Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sally Nicoll & Dow Jones

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Sally Nicoll, author of two books. The first, Bets and the City, is a comedy memoir of my short but spectacularly disastrous attempt to make a fortune trading stocks and shares. My debut thriller, The Power Behind The Throne, poses the question: What if the genuine heir to the Throne of England were a student from Seattle? Standing in front of me in the photo is Dow Jones, my Parson Jack Russell Terrier, aged seven.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Dow Jones and I live in Primrose Hill, setting for the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians and one of London’s most dogcentric neighborhoods. We’re so fortunate this vast expanse of countryside, right in the heart of London, is right on our doorstep. I tend to bump into my friends Alison, Francesca and Eddie at about 8.30 every morning. Dow Jones goes for a romp with his friends – Dexter, Floyd and Blue –then we all go for coffee at Germano’s. It’s a daily event and part of my morning ritual.

What's brewing?

I’m such a regular – and Germano’s such a hero – that the moment I sit down, a Sally Latte is placed in my hands: a single shot of coffee, drowned in milk, with two sugars in a takeaway cup; that way, the brew stays warmer for longer in winter.

Any treats for you or Dow Jones on this occasion?

If Dow Jones is in luck, he gets a pig’s ear to crunch on. If I’m in luck (or more likely, procrastinating) I get a second latte.

How were you and Dow Jones united?

He came to live with me when he was eight weeks old.

How did he get his name? Any nicknames?

As I said in Bets and the City: “I have traded on so many dogs, I might as well get one of my own.” Dow Jones also answers (sometimes) to the name of Dow-Wow.

Which Tottenham Hotspur player does Dow Jones most remind you of?

Great question! In Britain, football is of huge importance. The manager of the England team (you guys just appointed Jurgen Klinsmann; a former Tottenham player and an inspired choice to manage Team USA ) is referred to as having the second most important job in the land. Tottenham Hotspur is my team. Dow Jones is actually pretty useful with a football: tenacious, doesn’t give up easily, powerful in defence and scores the occasional unexpected goal. I guess that makes him Michael Dawson.

Does Dow Jones play any role in your writing?

Absolutely. Both on and off the page. Writing’s a sedentary job, so our walks impose a structure on my day and punctuate my routine. While he’s off romping in the long grass, I get to think about the latest plot problems, and it’s surprising how often they’ve been resolved by the time I get back to my desk. If you happen to have read Bets and the City, you already know Dow Jones elbowed his way to center stage and became the true hero of the story. He’s still sulking because The Power Behind The Throne features a Red Setter rather than a Parson Jack Russell. Whenever I write a story, it’s not long before a four-legged character emerges…

Does Dow Jones have a favorite place to go for walk?

He’s keen on the footpath that runs alongside London Zoo in Regent’s Park. Lots of intriguing smells.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Failed squirrel hunter – he just can’t climb those trees. On cordial terms with our postman. His career ambition is to capture our neighbor’s cats.

What is your dog's best quality?

Boundless optimism.

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

If he had his way, a Parson Jack Russell would star in every book I write.

What is Dow Jones's proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

The day he dug a four-foot deep hole on the beach, when we lived in Spain, he was proud as a dog with four tails.

Embarrassing? What sort of an owner would I be if I disclosed any of his less-than-glorious moments on the Internet?

Visit Sally Nicoll's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Sally Nicoll.

--Marshal Zeringue