Monday, September 1, 2014

Joanne Rocklin & Zoe

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Joanne Rocklin, I'm a children's author, and that's Zoe, my 13-year-old female golden retriever.

(Sneaking into the limelight: Mitzie the cat.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are celebrating the release this month of my new book Fleabrain Loves Franny. The dog, Alf, is based on her.

What's brewing?

Starbucks in my new turquoise Le Creuset French Press. The stronger the better, and with milk frothed in my little frother.

Any treats for you or Zoe on this occasion?

Much too many. Zoe will eat anything. Actually, so will I.

How did Zoe get her name? Any nicknames?

I was going to name my first daughter Zoe, which means "life". I only had sons. I shouldn't say "only"--the two of them are the lights of my life. Nicknames: Zozo; Zozy.

How were you and Zoe united?

We bought her from a breeder of golden retrievers. She is the daughter of champions, although she doesn't let this go to her head, and hasn't followed in their pawsteps.

Are there any Zoe-inspired dogs in your new novel?

Yes! My new middle grade children's novel takes place in the 1950’s in Pittsburgh, during the worst polio epidemics of that era. Franny, my main character contracts the disease and can no longer walk. During her hospital stay she is introduced to the recently published Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and falls in love with the book, and, especially, the spider, Charlotte. She longs for a Charlotte of her own. Her wish is granted in the form of the brilliant and hilarious Fleabrain, her dog Alf’s flea. Alf, the patient and generous "host" of Fleabrain, is modeled after my good-natured and friendly Zoe.

Does Zoe do more to help or hinder your writing?

She gets me moving in the morning because I have to walk her. I think of story ideas as I walk.

Who is Zoe's best pet-pal?

She prefers humans.

[photo right: Rocklin at a school presentation with puppets "Mitzie" the cat and "Zoe" the dog]

Where is Zoe's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere she can swim.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Anything she can rip apart, especially if it has cotton stuffing.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

We have two cats, so she knows cats' power, intelligence, and claws. She'll occasionally growl at other dogs, especially alpha white ones for some unknown reason.

What is Zoe's best quality?


If Zoe could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

I can't even begin to imagine. You've stumped me. Zoe loves humans unconditionally.

[photo left: Zoe the patriot, on the Fourth of July]

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

Betty White.

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

How can I make you happier?

Visit Joanne Rocklin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fleabrain Loves Franny.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. What a beautiful gal you are, Zoe. I like your kitty sister, too. Lady Caroline

    1. I always feel I should say "thank you" when someone gives Zoe a compliment, as if I had something to do with it. But thank you, anyway!

  2. Oh, Miss Zoe, you look so sweet! Especially that grey doggy face. You remind me of my late Irish Setter sister. She had a grey face like yours. Woofs and tail wags, Gage

  3. Thank you so much. Yes, she was prematurely grey, but it looks good.