Monday, November 29, 2010

Rachel Aaron & Lettie

Who is in the photo at right?

Myself, Rachel Aaron, and my dear little dog of very little brain, Lettie. (Aliases include Lettie Biscuit, Pumpkin Princess, and Letterbox Edition). I am a the author of The Spirit Thief, book one in The Legend of Eli Monpress, a humorous/adventurous fantasy series about a charming wizard thief. Lettie is a little sausage roll of a dachshund/pit bull mix who spends her time eating lizards, being lazy, and distracting me from writing with bursts of extreme cuteness.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

When the weather is lovely, Lettie and I will sit on the porch in the mornings. I drink coffee, watch the trees, and check my email. Lettie chases the garden lizards and generally disturbs the morning tranquility.

What's brewing?

On special occasions like fine fall mornings, I drink a medium roast from the local Thousand Faces Coffee Company. Fresh ground in the grinder and then french pressed, it's mild, smooth, and utterly delicious. I like to drink it black with just a little sugar to bring out the flavor.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Sometimes, if I look exceptionally overworked and pitiful, I can trick my husband into cooking me scones. He thinks he's helping my writing career, but really it's all an act so I can get scones! Both Lettie and I ruthlessly abuse my husband's generous and helpful nature. It is a bond we share.

Any treat for Lettie on this occasion?

Depends on if she's fast enough to catch a lizard! None from me, to her great sadness. But too many treats make Lettie Biscuit into a Lettie Loaf.

How were you and Lettie united?

Lettie was a rescue dog from Athens Canine Rescue here in GA. She spent the first year of her life as a stray, which was probably where she acquired her taste for lizards. She was rescued by a family who took her to the vet and got her spayed and up to date on vaccinations only to then have their landlord tell them they couldn't keep a dog on the property. They surrendered Lettie to the tragically overcrowded Animal Control office in Athens hoping she would be adopted. But because there was no room in the inn and she was an owner surrender, Lettie was scheduled to be euthanized that same day. Fortunately for all involved, her future foster mother had come by the shelter on an unrelated errand that day. She stopped by to look at the adoptable dogs, saw Lettie, and couldn't stand to think of such a sweet, adorable dog being killed. She took her home that day and put her into the Athens Canine Rescue network where I found her a few weeks later. We'd actually just decided to get a dog, and Lettie was the first we looked at. We didn't have to look twice! She's been with us ever since, and is now a fat, happy little goofball.

Has Lettie had any influence on your writing?

I would say she's had a much greater influence on my not writing. Not writing is the worst part of being an author. I'm talking about those times when you have a deadline and you've been writing for hours, but somehow you only have 200 words to show for it and your novel's a mess and you're a failure at everything and why are you even trying. You know, those days. When those days happen, I flop on the couch and hug my dog. Nothing can be that horrible when you're hugging your dog.

How did Lettie get her name? Any aliases?

The Athens Canine Rescue people named Lettie Lettie. We thought it was too cute and fit her perfectly, so we kept it. However (as seen in the first paragraph), she has many other names, including Lettiebell, Lettie Pumpkin, Pumpkin Muffin, Lettie Poochums, Letterbox, Letterbox Edition, House Weighs and Means Committee Letters and Numbers Division. Etc., etc.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Yes please, with a side of lizards, grasshoppers, and bees. (How my dog can chase and try to eat a bee I will never understand).

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

Lettie is an adorable dog, but she's not very bright. That's fine, we bought her to be loyal and loving, not bright. However, she doesn't seem to get fetch or the idea of toys. You throw the ball and she will stare at you like “What? Why did you throw it away? Well, if you don't want it, I don't want it.” Or, if you get her really excited, she'll run to where the ball landed and stare at it, then at you, as if to say “Here! I found your ball! It's right here! Now you know! Can we do something more interesting?”

Hmmm... perhaps she is smarter than we give her credit for.

Where is Lettie's favorite place for an outing?

The dog park! She can not wait to go and run with the other dogs, even though almost all the dogs are twice her size. She will run with the best of them until she is a horrible, filthy mess of dog. Sadly, this means going to her favorite place inevitably ends with going to her least favorite place – the bath.

Who are Lettie's best pet-pals?

Lettie loves to bully our friend Zack's pug/chihuahua mix Charlie. Charlie, however, does not like to be bullied by a dog who's twice his height and three times his weight, so the love is pretty one sided.

What is Lettie's best quality?

Her endless, unquestioning, unflagging love. This dog still loves me when I'm giving her a bath. That's some serious devotion right there.

What is Lettie's proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

Lettie has no embarrassing moments. You need dignity to feel embarrassed. But her proudest moment by far happened a few days ago. My infant son has just reached the point where he can eat crackers unassisted without choking to death. So I had given him a cracker to keep him happy while I did the dishes. I'm standing in the kitchen with my back to him, washing the dishes and describing the process in lurid detail (my son has a pretty low bar for what he considers fun), turning back to check on him every twenty seconds or so. Now, Nate is sitting in his chair, which is low to the ground, and Lettie is sitting right beside him. He's watching me, I'm watching the dishes, and Lettie is watching the cracker in my son's hand.

You can guess where this is going.

I put a glass in the washer and turn around just in time to see Lettie look around suspiciously, lean in, and snatch the cracker right out of my son's hand. It's gone in one bite. My son didn't cry, he just stared at the dog with this look of utter betrayal. Like, “You stole my cracker. Why would you do that?” And Lettie's just sitting there, licking her chops like “Hell yes I stole that cracker.” And meanwhile I'm laughing so hard I can barely discipline her.

Lettie is the worst older sister ever.

Rachel Aaron's website and blog.

the first two chapters of The Spirit Thief, Book 1 in the Legend of Eli Monpress. Book 2, The Spirit Rebellion, is out now from Orbit books, and Book 3, The Spirit Eater, launches December 1st.

The Page 69 Test: The Spirit Thief.

--Marshal Zeringue