Friday, October 12, 2012

Barbara Mariconda & Little Man

Who is in the photo at right?

Every author should have a dog like mine. I'm Barbara Mariconda, and I write children’s books – my most recent an historical fantasy novel for middle grade readers titled The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons (Harpercollins). My quirky dog, Little Man, has been by my side throughout the entire process. He’s an eleven-year-old male shih tzu mix, who has a good-natured, captivating personality. Writing can be an isolating, solitary pursuit. Little Man provides the companionship, heart, and humor that I need to keep at it. He also forces me off the couch when I’m immersed in a project, gets me out of the house for a breath of fresh air and a little exercise.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?  What's brewing?

I get up around 5:45, and begin writing. Get comfy on the couch with a cup of coffee, and Little Man gets right in the act. He’s usually in front of my laptop with me, generally nosing between my cup of Jamaica Me Crazy, Vermont Country Blend, or maybe Gloria Jean’s Hazelnut, brewed up in my Keurig. Later, on the way to the office, Little Man and I stop at the drive-up window at Starbucks for a Nonfat Chocolate Vivanno with a shot of espresso. (Little Man sometimes gets a biscuit that he snubs his nose at.)

Little Man takes his place in the conference room at my company, Empowering Writers. His other favorite office activity (besides checking out our employees’ lunch bags) is napping in a cozy spot he claimed on one of our bookshelves.

How did Little Man get his name? Any aliases?

People chuckle at the name “Little Man” – it wasn’t the name I gave him when I acquired him as a tiny, adorable handful of fur, no bigger than a guinea pig. I’d named him “Cucciolo” which means “puppy” in Italian. The problem was, no one could remember it. So, affectionately, I’d referred to him as “Little Man”, and honestly, he has such an expressive little old face, that the name stuck.

How were you and Little Man united?

Little Man came to me after a period of grieving over the loss of my eighteen-year-old standard poodle, Baxter. I knew I’d want a new dog, but couldn’t bear to have another poodle – it would be too painful to be reminded of my beloved Baxter. So, I set out to get a pug, went to a wonderful woman who worked with a variety of breeders. When I got there to meet the potential pugs I spotted this itty-bitty buff-colored puppy, cute as a button. He was calm and loveable - one look and he stole my heart.

Does Little Man make any contribution to your writing?

My writing is sometimes interrupted by the sound of the big, old wooden Chinese water bucket that houses Little Man’s collection of chewed and ravaged stuffed toys. He paws the side until it tips, and his collection of toys spills out. These include De-Beaked Hen, One Armed Bush-Baby, Wingless Goose, and Gutted Bunny.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Little Man's favorite toy is Chittering Squirrel, won by a friend’s mom at the nursing home Bingo tournament. When squeezed, the squirrel chatters. Little Man throws it in the air, places it on the rug and rolls over it for a satisfying massage.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

My house borders the woods, and squirrels, chipmunks, deer, fox, coyotes, and ground hogs are common. Little Man is aloof, mostly ignoring all of these. He has, on occasion, sniffed out and frightened toads into paralysis alongside the driveway and chased some slow-moving wild turkeys across the backyard.

What is Little Man's best quality?

My dog’s best quality is the pure joy he takes in sharing my space and my life – he is the perfect companion. When I arrive home he greets me at the door, presenting me with one of his ragged toys, wagging his tail in large circles.

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

He would have me willingly participate in a game he enjoys - sitting on the couch, repeatedly throwing his mushy, smelly bully stick on the floor, and barking at me to retrieve it. “Fetch!” he seems to say. “Come on, fetch!”

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dog could speak, which actor should do his voice?

If Hollywood made a movie about “Little Man” actor Bill Murray would provide the voice-overs.

If Little Man could answer only one question in English what would you ask him?

I’d ask him to tell me the one thing I could do that would bring him the greatest happiness. And, then I’d do it.

Barbara Mariconda is the author of over thirty books for children and teachers, her latest, The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons, a middle grade historical fantasy novel, the first in a trilogy published by Harpercollins. She is co-founder of Empowering Writers.

Visit Barbara Mariconda's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

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