Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marilyn Victor & Maxx

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Marilyn Victor, co-author of the Snake Jones mystery series. The second book in the series, Killer Instinct, just came out this year. The handsome little guy with me is Maxx. He’s a four-year old, five-pound, Maltese.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Although I love anything flavored with coffee (ice cream, chocolate, and chocolate covered coffee beans), I don’t drink the stuff. I prefer tea. When my favorite coffee shop closed, I started brewing my own chai lattes. Now Maxx and I sit on the back porch for a cup of tea and a cuddle before I leave for work in the morning.

What's brewing?

Chai Latte brewed with Good Earth’s original tea. I also enjoy Mrs. Kelly’s Cinnamon Ceylon.

Any treats for you or Maxx on this occasion?

Everything is a treat to Maxx. Unfortunately, his favorite delicacy these days is bird seed. I’ve had to put a fence beneath the bird feeder to keep him from eating the seed the birds toss out of the feeder. Personally, I prefer apple turn-overs – providing plenty of flaking crumbs for Maxx to lap up.

How were you and Maxx united?

For the past 6 years, I have been volunteering as a foster mom for a local animal rescue group. I have had the pleasure of caring for some wonderful dogs and have watched them go to equally wonderful new families. When I was asked to take Maxx I was told he would melt my heart. And he absolutely did. He had me wrapped around his paw from day one. Even though I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready for a full time dog, I just couldn’t bear the thought of giving him up. He’s such a sweetie.

How did he get his name? Any nicknames?

Maxx is the name he came with, but I sometimes call him Charlie because of the way he walks. He suffers from immune mediated polyarthritis (IMPA), which inflames the joints and has caused him some joint deformity. So he’s a extremely bull-legged and when he walks his whole body wiggles, reminding me of Charlie Chaplin. All he needs is a cane to twirl.

Why the extra X?

The first time I took him to the vet, the receptionist decided to spell his name with two xx’s as my last foster dog, an adorable Shih Tzu, had also been named Max. She wanted to be able to tell the two of them apart.

Please tell us a bit about Maxx's role in your writing?

Maxx insists on sitting in my lap whenever I’m at the computer. He’s very quiet and has become a soothing presence when I write. He does have a tendency to want to rest his head on my keyboard, though. I’m not sure if he’s trying to edit or is just bored with what I’m writing.

Does Maxx have a favorite place to go for walk?

Because of his IMPA, he’s only able to walk about a half a block before tiring out. When he’s had enough, he simply stops, looks up at me and waits to be picked up. So I have an Outward Hound pet sling that looks like a big purse that I cart him around in. He loves car rides, and doesn’t seem to care where I’m going, just as long as he’s coming, too.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

All of the above. He’s very protective and thinks he’s a Doberman.

What is Maxx's best quality?

He’s a cuddler. As long as he can sit in someone’s lap, he doesn’t care where he is.

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

He’d probably wish I could be a full time writer and stay home with him all day.

What is Maxx's proudest moment so far?

His proudest moments are when he’s chased off another dog. Size doesn’t matter, he’ll go after them. He doesn’t tolerate any other animals in his yard.

His most embarrassing?

Because of his love for bird seed, he spends a lot of time scavenging beneath my cockatiel’s cage. In the winter I have a plush bird warmer I put in the cage. It looks like a small yellow hand muff and the bird can crawl into it to keep warm. In the summer, I keep it on a shelf under the cage. One day I found Maxx walking in circles with his entire head stuck inside the warmer. I really wish I had had my camera handy.

Have your dogs appeared in your books and stories?

My first dog, Lacey, was a sweet, laid back Bichon. I gave her a part in the first Snake Jones mystery, Death Roll. Her sister Dixie starred in one of my short stories and Maxx will probably get a part in the next book. Actually, my love of animals in general has influenced my writing. I can’t imagine not giving my characters pets, or have at least one character interested in animal welfare. I even wrote a short story about a diving mule once. My series character, Snake Jones, is a zookeeper, which is my dream job. I know it’s a tough profession, but I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than working around animals all day.

Visit the Snake Jones Zoo Mysteries website and Marilyn Victor's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue