Monday, August 5, 2013

Annemarie O’Brien & Zar and Zola

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Annemarie O’Brien. I’m the author of Lara’s Gift, a “Lassie-meets-Dr. Zhivago” young adult girl empowerment story. I also teach writing courses at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Pixar, and DreamWorks, as well as edit children’s books for Room to Read. My friends in the photo are borzoi: Zar (5 year old male) and Zola (8 year old female).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re celebrating the launch of Lara’s Gift, my debut middle grade novel coming out on August 6, 2013. Check out the starred review from Kirkus who calls Lara’s Gift, “powerful and engrossing.”

What's brewing?

I’m having a caramel macchiato with extra caramel! Zar and Zola are having a Russian coffee with a shot of Stolichnaya vodka.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Häagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream for me and caviar for Zar and Zola.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Zola comes from the Russian word, “zolotaya” which means golden, the color of her coat. Zar comes from the Russian word, “Ryczar” which means knight, for he is my white knight.

How were you and your dogs united?

Both of my dogs were rescues. Zola came from the California Sierras and Zar came from the Washington, DC area.

Please tell us about your new book.

Lara’s Gift is inspired by a former life I led living and working in Russia during the Gorbachev years when I was gifted Dasha, my first borzoi puppy. For more information check out my web page.

How do your dogs help, and how do they hinder, your writing?

Zola and Zar were huge inspirations for me in the writing of Lara’s Gift. So much so, the fictional characters share the same names.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Definitely the squirrel! Whenever they see one, I think of the Pixar movie, Up! All they can think about is racing after it!! Even our silken windhound puppy, Zeus [photo left] can be found chasing squirrels up trees when he isn’t cuddled up with my girls reading books in bed.

What is each dog's best quality?

Zar is the most loyal dog I have ever had. Zola is the most loving animal I have ever met and would be an ideal therapy dog.

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

Zar would have Sean Connery’s voice and Zola would have Grace Kelly’s.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I would ask Zola: “Why do you howl like a wolf?”

I would ask Zar: “Why don’t you like Richard?”

Visit Annemarie O’Brien's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue