Friday, March 4, 2011

Gareth Crocker & Jill, Hannah, Rusty and Jack

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Gareth Crocker, author of the novel, Finding Jack.

That's my dog Jack with me in the photo at right; my dog Jill and I are in the photo below left.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee most days with my dogs. So, I guess, the occasion was ... another sunrise!

What's brewing?

Ricoffy (instant). It's so cheap, it's basically for free. I'm not much of a coffee snob and absolutely despise filter coffee. Preparation is fresh out the tin, two sugars and milk.

Any treat for you and your dogs on this occasion?

Afraid not. We're all watching our weight at the moment.

How were you and your dogs united?

By our love for chasing frisbees and barking at the mailman. Kindred spirits, we are.

Please tell us about your new novel, Finding Jack.

After losing his young family in a tragic accident, Fletcher Carson joins the flagging war effort in Vietnam. Deeply depressed, he plans to die in the war. But during one of his early missions, Fletcher rescues a critically wounded yellow Lab whom he nurses back to health and names Jack. As Fletcher and Jack patrol and survive the jungles of Vietnam, Fletcher slowly regains the will to live.

At the end of the war, the U.S. Government announces that due to the cost of withdrawal, all U.S. dogs serving in the war have been declared “surplus military equipment” and will not be transported home. For the hundreds of dog handlers throughout Vietnam, whose dogs had saved countless lives, the news is greeted with shock and disbelief. For Fletcher, he knows that if he abandons Jack, then he too will be lost. Ordered to leave Jack behind, he refuses—and so begins their journey.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Jack and Jill were based on the children's nursery rhyme (though I can't recall why). Rusty came from the shade of her coat and Hannah was named by our two young daughters who are obsessed by a certain teenage singer...

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Lions, actually (we live in South Africa).

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

Pool cleaner (the dogs love to swim).

Where is your dogs' favorite place for an outing?

The mountain behind our home. We've spent many great hours hiking through the bush ... and fending off elephants.

How is your Jack least like Jack in the novel?

My Jack is dead lazy. His idea of exertion is swallowing.

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

My opposable thumbs. If they could just rid me of them, then perhaps I would spend less time in front of the laptop and more time diving with them for the evil pool cleaner!

What is each dog's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Proud: Jack, seeing himself on the cover of my novel. Jill, seeing herself in the words of my novel. Rusty, keeping our yard free of wild animals. Hannah, managing to not get stood on (she is a tiny Yorkie)

Embarrassing: Jack, seeing how fat he is on the cover of my novel. Jill, eating the pool cleaner ... again. Rusty, her fear of lightning (which in South Africa is a major issue). Hannah, being mistaken for a slipper.

Visit Gareth Crocker's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Finding Jack.

--Marshal Zeringue