Friday, July 8, 2011

Amy Plum & Ella

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Amy Plum, writer of Die For Me, the first in a YA trilogy published by HarperCollins. And with me is Ella (full name: Ella Oh La La de la Falaise Plum). She is around 11 1/2 and the vet guesses she’s half-Ridgeback, half-Lab/Pit.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’m a four-coffee-per-day kind of girl, and Ella’s joining me before we go out and take our afternoon walk through the vineyards.

What's brewing?

Nespresso’s “Roma”, topped with steamed soy milk made on my home machine (the Nespresso Citiz that has the separate milk-warmer).

Any treats for you or Ella on this occasion?

A square of Lindt’s Sea Salt Dark Chocolate for me. And Ella’s very favorite treat is cheese, so I might just give her a little slice of Emmental.

How were you and Ella united?

My husband and I adopted Ella from Manhattan’s 110th street pound. She was around 3 months old at that point, and had been wandering the streets, so was very dirty and had a bad case of kennel cough. I fell in love with her immediately, but we had decided to visit two animal rescue locations before making our decision. But by the time we got through with the second place, I was having a panic attack thinking someone might have adopted her in the meantime, so we raced back to the pound. (Upon adopting her, we learned that she would have been put down after another week.)

How did she get her name?

Both my husband and I love Ella Fitzgerald. So it was a homage name. The Oh La La came because she was such a handful as a puppy, and my French husband was always yelling, “Oh la la, Ella!” The “de la Falaise” is just being silly. It’s after “Loulou de la Falaise”, and means “of the cliffs”.

Did Ella have any trouble making the transition from the big city to the French countryside?

None at all. I was very apprehensive about the flight from New York to Paris, however, having heard that some dogs go insane from fright. And we had really bad turbulence for the first half-hour of the flight. When the steward brought her crate out in Charles de Gaulle airport, I couldn’t even look – I had my husband let her out. When I saw she was fine, I almost fainted from relief. She was wagging her tail and totally happy, like she had spent the last six hours in a doggy day spa instead of underneath a noisy jet.

A friend once told me about a dog he met in Australia who didn't recognize commands spoken in my friend's American accent. Is Ella equally responsive to French and English?

Ella and I went to training classes in New York when she was a puppy. So she knows all of her commands in English. I actually taught my father in law how to say “wait”, “come”, “sit”, and other commands since he dog-sits when we’re away. Those words are the only words he knows in English!

Has Ella played any role in your writing?

Only in lying beside me while I type. She’ll come out and sit with me in my office for a while, but gets bored quickly and goes out to look for the neighborhood cats.

Does Ella have a favorite place to go for walk?

We have a 3km loop through the vineyards that she enjoys. Lots to smell and chase along the way.

Rabbit, postman, cat...?

All three. But we have a ton of tiny lizards in our yard, and they are her very favorite. (Luckily she’s not fast enough to catch anything!)

What is Ella's best quality?

Loyalty. She tries to protect us against everything, barking and looking ferocious with anyone who pulls into our driveway, anyone who knocks on our door, and even thunder.

And worst?

She doesn’t like our kids. (She was the first “child” and has been jealous since they arrived.)

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

She would change my motherhood, make my children disappear and go back to the days where she got all of the attention.

Visit Amy Plum's website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue