Monday, October 26, 2009

Laura Wiess, Janie & Maggie May

Who is in the photo at right?

That'd be me, Laura Wiess (left), author of the S&S novels Such a Pretty Girl, Leftovers and most recently, How It Ends. I'm hanging out with my friend Janie who generously cured my dog-less state by making me an auntie to Marvelous Maggie May, Janie's smart and sassy three year-old spayed Welsh Corgi.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My weak will. I'm totally susceptible to the siren song of dogs, friends and coffee. I can't help it, and in all honesty, I don’t even try. It's a glorious surrender.

What's brewing?

Good, strong Community Coffee from Baton Rouge. Pure and simple.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Oh, yes. We devoured half an apple pie Janie made fresh with Johnny Mac apples picked up at a local orchard.

Any treat for Maggie May on this occasion?

Besides all of those hugs and kisses? Beggin' Strips, her favorite.

How did you meet the dog; how did she come to be united with Janie?

Jane's Basset hound took gravely ill and died suddenly, leaving her heartbroken, and swearing she could never bear to get another dog. But as time passed the house felt too lonely, so she began to think about it.

She went on a retreat and while walking in the woods with her sister, Jane broached the still painful subject of perhaps getting another dog, specifically a Welsh Corgi.

Five minutes after Jane had finished explaining the breed to her sister, who was unfamiliar with them, she looked up and blurted, "There! That's a Welsh Corgi right there!" because – and talk about a truly bizarre coincidence -- one had just darted out of the woods and down the path in front of them.

So Jane went home, located a woman who showed Corgis and was told of a family that had bred their Corgi one time before spaying, and there were pups available.

Jane drove out to see them, and came home with her Maggie girl.

As for me? I met Janie through her delightful brother Stew, and was totally enchanted with Maggie the first moment I saw her. I am a very proud auntie.

How did she get her name?

On the car ride home, Janie looked at the wee pup and said, "Are you a Molly…" No response. "…or a Maggie?" Much Corgi enthusiasm ensued, so it was a done deal.

What's an ordinary day like for Maggie?

Maggie wakes up bright-eyed and ready for adventures like...
playing Frisbee…
sneaking the forbidden…
getting feisty and full of beans…
being on the look-out for marauding bears…
sacrificing herself to the burden of being adored…
and adoring her beloved in return.
Who is Maggie's best pet-pal?

Riley, the polite, handsome German Shorthair/Black Lab mix next door. She loves chasing, and then kissing on him. (He enjoys it too, although he's too gentlemanly to say so.)

What's Maggie's best quality?

Jane says it's Maggie's affectionate nature. I'd add her blithe, never-say-die enthusiasm, in that she's determined to be bosom buddies with Livy the cat, much to Livy's overwhelming horror at the thought.

What's Maggie's proudest moment so far? Her most embarrassing?

She's very proud of the welcome she gets when she and Janie visit the nursing home, and always greets her friends and family there with the utmost tenderness.

As for embarrassing, well…although hiding behind the toilet during a thunderstorm seems more sensible than embarrassing to me, Maggie does come out afterward looking kind of sheepish, so...

Have any dogs influenced your writing in any way?

Oh, yes. I can think of four, right off the top.

Although my own two big, beautiful girls have long since passed, I still miss them. Cody, a very smart, protective German shepherd, was the first dog I ever had as an adult, and she was my heart. Velvet, a soft, sweet, silky girl with a feathered tail and bloomers was a mixed breed, and gentle enough to raise five rescue kittens. (Both dogs were spayed, as I'm a fan of not adding to the pet overpopulation problem.)

The second was a short story I read years ago in a book called Animals You Will Never Forget (Readers Digest). It was titled "Savage Dog" and it broke my heart. To this day, just thinking about it makes me tearful.

And last but not least, there is Wendy Darling, an elderly Golden Retriever in my second book Leftovers. Wendy was born of loving and missing Cody and Velvet, and feeling really fierce about the fate of dogs left to those who do not keep good care of their beautiful, loyal hearts.

So while I have no doubt that I will someday find another dog of my own, for now I'm content with being Auntie Laura to the charming, cheerful little Maggie May.

I mean really, what could be better than this?

Laura Wiess is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Such a Pretty Girl, chosen as one of the ALA’s 2008 Best Books for Young Adults and 2008 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, Leftovers, and the recently published How It Ends.

Originally from Milltown, New Jersey, she traded bumper-to-bumper traffic, excellent pizza, and summer days down the shore for scenic roads, bears, no pizza delivery, and the irresistible allure of an old stone house surrounded by forests in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains Region.

Visit the official Laura Wiess website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue