Here is a photograph of me with Mark de Castrique. He is one of the humans I’m charged with protecting. My name is Gracie de Castrique.
Mark and his wife Linda tell people I’m a miniature Schnauzer, but I know I’m a human with an overabundance of hair.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Every morning after I’m let out of my little house, Mark makes a pot of green tea while I eat breakfast. Then we both go to work. Mark moves my “place,” a comfy plaid cushion, next to his writing desk. There I stay ready to assist, whether that means announcing the FedEx or UPS man is at the door or a diabolical squirrel is stealing acorns from our trees.
When Mark is writing, we sometimes move to a different room. He says it helps him with writer’s block, which sounds like some sort of digestive problem. I got something similar from eating socks. Mark leaves his computer, grabs a fountain pen and journal, and starts writing by hand. I would be glad to help because it looks easier than pressing those little keys, but I don’t have opposing thumbs.
The pot of green tea usually lasts all morning. Mark also does video work and sometimes he has to go to a location. I stay and help Linda, although she doesn’t need as much help as Mark.
Any treats for you or Mark?
In the afternoons if it’s not raining, we go for a walk around the neighborhood. Then Mark makes a second pot of green tea and I have a cookie.
That's a lot of tea....
Mark says the tea wakes him up. I don’t know much about writing, but I think that’s a bad sign if his own words make him sleepy. I certainly wouldn’t want him reading his words while driving or operating heavy machinery.
What is your contribution to Mark's writing?
Sometimes, if I sense his writing isn’t going well, I scratch his leg until he plays with me.
Squeaky toy, tennis ball, stick...?
I have lots of stuffed toys – ball, rope, raccoon, duck – and we play till one of us is too tired to continue. Actually, that’s usually me. Maybe I should try some of that tea.
Have you shown up in any of Mark's books?
Mark and I appear in one of his books, although we didn’t use our real names. He says we would have overshadowed the main characters. The story is called The Fitzgerald Ruse and takes place in Asheville, a place I love to visit. Here’s our part:
I didn’t want to go into the building with my shoulder holster visible so I tucked the Kimber in my belt, folded the holster rig, and slid it under the seat. I locked the doors and looked around. The only life I saw was a gray-haired man being pulled by a Schnauzer of matching color to what the residents called the poop zone.I don’t think Mark should have written about my bathroom habits, but that’s what happens when you don’t have an agent.
Please buy the book anyway. We’re getting low on green tea and cookies.
Learn more about Mark de Castrique's new novel, The Sandburg Connection, at his website.
The Page 69 Test: The Sandburg Connection.
Writers Read: Mark de Castrique.