Who is in the photo at right?
That’s Merlin, Sheepdog, 8 years old, and me--Brian Yansky, a writer of novels (mostly Young Adult) and a professor of writing at Austin Community College.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I write at home for a few hours most mornings, and Merlin is nearby to lend his support. I usually have two cups of coffee when I work.
Just good old-fashioned Columbian or Costa Rican, medium roast. This is my working-day coffee. If I’m out and about, I’m partial to cappuccino.
Any treats for you or Merlin on this occasion?
One of us often has a dog biscuit or two and one of us sometimes has something sweet—cinnamon rolls would be the sweet of choice.
How were you and Merlin united?
Sheepdog Rescue. Merlin had had four homes in a little over a year. We were the fifth. In one of his homes, he was exiled because he kept carrying their small dog around in his mouth. No doubt he thought this was funny. He has a strange sense of humor.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
He had three or four names with his other owners. I think one was Buddy and another was Sam. Clearly these people did not understand the magic of Merlin. We did.
Does Merlin do more to help or hinder your writing?
He helps. Occasionally I think out loud and he always listens attentively. But the main way he helps is his love of walks. I do a lot of writing when I walk. I think about plots and characters and problems in the manuscript. I work them out. Merlin is always willing to encourage me to take a walk. A selfless act that I appreciate.
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your published work?
I’ve had four dogs. None have yet managed to inspire dogs in my work. I fully intend to write a novel in the future that has a dog or dogs in it though. No doubt all my dogs will have some hand in inspiring the identity of those dogs.
Who is Merlin's best pet-pal?
Chaos, our cat, who he adores. She, being a cat, tolerates his adoration. Mostly.
What is Merlin's best quality?
His sense of humor. He makes me laugh.
If Merlin could change one thing about Texans, what would it be?
Austinites are Texans but they’re Austinites first. Capital of Weird.
I think Merlin wouldn’t change anything about Austin-Texans.
If Merlin could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Why do motorcycles bother you so much?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Merlin could speak, who should voice him?
What advice would Merlin give if asked?
Live in the moment.
Visit Brian Yansky's website.
Writers Read: Brian Yansky.
The Page 69 Test: Utopia, Iowa.