Friday, October 29, 2010

Eve Marie Mont & Maggie

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Eve Marie Mont, English teacher and author of Free to a Good Home, my debut novel inspired by my shelter pup, Maggie, a Jack Russell-Boxer mix now thirteen years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I’m a high school teacher, I get up most days at 5:15. When I leave the house, my husband and pup are usually still in bed (I’m so jealous!), so the weekends are precious to me. I like to make a big pot of coffee that fills the house with heavenly aroma, curl up next to my husband and Maggie, and do a crossword puzzle or watch some recorded episodes of The Daily Show since I can’t stay up that late during the week.

What's brewing?

Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend with lots of cream and sugar!

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

My favorite weekend breakfast is an Everything Bagel with cream cheese, sliced tomato, and scallion.

Any treat for Maggie on this occasion?

She knows if she pretends not to beg, she’ll always get the last bite.

How were you and Maggie united?

When I taught in southern Maryland, a teacher friend of mine ran a small humane shelter out of her home, so my husband and I set out one evening to find ourselves a new companion. We thought we wanted an older dog, one that was housetrained and a little more placid. But when we arrived at the house, I spotted a puppy sitting in a crate by the foyer stairs. We had told ourselves we didn’t want a puppy. Puppies were too much work, too much hassle. But as we played with the other adult dogs, that puppy in the crate kept staring at us, almost begging us to take her home.

“Miracle,” as she was known at the time, had been found on the edge of a farmer’s field covered in ticks. She’d been to the vet and had had all her shots, but she’d already been “adopted” three times and had been returned for various reasons. One family said their son was allergic to her. Another didn’t realize how much work a puppy would be. The last owner said that Maggie had hoarded things in her crate: old socks, stuffed animals, empty plastic water bottles. I didn’t see why this was a deal breaker, as I’d probably hoard things too if somebody had once left me for dead on the edge of a farmer’s field.

She was small and tan with a white belly and white paws that looked like little boots. She also had a white lightning-shaped patch on the back of her neck like Harry Potter. Her eyes looked like they’d been painted with eyeliner, and her face was sweetly expressive. In about five minutes, my husband and I were smitten. We signed the forms, paid the fee, and took her home with us that day.

How did Maggie get her name? Any aliases?

Most of the dogs in the shelter had been kept in a heated garage overnight, but Maggie, being as young as she was, was kept in the house with the cats. When she first came out of her crate, she moved like a cat, slow and dainty, occasionally licking her paws in a feline way. We named her Maggie after Maggie the Cat from Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. From time to time, we call her “Cutie,” “Muffin,” “Sausage,” “Honey,” “Kid,” and my husband’s favorite: “Shmoop.”

Does Maggie have any influence on your writing?

Maggie absolutely influenced the writing of Free to a Good Home. The main character, Noelle, is a veterinary technician who seeks consolation in the unconditional love of her dog, Zeke, when she finds herself childless and divorced at the age of 33. Maggie was the inspiration for Zeke, and she also kept me company through most of the writing process, including when I got all those initial rejections!

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Maggie is a total squirrel hunter. We have tons of squirrels in our yard, and when Maggie chases them, she forgets she’s thirteen and has achy joints.

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

Give Maggie a stick to chew on, and she’s happy for an hour.

Where is Maggie's favorite place for an outing?

Maggie’s favorite place is in our own backyard, lying by the creek.

Who is Maggie's best pet-pal?

Unfortunately, Maggie doesn’t get along with most other dogs, so my husband and I are her best pals. Maggie totally thinks I’m part of her pack, and my husband is the alpha dog.

What is Maggie's best quality?

It’s a tie between her spunk and her sweetness.

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

If Maggie could change one thing about me, I’d be a full-time writer so I could work from home and spend all day with her. (Incidentally, if I could change one thing about me, it would be the same.)

What is Maggie's proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

Maggie’s most embarrassing moment is when she got in a fight with another dog over a water bowl. Not her water bowl; just a water bowl. Her proudest moments are probably when she chases the squirrels from our bird feeder, then looks triumphantly at us like she’s done a great public service.

an excerpt from Free to a Good Home, and visit Eve Mont's website and blog.

Writers Read: Eve Marie Mont.

--Marshal Zeringue