Thursday, May 31, 2018

Megan Bannen & Brontë

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Megan Bannen, the author of The Bird and the Blade, and I’m hanging out with Brontë, a two-year-old female Beagle-ish mutt. Fun fact: It turns out that taking a selfie with Brontë is rather challenging.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Brontë waits patiently while I down 2.5 cups of coffee and write a few words before we head out the door for our morning walk around the neighborhood.

What's brewing?

Most days, it’s Aldi’s Fair Trade Medium. I set up the coffee pot the night before so that a perfect cup of coffee awaits me by the time I stumble out of bed at 5:00am.

Any treats for you or Brontë on this occasion?

One of our neighbors has a metal box full of dog treats at the end of their driveway. Sometimes, we fill up the box with our own treats to help out. It’s kind of like a Little Free Library, only with dog treats instead of books.

How were you and Brontë united?

Last spring, we lost our beloved Zora Neale Hurston, a shih tzu-poodle-maltese-ish mutt whom we adopted shortly after we were married. I was heartbroken and didn’t think I’d want another dog so soon thereafter, but 1.) a house without a dog is basically a house without a soul, and 2.) my sons get food everywhere, so I was in need of a doggy vacuum again. Thus, we adopted Brontë from the Great Plains SPCA last June.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

We’ve long since established that all Bannen pets must be bookish. As I mentioned earlier, our previous dog was Zora, and we also have two cats: Jane Austen and Thursday Next. When we adopted Brontë, the shelter was calling her “Lady,” and that would never do. She has striking eyes and that soulful hound dog look about her, clearly a dog who belongs to the windswept moors. But she is also spunky and a bit stubborn. Brontë just seemed like the right fit for her. You can choose whichever Brontë sister you prefer. (Personally, I’m on Team Charlotte.)

Does Brontë do more to help or hinder your writing?

I’d say Brontë is helpful to my writing. She doesn’t bug me when I’m sitting at my computer, but she is always, always game for a walk, and walking helps me unsnarl plot problems and dream up new ideas.

Has Brontë inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Brontë has not, but Zora inspired the creation of a doggy character in a middle grade novel that will most likely never see the light of day. That fictional dog’s name was Rossetti, by the way.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cat: She doesn’t pay much attention to cats. Except Thursday Next. She is not a fan of that particular cat.

Postman: I think she just wonders why this person never comes inside to pet her as is her right.

Squirrel: She has nearly ripped my arm off on multiple occasions and sent me tripping over the leash in her mad pursuit to kill them all.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Brontë enjoys a fake rawhide bone and her rope toys. She’s a huge fan of stuffed animals, but since she kills them very thoroughly (plus the occasional accent pillow) that is something we have given up on.

Where is Brontë's favorite outdoor destination?

She enjoys the occasional visit to the dog park. She’s also a big fan of escaping and running amok, dangerously close to a very busy intersection. So that’s awesome.

Who is Brontë's best pet-pal?

Penny, a Siberian Husky we frequently meet on our walks.

What is Brontë's best quality?

She is incredibly affectionate. We call her The Boneless Pile of Love.

If Brontë could change one thing about Kansas Citians, what would it be?

Pour a bunch of tax money on a robust public transportation system on both sides of the state line. And to all Americans, she has this to say: high speed rail, people!

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

Why do you think jumping all over me is going to make me put on my shoes any faster or put the leash on you faster or get you on a walk any faster? Why??

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

Melissa McCarthy.

What advice would Brontë give if asked?

All you need is love … unless you’re a squirrel or a rabbit.

Visit Megan Bannen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 25, 2018

Julie Clark & Teddy

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Julie Clark, and I'm the author of the debut novel, The Ones We Choose, from Gallery Books, and imprint of Simon & Schuster. The pup is Teddy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Teddy never misses a chance to sit next to me on my reading chair, even if it means sitting on top of the book I happen to be reading.

What's brewing?

I have an automatic coffee maker that brews my coffee by 3:30 in the morning, so that it's ready when I get up to write at 4:00 AM.

Any treats for you or Teddy on this occasion?

Teddy is always looking for treats. He's not picky, and if my two young boys aren't careful, Teddy will help himself to their food as well. He has zero impulse control.

How were you and Teddy united?

Teddy was a rescue dog that we got through an organization called Dogs Without Borders. They found him wandering the streets when he was about six months old. He was malnourished and suffering from pneumonia. He spent a few weeks in the dog hospital before we were able to bring him home. But now, he lives a life of luxury, and we're not sure he even remembers his time as a street dog.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

My boys named him. They thought he looked like a teddy bear. Sometimes we call him Teddy Bear. But mostly just Teddy.

Does Teddy do more to help or hinder your writing?

He generally sleeps on the bed next to me while I write. Sometimes he'll snore. Other times he'll yip. Every now and then he'll wake up and try to settle next to me, squeezing himself between my laptop and notebook and various printed pages that usually surround me when I work.

Has Teddy inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

He has a squirrel friend who comes to visit him every morning to torment him. Around 6:30, when I let him out into the back yard, this squirrel will show up and "bark" at him from the roof of the garage or the telephone pole. It drives Teddy crazy.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky-toy for sure. He has a stuffed squeaky tiger toy that he carries around with him.

Where is Teddy's favorite outdoor destination?

The dog park. He loves to meet other dogs, and would spend all day there if he could.

Who is Teddy's best pet-pal?

Jack, a labradoodle that lives with my friend Chrysta and her family.

What is Teddy's best quality?

He's pretty low energy. Wherever we are, he likes to be there too. He'll travel from room to room with us, and then just settle in and take a little snooze while we do whatever it is we're going to do there.

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

He'd eliminate the postal service. It's his most stressful hour of the day.

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

What was it like living on the street as a puppy? How did you get there?

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

Whoever does the voice for Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street.

What advice would Teddy give if asked?

Take a nap. Things are always better when you're well-rested.

Visit Julie Clark's website.

Writers Read: Julie Clark.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 18, 2018

Melissa Caruso & Freya

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Melissa Caruso, author of The Tethered Mage and The Defiant Heir, the first two books in the Swords & Fire trilogy, novels of intrigue and magic from Orbit Books. Freya is a 9-year-old female Labrador Retriever, and the sweetest lump of butter you could possibly imagine.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Freya and I like to hang out on the deck in together while I write and sip iced tea! Our deck is my fair-weather office, and Freya is my constant writing companion. Today we're working on edits for Book Three of the Swords and Fire trilogy.

What's brewing?

Teavana Jade Citrus Mint tea, iced. I’m actually not a coffee drinker…eep! Is that allowed? (I love the smell of it, though.)

Any treats for you or Freya on this occasion?

I just had a delicious cinnamon roll, and Freya helped finish it.

How were you and Freya united?

Freya was a Christmas present to the whole family. When my eldest (who was five at the time) opened the surprise box we’d carried her into the house in and saw her for the first time, she whispered “It’s real!” in this awed voice, as if she’d seen a magical creature. And in a way she really did—I’m not sure there’s any creature more magical than a puppy!

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Freya is named after a Norse goddess. Her beloved predecessor, Sif, and my husband’s childhood dog, Loki, also have names from Norse mythology. So we have a tradition going!

Does Freya do more to help or hinder your writing?

Mostly she’s a wonderful and patient writing companion. Sometimes she decides it’s Arbitrary Barking Time when I’m trying to concentrate, though. And she kindly makes sure I never get so absorbed in my writing that I forget dinner!

Has Freya inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

One of my main characters in the Swords & Fire trilogy has a dog, Scoundrel, who isn’t directly based on Freya—but she certainly inspired some of his traits, like his intense devotion to expected leftovers and love of chasing sticks.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Freya lives with three cats and both loves and is intensely jealous of all of them! For barking at, though, nothing gets her worked up quite like deer, which we do get in our backyard sometimes.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

That’s a tough one… She’s a retriever, so she loves anything and everything she can carry around in her mouth. She has a special enthusiasm for really big sticks, though. She’ll drag around small logs if she gets the chance.

Where is Freya's favorite outdoor destination?

Any park with a pond! She loves swimming more than anything. We also have taken her on a few trips to hike in the White Mountains in New Hampshire with us, and she really loves those, especially when we hike alongside streams with lots of swimmable pools!

Who is Freya's best pet-pal?

Freya has a very special friendship with one of our cats in particular, a little female tortoiseshell called Star. Star climbs up on Freya’s back and gives her massages, and Freya occasionally brings Star dog toys in the hopes that she’ll play with her.

What is Freya's best quality?

Her boundless capacity for love. She’s one of those dogs who immediately loves everyone she meets and wants nothing more than to play, snuggle, and be petted. Though she does have one special talent—one of our friends who house-sit for us when we go on vacation has epilepsy, and apparently Freya can detect her seizures before they happen and will make her go lie down shortly before a big seizure occurs!

If Freya could change one thing about Massachusettsans, what would it be?

I think she wishes they allowed dogs in more places, especially at beaches and in restaurants…but probably most of all, she wishes she could go with her girls to school.

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

Someone with the right degree of goofy warmth! I’m not really a big movie buff, so I’m clueless about specific casting.

What advice would Freya give if asked?

She might advise us that it would be better for our health to give half of whatever’s on our plates to the dog. Also that petting dogs relieves stress…Especially in this one spot on her chest that really gets her leg going!

Visit Melissa Caruso's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Emily Adrian & Hank

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Emily Adrian. I’m the author of YA novels Like It Never Happened and The Foreseeable Future, which was released on May 8. Hank is a seven-year-old shepherd/Golden Retriever mix (we think).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Hank and I have coffee most mornings, but today is Saturday so we are extra relaxed.

What's brewing?

Some Dunkin Donuts coffee that we brewed in a cheap coffee maker from Walmart that never gets quite hot enough.

Any treats for you or Hank on this occasion?

I’m having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Hank is eagerly awaiting his human sibling’s breakfast time, at which point human sib will toss a lot of food from the high chair to the kitchen floor.

How were you and Hank united?

My husband and I adopted Hank when he was an eight-week-old puppy in the city of Toronto. Hank, like our son, is Canadian; my husband and I are both American.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Hank just seemed like a Hank—however, his full name is Hank Buckles Triumph Musty Bear.

Does Hank do more to help or hinder your writing?

Honestly? I’m never more peeved than when Hank barks at the postman, waking the baby from his nap and effectively ending my writing time. That said, Hank’s overall impact on my life is so positive that I’m quick to forgive his occasional misdeeds.

Has Hank inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Oh, absolutely.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

He’s terrified of cats, offended by the postman (see above), and indifferent to squirrels.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Shhh…he’ll hear you.

Where is Hank's favorite outdoor destination?

Any body of water.

Who is Hank's best pet-pal?

A lovely beagle named Louis, our friends’ dog, with whom he grew up.

What is Hank's best quality?

Hank is truly up for anything. In his seven years, he has been on countless road trips, stayed in hotel rooms and Airbnbs, moved with us from Canada to the states, explored cities and forests and small towns. No matter where we go, he’s right by our side.

If Hank could change one thing about Ohioans, what would it be?

We’ve been living in a small town in north Ohio since last August, and Hank’s chief complaint is that most of the dogs here are confined to their houses or backyards. He would like the dogs to go for walks, so that he can meet them.

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

Who’s a good boy?

What advice would Hank give if asked?

Remember: you’ve got three legs and a spare.

Visit Emily Adrian's website.

Learn more about The Foreseeable Future.

--Marshal Zeringue