Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gayle Rosengren & Fiona

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Gayle Rosengren and I'm a children's author. My debut book, a middle grade historical fiction novel called What the Moon Said was just published by Putnam/Penguin on Feb 20th, so I need plenty of coffee to keep me hopping from one bookstore/school/online interview to the next and still have the energy to work on my next book.

My adorable companion is Fiona, my 3 year-old Bichon Frise. She is quite the darling little girl, don't you agree?

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is a mostly normal morning for Fiona and me. She is never far away from me (although not usually seated at the table; this was a special occasion for her online debut!). Whether I'm at my laptop with my first cup of coffee or heading up to bed at night, she's somewhere in a two-feet radius of me. She loved being invited onto the chair next to me to share this coffee moment but she especially loves hopping up on the couch to watch a movie with me at night.

What's brewing?

Our favorite home-ground beans topped off with Italian Sweet Cream. Mmmmm! The house smells wonderful for hours afterward.

Any treats for you or Fiona on this occasion?

Fiona always gets a few "accidentally" dropped Cheerios. I sometimes treat myself to chocolate biscotti. I'm also addicted to the scones from my favorite bakery and try to sneak one in at least once a week. My first choice always is their chocolate chip scone, which comes with the expected chips inside as well as a drizzle of dark chocolate and a drizzle of white chocolate frosting on top. Yum--they're to die for!

Are there any dogs in your fiction who are inspired by Fiona?

There is a dog in What the Moon Said who is more reminiscent of a German Shepherd I had many years ago and loved dearly. But the dog in my next novel (tentatively titled Joanna's Cold War) is definitely modeled after Fiona. She is small and white and cuddly and always gives excited welcomes to the main character when she comes home. Her name is Dixie.

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

I'd have to say a little of each. When she wants a walk and I'm in the middle of a writing streak, it can be a little frustrating to have to stop. But she also gets me out into the fresh air for a while, which gets my brain firing on all cylinders, and that’s a good thing.

How did Fiona get her name?

Fiona was named by the woman who rescued her from a Milwaukee humane society shelter. The woman runs a Bichon Rescue agency outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where I live. Most of the dogs she saves come from auctions of puppy mill victims. Fiona was one of the lucky ones. Somehow she ended up on the streets, but it seemed pretty clear she'd been well taken care of prior to that and she was very well-trained. She couldn't have been on the streets for long. Why no one claimed her is beyond me, but their loss turned out to be my great good fortune. She's a sweetheart. I could have changed her name to anything I wanted, but I loved it. She really is a Fiona.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

She'll bark at any critter and try to chase it if she's outside--whimper and yelp and bark if she's inside viewing them through the window. She barks at delivery people and friends who arrive, but she stops as soon as she sees they're being invited inside.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

She loves to play, and if I'm too busy to play when she's in the mood, she'll flip her stuffed bunny or owl into the air and then pounce on it and run around with it, then flip it up again and repeat. She does love the fact that the bunny squeaks and the owl hoots (although in kind of a spooky way!).

Does Fiona have a favorite place to go for outings?

She loves to go to go anywhere in the car, but her favorite place to stay for any length of time--especially without us, if we have to travel without her--is her former temporary home with the woman who rescued her. There are generally at least fourteen other Bichons there at any given time, awaiting adoption, so there is no lack of playmates and there are no cages. All the dogs are treated like house pets. Luckily, it's a good-sized home out in the country and there's a big deck and fenced in yard. We joke that we're taking her to doggie sleep-away camp. She's always happy to go, but she's even happier to be taken back home where she is not only Top Dog but Only Dog.

Who is Fiona's best pet-pal?

Her best pet-pal is Reggie, my daughter and son-in-law's beagle-mix. They live only a mile away and when they have to go away for a weekend they bring Reggie to our house, and if we're only going away for a night or two, we take Fiona to their house. The two of them get along well, except for always wanting to steal the other one's food! Talk about the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence!

What is Fiona's best quality?

Hmmm… She has lots, so it's hard to choose just one. Her Best quality, though, would have to be her very loving personality. She a cuddler and a snuggler and looks at me with such adoration it's embarrassing sometimes (but awfully nice!).

If Fiona could change one thing about Wisconsinites, what would it be?

She'd probably wish they weren't so darned devoted to exercise, so they wouldn't go jogging past her house so often. She wants to chase them in the worst way but can't, so it's very frustrating.

If Fiona could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

This is an easy one: Sweet little Fiona, how did you come to be separated from your first family and lost in the scary city?

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

Jennifer Lawrence! I can hear her now--so funny!

Visit Gayle Rosengren's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. What a pretty lass you are, Fiona.

  2. You sound like such a sweet little girl, Fiona! If I were in Wisconsin, I would love to meet you.


  3. Love the concept of this review site so very much! Terrific interview! And totally loved this book, WHAT THE MOON SAID!! Has just a wonderful, fully-realized main characters, the vibrant & lovable Esther. The historical background (Depression Chicago and incredibly challenging farm-life after the move to rural Wisconsin) blends in perfectly with Esther's story, And the book has just the right voice for someone of Esther's age and has a marvelous structure (flowing seamlessly from scene to scene, chapter to chapter), with just beautiful use of language. A great mother-daughter relationship book. Also, because it is written so well and at an age-appropriate level for Middle Grade minds, would be a terrific "read out-loud" book for home or the classroom I'm sure. A++++