Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Joanna Bourne & Brittany

Who is in the photo at right?

Here we are, me and Brittany. She's a ... can I call her All American Dog? We think she's collie and husky. But ... maybe more than that. Well, who knows?

And with Britt is me, Joanna Bourne. I write Historical fiction, Historical Romance, to be exact.

I guess most authors have some favorite form of stimulation. I drink coffee in the morning and make up a pot of tea for the late afternoon.

When I'm working at home, Brittany is right there keeping me company while I type away. Here, you see us having the day's first cuppa. That's Brittany just checking it out for me. Note the 'walking ware' -- those are classic cups.

Tell me about your brew.

My coffee comes to me from Northampton, Massachusetts, from CooksShopHere. I'm drinking his 'Northampton Blend', this morning, a mid-to-mild, low-acid arabica roast with a smooth afterglow to it. I make it up a cup or two at a time so it's fresh and I drink it with fresh skim milk, heated. I don't do anything arcane with my brew. I don't need any high technology. A regular old Mr. Coffee machine works fine for me or a little French press. I don't even grind my own beans. Heat the coffee, pour it through the ground bean, and drink.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I like a little something in the morning. I guess the word I'm looking for is 'pastry'. A muffin. A roll. A biscuit. This morning it's pumpkin muffins with raisins.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Brittany gets a little taste of a muffin, too. I give her a bite of one of the muffins I make up without raisins, since I imagine raisins are not good for the canines.

I don't know what she makes of all this. I have a feeling she may just eat the muffin to please me.

How did you and your dog come together?

Brittany is what you might call a 'previously-owned pet'. There are so many animals in need that I absolutely always get my pets at the humane shelter. Britt was found wandering the park, either abandoned or lost. I had been to the shelter every week for a month or so, looking for the right dog. That day I walked through ... and she had just been brought in. I knew instantly that we were meant for each other.

She came to me with a beautiful, sweet, undaunted spirit.

Does your dog have any influence on your writing?

I try to have some animal in every book. It's only been a dog, once. This was in Spymaster's Lady and the dog is named 'Tiny'.

What can I say about Tiny? He's not ... tiny. This is what my character Annique says --
She looked at Grey through her eyelashes. "I am glad you were not devoured by that animal which has draped itself across the doorway. What is it, that thing?"

"We think it's part wolfhound. Doyle found it down by the docks, likely off some ship or other."

"I would say it is rather wolf and possibly also part elephant. It does not like me."
In the last book, Forbidden Rose, it's donkeys.

How did your dog get her name? Does she have any aliases?

The folks at the shelter gave her the name Brittany, so we stuck with that. We call her Britt, sometimes. Or Brittarinko. But mostly we call her, "Ye! Come, Britt. Come. Yes. You! Now! I mean it."

Who is Brittany's best pet-pal?

She and the cat are real tight. That's my cat Singe. We brought Singe home as a kitten -- another pound special -- and I think she decided Brittany was her Mama. Singe goes racing around like a drop of water on a griddle and suddenly leaps out from behind a sofa, ambushing Brittany.

Britt kinda dances out of the way so she won't get stepped on by this maniac attacking her.

Brittany must be fifty times the size of little Singe, but she's so careful of her.

What is your dog's most endearing quality?

When I've been away for a while and come back, there she is, relieved and happy to see me. And it's more than that. You can see her saying, "Everything's all right now. Good. The Natural Order has been re-established. Okay."

How important does it make you feel when you re-establish the Natural Order of Things, just walking into the house.

If your dog could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Walks. We have this little ongoing disagreement over how much of the day should be devoted to walking around through the fields.

I think Brittany would have me out from morning till night if she could convince me.

Is Brittany jealous of your work?

Oh, my yes. I don't think she quite understands that me typing on the typewriter is anything important. She'll come creeping along the carpet on her belly, her eyes begging, inching up to me. Then she'll sit there. Waiting. Hoping.

Eventually I'll decide it's time for a break and a little tromp around the woods.

It probably does us both good.

If you took a look at the front of Forbidden Rose, you'd see a whole list of dedications and acknowledgements in the front. There should be something in there that says -- "To my dog, Brittany, without whom I would have finished the manuscript a week earlier."

One funny thing -- my hero in Forbidden Rose is a British spy, William Doyle. When he's travelling to France during the French Revolution, he takes a French name. He calls himself, Guillaume LeBreton. What that means in French is 'William from Brittany'. I didn't even realize that till I was sitting down here writing.

Joanna Bourne lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with her family, a faux Himalayan cat, a fish named Bait, and Brittany.

Joanna Bourne's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue