Sunday, June 17, 2018

E.M. Powell & Marshall

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m E.M. Powell and I’m the writer of the Fifth Knight medieval thriller series as well as The King's Justice, the first in my new Stanton & Barling medieval mystery series. On my lap (even though he barely fits and he’s really heavy!) is our man, Marshall. He’s a Staffie cross and we think he’s about five. We don’t know for sure because he’s a rescue.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

If there are writers who don’t run on caffeine, I haven’t met many! When I have my first cup at breakfast, somebody likes to sit up next to me. We had a chat this morning about the upcoming World Cup. Marshall’s not sure about England’s chances.

What's brewing?

Cafedirect Fairtrade Intense Roast Ground Coffee. Best coffee around.

Any treats for you or Marshall on this occasion?

After morning walk, I have to produce a Dentastick. If I don’t, the universe is not aligned, and I will be pawed without cease.

How were you and Marshall united?

We had to put Poppy, our sweet, bonkers girl of 14 years, to sleep last summer. We were utterly heartbroken. But we only lasted three weeks without a doggo. We weren’t in any way trying to replace her. But she was a rescue and we thought, ‘Why hang around and leave a dog in a shelter when they could be home with us?’ So we found Marshall at a wonderful shelter called Homeless Hounds here in the northwest of England. He’d been abandoned and would’ve been put down if the shelter hadn’t taken him in. We fell in love with his photo. They also have a great system at the shelter where the dogs spend time in a foster home and the fosterer does a detailed write-up. We knew he was the man for us!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Homeless Hounds named him and we kept it because it suits him so well. I call him Mr Bear because of his gorgeous big face and heavy snout.

Does Marshall do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps loads because he’s a calm, settled boy and he’s so patient in letting me get on with work. He tells me when it’s time to break, though! Having a dog is a gift to my health as well. I spend most of my working hours sat on my behind in front of a computer. Having a dog means I have to get out in the fresh air and take some exercise. Without him, I’d be good as a stunt double for Jabba the Hutt.

Has Marshall inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not a named one. But in my next Stanton & Barling mystery, which is called The Monastery Murders, I have a bear-baiting scene. Bear-baiting, where a chained-up bear was forced to fight with multiple dogs, was very popular in medieval times. As with everything in historical fiction, I had to research it in depth which I found very challenging. It was horrific for bear and dogs. Marshall is of a similar powerful build to the type of dogs that were used. He’s not in the least aggressive and would have been utterly terrified, as would the poor bears. Sadly, bear-baiting still goes on in some parts of the world and illegal dog fighting is also sickeningly common. One would have thought that the human race had moved on from such senseless cruelty, but it seems it’s timeless.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cat = i-can-see-you-and-if-you-don’t-back-off-I’ll-woof. Postman = zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Squirrel = I can see you, I can see you, I can see you, I can see you up that flaming tree and I’m coming up there after you!!!!!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Kong is King. Anything else gets power-jawed to pieces in about thirty seconds.

Where is Marshall's favorite outdoor destination?

Garden games are Very Good Indeed. We also have lots of great local parks and woods. Marshall is far happier there. He’s not a huge fan of pavements and traffic. He gets quite tense in those situations, maybe because of his history as a stray.

Who is Marshall's best pet-pal?

He likes Daisy, a female border terrier who’s his neighbour. He also has a Park Friend, a daft poodle called Milo.

What is Marshall's best quality?

He’s a stoic, through and through. He takes anything and everything that’s thrown at him without complaint or fuss. We’ll never know his past, but he has part of an ear missing and certain noises make him worried. But he never gets aggressive or snappy when he’s not sure about something. He just sits or leans really hard on you to get comforted. He also likes his bed. Our bed. Any bed.

If Marshall could change one thing about the English, what would it be?

To make them more like the Irish. (I’m guessing here, but he may be influenced by my Irishness.)

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

How are you doing, pal?

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

Sean Bean. (Note: this answer is going to cause trouble. Bean is from Yorkshire, while Marshall is a Lancashire lad. The Yorkists and Lancastrians first had at it in the 15th century Wars of the Roses. Things have been simmering since.)

What advice would Marshall give if asked?

Be kinder to each other. Hate diminishes us all, my friends.

Visit E.M. Powell's website, blog, Twitter perch and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Demetra Brodsky & L.B. and Ponyboy Curtis

Who is in the top two photos here?

I’m Demetra Brodsky, the author of Dive Smack and this is L.B. (my 9-year-old female terrier mix) and Ponyboy Curtis (my 2-year-old Doxiepin).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I go to the gym at 6:00 a.m. every morning and then come home and sip my coffee on a small deck outside of our kitchen and hang out with my dogs for a while before I get to work. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I take them for a walk (we have the family on rotation) and those are actually my favorite days because sometimes I pick up a take out coffee along the stroll.

What's brewing?

This depends on my mood so much. At home, if I’m on a deadline, I use the Keurig and whatever coffee I pick up by the truckload at Costco. But I prefer my Keurig. If I’m feeling extra fancy and want to get in touch with my roots, I’ll make Greek Coffee. It’s something I grew up with and is made on the stovetop in a small copper pot. It’s similar to espresso or Turkish coffee. If I’m feeling regular fancy, I’ll get a soy latte, sometimes with lavender.

Any treats for you or L.B. and Ponyboy on this occasion?

I always have peanut butter filled Kongs in the freezer and the cookie jar filled. They’re spoiled. But if I’m having a treat, they should have one, too. Cookies for everyone all the time.

How were you and your dogs united?

I lost my job during the recession in 2009 and my dog Luke, a gorgeous 8-year Viszla, died two weeks later of undetected stomach cancer. It was a nightmare. About a month after that, I told my husband I wanted to get another dog and he was going to be the luckiest bastard every adopted and that I was going to name him L.B. I started looking at the kill shelters in Los Angeles and saw L.B.’s picture and knew she was the one. I didn’t know she was a she because she just had a number, but I called on a Thursday and they told me that Saturday was her last day. My daughter and I asked them to hold her. They wouldn’t, so we raced up there and got her the next day. She’s still L.B. for Lucky B-word. I got Ponyboy for my daughter because she was at a time in her life where she needed a good friend, a loyal friend, and I couldn’t think of anyone more loyal than a dog. We got Ponyboy local from Thrive Rescue because I knew introducing another dog might be tricky. Thrive also rescues from kill shelters and puts the dogs in foster homes to get a feel for their personalities before adopting them out. I saw him (His name was Snoopy) on their website and fell in love with that 7-month old cutie.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Oh geez, well, I answered this question about L.B. above so I’ll tell you how Ponyboy got his name. The Outsiders is the book that made me want to be a writer as a teen. Ponybody Curtis was my first celebrity crush and when we went to meet “Snoopy” he was so sweet and sensitive, like his namesake, the homage just popped out of my mouth.

Do L.B. and Ponyboy do more to help or hinder your writing?

That depends on the day. They’re both pretty mellow while I’m working and will lie down in the office near me…if they’ve been walked. Otherwise, they want to go outside every time I move.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Yes, I have a book out on submission with editors right now and there’s a husky in that book named Skyla that’s named after my friend Aly’s dog that passed away.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Hate, hate, hate.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball for L.B., any day, any time. Ponyboy is a stone cold squeaky toy killer. He uses his small, razor-sharp teeth to puncture and destroy every squeaker in every toy I bring in the house. I swear he’s very docile otherwise.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Me. I’m both of their favorites. Probably because I’m home the most.

What is each dog's best quality?

L.B. is so empathetic and loyal. If you’re having a bad day, or upset, L.B. knows and will come to you right away.

Ponyboy is a lover. That’s the first thing the vet said about him, too. “This dog is all love.” And it’s true. He’s ready for cuddles and kisses 24/7.

If L.B. and Ponyboy could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

I think both dogs would ask Californians to walk more. The traffic is atrocious.

If L.B. and Ponyboy could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I’d ask L.B. “Why do you bark at me like a lunatic every time I come home?”

And I’d ask Ponyboy, “What were you doing on the street in Compton when they picked you up?”

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

C. Thomas Howell, of course, for Ponyboy. And Jane Lynch from Glee for L.B.

What advice would L.B. and Ponyboy give if asked?

It’s okay to play more. There will always be work to do but we won’t be here forever. Step away from the computer. Aww, that answer made me sad.

Visit Demetra Brodsky's website.

--Marshal Zeringue