Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Alison Goodman & Xander

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Alison Goodman, author of novels including "Eon: Dragoneye Reborn." The slightly fluffier one is Xander Matthias Goodman aka the Furry Lord Of Darkness.

I am a pure-bred Australian (as far as that goes), and Xander is a cross between a Jack Russell Terrier and a lower level demon. We are both 40 something (although, alas, my age really is in human years).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

As Xander is a menace to polite society, this occasion was specifically for the Coffee with a Canine photo shoot. As you can see from photo 1 [above right], it all started well. It then rapidly deteriorated into photo 2 [below left].

What's brewing?


Oh, you mean the drinks…

Mine is a skim milk latte. Ron, my husband and the photographer, goes for a long Macchiato (that’s Melbourne speak for a normal Macchiato with extra hot water). Both made with Monte coffee, a medium roast with a delicious chocolatey aftertaste, from the very tolerant Laurent French Patisserie in Brighton, Melbourne, Australia.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Plain brioche for me (and it seems, Xander). Pain au Chocolat for Ron.

Any treat for Xander on this occasion?

I did take along some of his beloved Schmacko’s (a bit like dried jerky), but he obviously felt like brioche instead.

How did Xander come to be united with you?

As a guess, I’d say I did something heinous in a previous life and Xander is my punishment. Either that, or seven years ago I turned up at an animal shelter in answer to a “this dog needs a home” advertorial in the paper and left with a small and suspiciously quiet Jack Russell. A few hours later the drugs wore off and his true personality emerged. The Universe is still laughing its arse off.

How did Xander get his name?

He is named after the character in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." His middle name is my father’s middle name (although I’m not sure I’ve ever told my Dad about that honour). However, he is also called Xanderpup, The Furry Lord of Darkness, Goatboy, Piglet, Bongface, Fatboy Slim or Bad Dog, according to whichever of his various personalities is currently tormenting us.

What’s a typical walk for Xander?

Xander gets at least a 30-40 minute walk every day, otherwise his desire for world domination gets completely out of hand. A basic walk involves reading the weemail on every tree and adding his own message, stalking cats, barking at other dogs (especially Golden Retrievers who annoy him with their blonde good looks and cheery personalities), and eating anything he comes across that looks vaguely like food.

A great walk will involve a run-in with a mailman, a few feints at a hissing, clawing cat, and twirling around on the end of the leash whilst barking madly at a motorbike being gunned at an intersection. If he can also find a paper bag with a half-eaten dim-sim, or a discarded hamburger, then life is very fine, indeed.

Which would Xander rather catch: a squirrel, a cat, a car, his tail, or the mailman?

First, a cat – Xander reserves a special kind of hate for them as they only have one expression and stupidly long tails. Plus they all wag their tails at him then don’t want to make friends. Talk about mixed signals.

Secondly, the mailman – our mailman has deliberately not oiled his squeaky brakes in order to drive all the dogs in the street berserk. Xander is one of the more enthusiastic berserkers.

Thirdly, a squirrel. Actually, we don’t have squirrels in Australia, so Xander has suggested we change that to possum. Again, one expression and stupidly long tails.

Xander does not chase cars (waste of time as they don’t hiss or claw). Nor does he chase his tail as there is not much of it left. It was a casualty of docking (now illegal) before he came to our house and he’d rather not talk about it...

What is the most embarrassing thing Xander has ever done?

There are way too many to choose from. The most recent was at a Mother’s Day afternoon tea that I organised for my Mum and other family members. Xander worked his way around the circle of relatives, systematically trying to shag each person’s shin.

If Xander was a human, what would he be like?

Xander would be wearing a black leather jacket, smoking roll-ups, and contemplating his next smash and grab. His catch-phrase would be “Who you lookin’ at?” [see photo 3, right].

Alison Goodman’s latest book is "Eon: Dragoneye Reborn" (aka "The Two Pearls of Wisdom"), which has sold into 13 countries and recently won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel. It is also a James Tiptree Jr. Honour Book and a CBCA Notable Book. "The Times" wrote, “This intelligent, vividly written tale grips from the first page,” and SFX called it “addictive reading…the climax is gloriously tantalising.”

Goodman is currently working on the concluding sequel.

Visit Alison Goodman’s website.

--Marshal Zeringue