Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Carola Dunn & Trillian

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Carola Dunn, the author of two mystery series, the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, set in England in the 1920s, and the Cornish Mysteries, set in the 1960s.

Trillian (a bitch) is named after a character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe — in my opinion the only wholly sane, competent, intelligent, and commonsensical character in all 5 volumes. I adopted my Trillian from the county shelter nearly a year ago, at which time they guessed she was about 4 years old. She's mostly border collie, possibly with a bit of black Lab thrown in. She runs and herds like a sheepdog but she's mellower than most.

Last time I asked, you reported on quite a repertoire of teas that you drink during the course of the day. Has that changed at all?

Not much, if at all. I start the day with Tetley's regular black, then make a pot of Tetley's decaf black and green mixed, with the addition of a slice of ginger-root and a squeeze of lemon. If that runs out, I have a mug of herbal tea, usually one of Celestial Seasonings' varieties. In the evening I like Stash ginger and lemon.

Any goodies to go with the tea? Any treat for Trillian?

As I drink tea all day, yes! Usually nuts and chocolate chips—Ghirardelli's 60%. I figure my consumption of those three should guarantee the healthiest heart around.

Trillian's favourite treat is Greenies. They don't smell like something a dog would appreciate, but she loves them. And they're supposed to be good for her teeth, too.

We're health-conscious, the two of us.

Last year you wrote that Eleanor Trewynn, in Manna from Hades, has a West Highland Terrier, Teazle. Does Teazle appear in your new Cornish mystery?

Yes, Teazle is a constant presence in A Colourful Death. She has a lovely scene of her own. After several hours at a police station, she's at last let out to pee. She dashes for a patch of grass, followed by Eleanor, just as a convoy of detectives arrives. In the dusk they jump to the conclusion that Eleanor's an escaping murderer, so they end up surrounding the pair. As Eleanor remarks to their superior, "These gentlemen seem to be extraordinarily interested in her bodily functions."

Where is Trillian's favorite place for an outing?

She loves our walks along the bike path by the Willamette River every morning and her evening runs on the school field next door. But she's happy to go anywhere and she's very disappointed if I go out in the car without her, even though, more often than not, she just gets to sit there while I'm grocery shopping. Amazing, considering she refused point-blank to get in the car when I fetched her from the shelter. It took a good month of bribery to persuade her to jump in willingly.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Squirrels galore. I swear my squirrels have four litters a year, not the usual two. Thank heaven she doesn't bark at them. She just tries to climb fences and trees after them.

Tennis ball, stick, squeaky-toy...?

She's not interested in balls or sticks, but she adores soft squeaky toys. She'll choose one of her collection and race around the house, throwing it in the air, then through the dog-door to the garage. If I'm lucky she'll leave it there. If not, she'll go through the second dog-door into the yard and drop it outside. More than one has been left out in the rain for too long to be fit for rescue!

She likes non-squeaky soft toys too. One of her favourites is a baby seal that was also a favourite of my previous dog, Willow. Willow took its eyes out—always her first move with a new toy—but the only damage Trillian does is the effect of leaving them out in the rain to grow mould.

I read on your blog that you were dog-sitting Oli and he got his ear nipped by a neighbor's dog, which resulted in lots of spilled blood. You mused that the incident might inspire a scene in an upcoming novel. Has that notion developed into words on the page yet?

Not so far. Pools of blood figure in A Colourful Death so I'll have to avoid the topic in my mysteries for a while. But you never know...

If Trillian could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I'm sure she'd like more than two walks a day. A lot of the rushing around with a toy takes place when we get back from our morning 3 miles. All I want is to sit down with breakfast and the newspaper (and my cuppa), but she's still full of energy!

Visit Carola Dunn's website and blog.

Dunn is the author of over 50 books: 18 mysteries in the Daisy Dalrymple series, set in England in the 1920s; a new series--
A Colourful Death is the latest installment--set in Cornwall in the 1960s; and 32 Regencies, not counting numerous novellas.

Read more about
Trillian's first visit to Coffee with a Canine.

--Marshal Zeringue