Monday, May 6, 2013

Katherine Keenum & Palmer

Who is in the photo at right?

The gorgeous hairy one is Palmer, a three-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. His extra-long coat makes him a “fluffy” in the Corgi world, i.e., pet quality not show quality (what is wrong with the AKC?). The person is me, Katherine Keenum, a writer whose debut novel, Where the Light Falls, was published in February 2013.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Palmer and I were inspecting our almost-finished new kitchen (note the absence of knobs or pulls on the drawers and cabinets). What better way to celebrate a new countertop than to hoist him up to see where the coffee machine could now sit and then put it to work?

What's brewing?

One of the sad and almost unbelievable handicaps for a writer is my need to limit caffeine, so it’s decaffeinated French Roast from Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Market in Worcester, Mass.

Any treats for you or Palmer on this occasion?

Is there any occasion when there is not a treat for Palmer? He will eat just about anything (unfortunately including pencils), but the box of Milk-Bone Mini’s with a Corgi on the front is our reliable stand-by. For myself, I keep McVitie’s Digestive Wheat Biscuits handy.

How were you and Palmer united?

After our previous dog died in December 2010, I got in touch with his breeder, who in turn put me in touch with a colleague, who just happened to have a winter litter. My husband and I were not sure we were ready for a new puppy yet, but we went to visit in February 2011. Need I say more? It is a joy to us that Palmer’s and Badger’s bloodlines cross. (And the late Badger is now called Uncle Badger within the family.)

How did Palmer get his name?

Palmer’s dam lived on the Brimfield/Palmer line in Massachusetts, and his sire on the Springfield/Palmer line. Since Palmer is a name in my family tree, my husband suggested it on our drive home. I was already using it for my heroine in Where the Light Falls. No one will believe me, but it was months and months before I made the connection. All the children in the neighborhood assume Jeanette is named for the dog.

Any aliases?

Pomme, Pummy, and Mr. Boy.

Does Palmer do more to help or to hinder your writing?

I write in the morning on a regular schedule. Provided I have given him a chew stick after breakfast and played with him for ten minutes, Palmer settles down very companionably beside my computer.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Ah. If the mail arrives in the morning, my writing is interrupted by barking hysteria, but at least he doesn’t chew first-class mail. He goes for the advertisements. (In a lot of ways, he’s the smartest dog we’ve ever had.)

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Palmer likes to chase balls and play tug-of-war with squeaky toys. We call him the A.D.D. dog because he goes rapidly from one toy to the next during a play session—except with sticks. Those he eats. At first, neighbors were alarmed when he was clearly swallowing them, but they keep him occupied when I stop to chat on a walk and so far his digestive system has been equal to the task.

Does Palmer have a favorite place to go for outings?

No question: Moore State Park in Paxton, Mass.

Who is Palmer's best pet-pal?

We have a neighbor whose part-Great Dane named Duke outweighs Palmer four to one. I’m never sure whether Duke even knows he has an adoring follower when we go for walks together, but I only have to say “We’re going to go see Duke” to send Palmer sprinting to the front door.

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

He thinks I’m a fascist to make him walk properly on his leash instead of allowing him to switch sides at will in wild criss-crossing dashes.

If Palmer could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

How many words do you really understand?!?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Palmer could speak, who should voice him?

Oh, boy, this one has me stumped!

Visit Katherine Keenum's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Nice interview and love your fluffy little Palmer!

  2. Thanks! Now if only a fluffy Corgi will wander into a novel for me …

  3. Palmer is a fluffy for sure.

  4. i think Palmer should be voiced by Steve Martin - wry, smart, funny. fun interview! loved your book.