Monday, September 21, 2009

Carola Dunn & Trillian

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Carola Dunn. I'm an author, with 51 books published and another in production--about to start on the 53rd. They include my Daisy Dalrymple mysteries (Sheer Folly, the 18th, is just out) and Cornish mysteries (Manna from Hades). My dog is Trillian, a bitch, around 4 years old (guesstimate), mostly border collie with a bit of lab (another guesstimate) mixed in.

What's the occasion for Cuppa with a Canine?

I drink tea all day, everyday, but the best cup of the day is the last. Trillian and I go for a last run on the school field behind our house, then I make a cuppa and sink into my recliner. She comes to sit on the footstool in front of me for a petting. I don't start to drink till she gets down or I'd have hot tea all over me.

What's brewing?

Breakfast: Tetley's British Blend. All day: a mix of Tetley's BB decaf and Tetley's Green decaf, with a slice of ginger root and sometimes a slice of lemon or lime. Late afternoon: various herbal, usually Stash or Celestial Seasonings, usually hot, or sun-tea if the weather calls for it. That heavenly bedtime cuppa: Stash Lemon and Ginger.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not at bedtime--I've brushed my teeth and I'll be d****d if I'll brush them again. During the day, roast pepitas, choc chips (Ghirardelli's 60%), sometimes almonds, grapes from my garden--I'm trying hard not to bake goodies!

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Trillian loves Nutro Greenies and potato stars and practically any dog treats except lamb. Unlike Willow, my previous companion, she rejects almonds and pepitas, but she does like bread scraps when I bake bread.

How did your dog come to be united with you?

My Willow died last November. For a long time I couldn't face looking for another companion, then I didn't want to get a dog when I was planning to be away for a month (with son and grandkids in England). Then I came home and started to haunt the County shelter. Trillian had been there for a week, picked up with no collar, too scared to be given her shots so she was in isolation. I talked to her through the bars, and after backing off at first she came to listen. I was allowed to have her outside one on one, and after I'd sat on the ground just talking for about half an hour, she came and sat next to me and let me hug her. Next time, I brushed her--sadly needed. She had to be spayed, as well as getting her shots, and then they let me bring her home. From being scared of everything, she now loves playing with other dogs and meeting people (mostly--she's still a little nervous at first with some, especially men). She's still very scared of getting in the car, but we're working on it.

How did she get her name?

I'd been rereading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Trillian is the only completely sane, intelligent, competent and practical character in all 5 books of the series. Quite coincidentally, the shelter staff called her Brilliance--so it wasn't a big change when she came home with me.

Has your dog influenced your writing in any way?

Not Trillian, specifically, but my love of dogs in general. There are dogs in many of my books, sometimes important characters, sometimes just passing through. Daisy acquired a mutt, Nana, in Styx and Stones. She found important evidence in Mistletoe and Murder (then ran off with it and buried it!) and discovered the body in Black Ship. Eleanor Trewynn, in Manna from Hades, has a West Highland Terrier, Teazle, very like my mother's last dog.

What's an ordinary day like for your dog?

First thing, I do my floor exercises. As often as not, Trillian lies on her back on the floor beside me and does hers too. Then we go for a three-mile walk by the Willamette River--lots of lovely smells and quite often meeting friends both human and canine. Home for breakfast, and then mostly patience while Mama writes. Unlike Willow, she rarely lies right behind my rolling chair, which is a great help! She likes to lie in the garage, where I had a window of reinforced glass put in specially for Muffin, Willow's predecessor, so that she could see the street. (It was Willow's favourite place, too.) She likes lying in the sun sometimes, in her fenced part of the yard, and being black gets almost too hot to touch. There are often squirrels to chase up trees, and she can see dogs and people on the school field. She can choose where to be as there's a dog flap from utility room to garage and another from garage to outdoors. In the summer I mostly don't take her places in the car, but when the weather cools off, I hope she'll learn to enjoy trips to the store etc, and will come to be sufficiently relaxed in the car to go to the beach once in a while.

Who is Trillian's best pet-pal?

She has lots. On the school field, she loves to play with Sergeant. A couple of times she's stayed with neighbours when I was away for a day, and she loves Oli and Maka.

What's Trillian's best quality?

Affectionate, intelligent, patient--altogether a sweetie-pie. I'm so lucky!

What's your dog's most embarrassing moment so far?

Having to be pushed and shoved and hauled into the car to come home from the pound, with the help of the big boss man because I couldn't manage it. OK--I was the one embarrassed. She was just scared.

Her proudest?

Getting into the car without being dragged in by the leash. Sitting on the back seat without trying to climb onto my lap. Not freaking out when the doors were closed. Going to PetSmart and sniffing all the wonderful smells. --Still had a bit of a battle to get her back in to go home. (Give it time.)

Visit Carola Dunn's website and blog.

She also blogs at Poe's Deadly Daughters about such subjects as the difficulty of changing periods, having just finished writing a book set in the 1960s (sequel to Manna from Hades) and being about to start another set in the 1920s (19th in the Daisy Dalrymple series: the 18th, Sheer Folly, is just out).

--Marshal Zeringue