Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Danette Haworth & Casey

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Danette Haworth, and my dog, Casey. I'm a published author living in Orlando, Florida with my family. My novels, for middle-grade readers, include Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, Me & Jack, and Two Flavors of Lucky (title might change, due 2012/2013).

A high-climbing cat named Jinx wends her way through the pages of The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, and dog lovers will be happy to know that Jack, a dog with royal bloodlines, is one of the main characters in Me & Jack, which came out this summer.

Casey is my cockapoo, my constant companion. She's one year old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Whatever time I wake, it still seems too early. I shuffle toward my cappuccino machine like a zombie. Casey tugs at my pajama bottoms, tugs and pulls, jumping, growling, dashing off and returning with a toy in her mouth and hope in her eyes, tail wagging. She makes it easy for me, pretending like she can hardly hold the toy, which I swipe in a clumsy gesture and toss. I fire up the cappuccino machine, get the milk ready, and make the morning's first important decision: How many shots of espresso? Most mornings require four, with follow-up.

Once properly fueled, I throw that toy hard, and Casey knows all my tricks, like banking it off the wall or bluffing toward the kitchen while really throwing it upstairs.

What's brewing?

Starbuck's espresso. I love cappuccino. I received a cappuccino machine for a wedding present, and I've used it (and its successors) every day since.

Any treats for you or Casey on this occasion?

Officially, we don't give Casey any treats. Off the record, not only does Casey get the scraps of eggs or little bits of bacon, she acts as a spot cleaner for the kitchen floor, letting nary a breakfast crumb fall without her immediate inspection and consumption.

How were you and Casey united?

My friend acquired a cockapoo who greeted me wildly whenever I visited. I'd hear his nails clicking on the floor during our visit, and he would, at regular intervals, slide under my hands for petting.

It had been a while since I'd had my own dog, but this dog opened my heart again. Since I couldn't kidnap him, I looked for a similar dog and found Casey! We got her when she was only two months old. She was so tiny and cute--and energetic!

Does Casey play any role in your writing?

Casey keeps me company by lying in the big, green chair in the corner of my office. She also chews up my red pens.

Does Casey have a favorite place to go for walk?

Anywhere is good if it means she's on a walk!

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Casey sits like a sentinel at our sliding glass doors, keeping an eye on the birdfeeder out back. I always know when birds or squirrels have landed, because I hear a sudden flurry of door scratching, barking, and whining. I don't ever want her to catch any of them, though, so when they've had enough time at the birdfeeder, I click open the door loudly and say, "Hi, Mr. Squirrel!" By the time Casey's leaping past the screen door, Mr. Squirrel and his bird friends are safe in the branches of nearby trees.

What is Casey's best quality?

Casey's best quality is her unlimited capacity to love and be loved. Everyone knows how loyal dogs are, but I'm not sure everyone realizes what a benefit it is to have a little personality who will accept all the love you want to give her. It can be so comforting, so restful, to stroke your dog's back, feel her softness and warmth. Casey lets me snuggle her up like a baby--I wish I could still do that with my kids!

What is Me & Jack, your latest book, about?

Twelve-year-old Joshua Reed knows how to play new kid: hang back, don’t talk too much, become invisible. Then he pairs up with Jack, a dog he rescues from the pound. Jack yanks Joshua from the sidelines to the frontlines and before Joshua can help it, he comes face-to-face with the meanest kid in school, Alan Prater. Joshua would like to be friends with Ray, but it turns out Ray and Prater are cousins, and Prater’s not letting outsiders in. Plus, being the son of an Air Force recruiter during the Vietnam War doesn't exactly make fitting in easy. When a few late night disturbances rip through town and everything points back to Jack, Joshua will have to fight for his family, his new home, and his beloved dog.

School Library Journal says, "Me & Jack is well paced and keeps readers focused and concerned about the characters and their development." Kirkus calls Me & Jack an "entertaining boy-and-dog adventure " that is "vividly depicted through [Joshua's] first-person narration and amusing interior monologues."

I hope you get a chance to read it! Thank you for having me!

Visit Danette Haworth's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue