Friday, May 28, 2010

Lila Dare & Marco

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Lila Dare and I write mystery novels. The latest, out in May, is Tressed to Kill, the first in the Southern Beauty Shop series. My pal is Marco. He's a five-year-old Wire-haired Pointing Griffon. He'll be six on the 4th of July.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have to confess that my caffeine of choice is really tea. Does that disqualify me from the site? Since I work from home, I have tea with Marco every morning after walking the kids to school. Marco's very helpful about letting us know when it's time to leave for school since walks are his favorite activity in the whole world. After I brew my tea, he knows to head straight upstairs to my office looking out at Pikes Peak.

What's brewing?

My favorite tea is Yorkshire Gold which I got addicted to when I lived in Harrogate, England at the turn of the millennium.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

No goodies. Sitting on my fanny at the computer all day does not allow for a lot of brownies, scones, or muffins.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

My dog's favorite treat is having me home with him all day. Really.

How were you and your dog united?

When we lost our last dog at thirteen, a chocolate Labrador named Hawk, we waited a year and a half and did a fair amount of research before choosing Marco. We wanted a somewhat smaller dog that shed less than a Lab, and we wanted one who was smart and good with kids. We looked at Portuguese water dogs, Soft-coated wheaten terriers, and a couple of others before deciding Marco was meant to be our next family member. We got him from a breeder in Alabama. I flew out there to pick him up and he came back in a carrier that fit under the seat in front of me. The lady seated beside me was surprised and relieved to see the puppy when we de-planed; she'd been wondering why I was talking to my luggage throughout the flight!

Does your dog have any influence on your writing?

I like writing about animals and about the way they interact with humans. There's a lot of humor in my novels, so I borrow some of Marco's more amusing traits to use in my stories.

How did Marco get his name? Does he have any aliases?

My husband is very into science and scientists so we considered Tesla, Fermi and several other before settling on Marco (which is short for Marconi). He just struck us as a Marco.

Where is Marco's favorite place for an outing?

We live in Colorado and hike a lot. Marco loves any place with trees. Or grass. Or bushes. Wildlife smells are a bonus. Wildlife sightings (deer, foxes, bunnies) take the walk to "this is the happiest day of my life" levels.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Squirrels! Squirrels are the enemy. The yard must be kept squirrel-free at all times. It is Marco's self-appointed job to rid the world of squirrels (not that he's ever caught one).

Tennis ball, stick, squeaky-toy...?

My daughter has a stuffed bluebird that makes realistic bluebird sounds that Marco has decided is his. He doesn't chew it, but when he's feeling insecure (he thinks we're leaving the house without him), he gets the bluebird from wherever my daughter has put it (on a bookshelf, atop the piano, on her bed) and takes it to his favorite spot on the landing and just mouths it to make it chirp.

Who is Marco's best pet-pal?

His best pet pal was my brother's Collie-mix named Max who unfortunately got whacked by a car. Marco doesn't really have a pet pal now. My mother is considering getting a dog and Marco has approval authority over her choice.

What is Marco's best quality?

He's a very loving dog. If one of us sits on the floor, he'll come over and curl up in our lap, despite the fact that he's a 55-lb animal. Nothing makes him happier than to be with his "pack," whether we're making a run to the post office or going on a 10-mile hike.

What is Marco's proudest moment? His most embarrassing?

I really can't think of anything particularly proud or embarrassing, but the scariest moment was when we (Marco and I) were on a walk early on a Sunday morning and a coyote popped out of the brush immediately ahead of us. It surprised me so that when Marco lunged at him, I lost the leash. They both took off like antelope outrunning a cheetah. I lost sight of them almost immediately and was terrified that I'd come upon Marco's eviscerated corpse (since lone coyotes are notorious for luring domestic dogs into an ambush by the whole pack). However, the coyote must have been on his own that day because I came upon Marco about half a mile up the path, sniffing around, obviously having lost the coyote. Thanks goodness! Even now, several years later, he still looks around when we get to that spot on the path, hopeful of spotting his coyote buddy.

Author of the Southern Beauty Shop mysteries, Lila Dare was born in Georgia and has lived in Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia. Although she has never worked in a beauty shop, she frequents salons and likes to tell her stylist: “Surprise me.” She currently lives west of the Mississippi with her husband, two daughters and Marco, and misses Southern cooking and friendliness, but not the humidity.

Read an excerpt from
Tressed to Kill, and learn more about the book and author at Lila Dare's website.

--Marshal Zeringue