually take Samwise out for fresh air?

We have a morning and an evening circuit within our community. We walk around a big lake ringed with palm trees in the morning, which is so beautiful and peaceful. On clear days it reminds me of a Monet painting, the landscape reflected in the water. Sam likes to play with the ducks—at least he thinks he’s playing when he romps after them. In the evening we walk around the residential streets so Sam can meet up with some of his doggy friends. He’s very sociable.

Does Samwise have any best friends?

Of course, once I learned that the Collie down the street was named Frodo, I had to arrange a meeting for him and Sam. They’re best pals now, and we dog-sit Frodo when his family goes away for a couple of weeks in the summer. They return the favor, but I don’t think Sam likes going visiting as much as he likes having Frodo as a house guest.

Has Samwise found his way into your mystery novels?

He has such a big place in my heart there’s no way he couldn’t. My hero is an openly gay homicide detective in Honolulu, and in the fifth book, the one I’m revising right now, he moves in with his partner, an investigator for the Honolulu Fire Department. About halfway through the book, Mike works a fire in which a heroic Golden Retriever saves his family. Sadly, the only new home the family can find is one that does not allow them to keep their dog, and Mike and Kimo adopt him. Roby is just as smart, sweet and happy as Sam. It’s lots of fun building Golden moments into this new book!

Neil Plakcy is the author of Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, and Mahu Vice, mystery novels which take place in Hawaii.

He is co-editor of Paws & Reflect: A Special Bond Between Man and Dog (Alyson Books, 2006) and editor of Hard Hats (Cleis, June 2008).

Placky is a journalist and book reviewer as well as an assistant professor of English at Broward College's south campus in Pembroke Pines. He is a member of Sisters in Crime, vice president of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and a frequent contributor to gay anthologies.

Neil Placky's website.

--Marshal Zeringue