Monday, August 6, 2012

Joanna Slan & Rafferty and Victoria

Who is in the photo at right?

That's a cartoon of Raffi and me, Joanna Campbell Slan. It's a perfect "before coffee I can't focus" photo. The ToonCamera app is only 99 cents, and I've had a ball playing with it.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every day is a Coffee with a Canine day at our house. I’ve tried, and I can’t seem to get my brain in gear without coffee in the morning. Of course, the dogs think I should serve them breakfast first, so we have a bit of a tug-of-war happening around 5:30 a.m. If I don’t get their food fixed quickly, there’s a lot of noise. You see, I thought it would be cute to teach Raffi to “speak” for his food. So he yodels non-stop when he’s hungry! I’m a slow learner, but eventually I figured out that I need to make myself a big glass of iced coffee the night before. In the wee hours pre-dawn, I grab cold java and sip it while I combine kibble and wet food, plus Raffi’s medications.

In your 2010 Q & A here, you mentioned your husband's latte-making prowess on the Expobar. Is that still your primary coffee source?

Nope—and now my husband will read this and discover that I’m “cheating” on him. I have fallen in love with those lovely Folgers Instant Coffee packs in Vanilla and Hazelnut. They are my constant companions when I travel. And they have no calories. I add Almond Breeze instead of milk and Truvia for sweetener. That gives me a healthier caffeinated start to my day than David’s delicious (but fattening) lattes.

Any treats for you or Rafferty and Victoria on this occasion?

Always. My dogs are very, very spoiled. I slice up bacon flavored Beggin’ Strips for the dogs. I take kitchen scissors and cut them into ½ inch pieces that go into a treats jar. You see, dogs don’t understand the concept of portion size. They are as happy to have a small nibble as a large one. By cutting up the strips, I can be Lady Bountiful with the treats, but not turn my pups into pork-pies.

The protagonist of your Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-n-Craft Mystery series has a Great Dane. Are there any dogs in The Jane Eyre Chronicles?

Yes, actually there are two canine protagonists in Death of a Schoolgirl. Edward Rochester, Jane’s husband, owns a Newfoundland named Pilot. He appears in the first chapter of my book. I also added a new canine character, Rags, who is named for a pup owned by Molly Weston of Meritorious Mysteries. Rags provides insight into his owner, Lucy Brayton, because how we treat our pets says so much about who we are as human beings. I couldn’t imagine a world without dogs, and I don’t want to write a world without them!

Victoria is English by birth. Did she help you write scenes for your new book?

Absolutely! Victoria is regal in every sense of the word. Today when she came back from the groomer, her “report card” said, “She is such a little princess!” and she is.

[image left: Victoria doing her much admired, "You want me to do
what?" pose

Whenever I need to channel that aloof attitude of superiority, I turn around in my chair and call Victoria. (She never comes, of course, but that’s a great reminder that royalty answers to no one.)

How do Rafferty and Victoria help you with your writing?

All writers are threatened by the dreadful malady called “writer’s butt.” You sit long enough, and your backside grows exponentially. Raffi and Vicki are insistent that I get up and let them out. That also gives my aching wrists a break. As a consequence, I owe them a lot!

What are your dogs’ proudest achievements?

Rafferty is thrilled that although he only has three legs, he can hop up on the sofa all by himself. Victoria knows she is adorable, so every waking moment is a proud moment for her. She soaks up the admiration like a sponge soaks up spilled water.

If Rafferty and Victoria could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I would devote all my time and attention to them instead of that silly machine that I tap with my fingers. Really, I am so misguided and pitiful! I could be napping the day away like they do.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Rafferty and Victoria could speak, which actors should do their voices?

Fred Flintstone would voice Raffi, and Dame Judy Dench would dub Victoria’s lines. (Fred is an actor, isn’t he? I mean, I thought he was up for an Oscar once.)

If Rafferty and Victoria could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Since Rafferty is a rescue dog, I’d ask him what his name was before the rescuers re-named him. Since Victoria is the daughter of an English champion, I’d ask her if she wishes she had been a show dog.

Maybe more importantly, I like to imagine what they would ask me!

“Why do we only get to eat once a day and you eat three times, huh? Why can’t we go for more rides, eat only canned food, and sleep with you? How come you don’t like it when we roll in stinky stuff? How come we can understand English and you don’t understand a single word of dog? What gives lady? Oh, well. We love you anyway. With all your faults. Sigh.”

Learn more about the author and her work at Joanna Slan's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Joanna Slan & Rafferty and Victoria (July 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue

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