Who is in the photo at right?
Sasha is a five-year-old German shepherd. I am Gennifer Choldenko, the author of twelve books for kids. My best-known book is Al Capone Does My Shirts, which won the Newbery Honor and has sold more than one million copies.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I have coffee with Sasha whenever possible. Our apartment is within walking distance of a whole host of coffee houses. My favorite is: Taste of Rome where I drink cappuccino and Sasha curls up under the table, waiting patiently for other dogs to walk by.
Any treats for you or Sasha on this occasion?
Unfortunately, she has a sensitive stomach, so definitely no dog treats for Sasha. I am a caffeine queen. Any food taken with the caffeine, only dilutes the effect.
How were you and Sasha united?
Sophie, our last German shepherd, died suddenly after a fantastic holiday at the beach. My son, my daughter and I were absolutely distraught. My husband, not so much. He and I had agreed to wait to get another dog, but alas he left for Europe on business ... and my daughter, then eleven, went to work. She found Sasha and lobbied hard for her. I talked to my husband about this by phone. I discussed my concerns about buying a dog over the internet, my worries about taking my kids then eleven and fifteen with me to a strange person’s home to get the dog and how exactly we might pay for said dog. But none of this quite registered with him. It was when we were driving home with the adorable puppy Sasha curled up at my daughter’s feet, that it finally dawned on him ... we were dog owners again. Needless to say, he was not pleased.
How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?
My son wanted to name her: Dakota. My daughter was in favor of Stella. Sasha was a compromise. My son’s nicknames for her are: Dogliss and Sausage.
Does Sasha do more to help or hinder your writing?
Sasha mostly helps. However, at five o’clock every day she presses her chin on my keyboard so that all that gets written is DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD, until she’s had her walk.
What is Sasha’s favorite book?
Chasing Secrets due out August 4. Sasha is a huge fan as nothing is more exciting than a good chase. If there are small rodents involved, all the better.
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?
My dog Lucy, also a German shepherd, inspired me to create the dog Pistachio in my first published novel, Notes from a Liar and Her Dog. Pistachio was nothing like Lucy, but the love the protagonist, Ant, had for Pistachio was every bit as intense as my love for Lucy and now Sasha. Ant’s first rule of life? Dogs are better than people. Though I can’t say I believe that exactly, I do think that there’s nothing as calming as giving your dog a belly rub.
If Sasha could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?
California law should mandate that every homeowner or apartment dweller must leave a squeaky toy, a stick, or a ball on his or her driveway.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Sasha could speak, who should voice her?
Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge Simpson.
What advice would Sasha give if asked?
Dig a hole. And when you finish, dig another.
Visit Gennifer Choldenko's website.