Hi, Jayne. Thanks for asking questions about my Mutt Mysteries story, “This is Not a Dog Park.”
Tell us about the furry members of your family.
The last furry one in my home is my aging dog Current. He’s the best, especially now that he no longer runs full tilt all the time. He’s quite a laid back old guy now, although walks and his backyard life in a big, treed yard brings out the pup in him. He’s a mutt with predominant hound tendencies. He began life with all black fur, but now he’s much grayed in the face and up the fore- and hind legs. He has sweet deep brown eyes.
How did your dog(s) pick you to be his/her/their fur-ever mom?
We selected Current as a puppy for my then 12-year old daughter. She wanted a puppy, and I thought our “puppy project” would be a perfect way for her to have a wholesome, young teenager focus and distract her from pre-teen angst. It worked! She’s nurturing anyway, so Current got a great mom. Once my daughter left for college, my son was happy to become Current’s master, and this dog eased my son’s teenage years, too. Of course I was always Current’s grandma and the one who taught the kids about responsible dog ownership. My husband, usually a non dog-loving person, expended his affections on the very maternal and docile dog we had when the kids were younger.
What is your dog’s favorite toy?
My dog’s favorite toy is a throw pillow-sized plush hollow tree stump that houses three tiny plush squirrels. Of course the squirrels have squeakers sewn in them. He paws out the toy squirrels and hides them around the house, and then he brings the toy stump to me. I haven’t taught him how to gather the three squirrels yet, so I’m the one that collects and repacks the squirrels in the stump so he can begin again. We call it the “squirrel hotel."
Is the dog in your story in To Fetch a Thief based at all on your dog?
Adam’s sheprador in “This is Not a Dog Park” isn’t like my now-old dog, since Adam’s dog is young and very active. Adam’s dog is like my dog in the sense that my dog is my trusted companion and my emotional support, just as Adam’s dog proves to be.
Where is your dog while you write?
While I am writing my dog is one room away, aware of my every move. If I stop writing and go downstairs, he follows. When I return to my writing room, he heads for his dog bed in my son’s room. As he gets even older, I’ll move his dog bed into the writing room with me.
Where did you get the idea for your story in To Fetch a Thief?
On one commonly traveled route of mine, I drive past a small park with narrow road frontage where people run their dogs. I saw a local newspaper article about an “off-leash” controversy affecting that park. When signs posted along the road proclaimed, “This is Not a Dog Park,” I had mixed feelings. The park is not close to my home, so it’s not a place I ever took my dog. Well, this impression stayed in my brain, although I lost track of the issue. Once I chose this setting for my novella, I finally visited the little, narrow park, which turns out to be neither small nor columnar!
It’s a good-sized park on the highest geographical point in the area, and it serves as a watershed to two rivers, water to the east flows into the Chicahominy River and to the west into the James River. There’s even an American Civil War connection. The remains of Confederate army earthworks can be found in the southwest corner of the park. At least one sign reminds visitors to leash their dogs, but I still see many free-roaming dogs playing with their masters.
How long did it take you to write your story?
Oh, my word. I’d not written stories longer than 8,000 words, so this was a toughie! It took me a few weeks of stops and starts to get cranking. Once rolling, I finished the story in five weeks . . . of focused part-time writing . . . interspersed with dog walks, housework, volunteer duties, loafing—life in general.
Do any of your other stories (or future stories) involve a canine companion?
Yes. I’ve got one as-yet-unpublished short story I really like that features German shepherds as companions attached to women family members across several generations of history. I really want to see that story’s debut. In 50 Shades of Cabernet, you’ll find Bruce the Bulldog in “Home Tour Havoc.” Bruce is Edna Reynolds’ long-suffering pet. He accepts his effete adornments—a jeweled collar and rhinestone leash—with dignity. When Edna directs pet portraitist Olivia Morris to depict Bruce as a British Beefeater palace and fortress guard, Olivia only paints, and does not dress, Bruce in costume. Olivia notices odd details at a new home showcase, as does Bruce.
In addition to writing and spending time with your dog, what other hobbies do you have?
My hobbies include reading, walking, and examining old and abandoned locations and objects. You’ll see more of my answer in the answer to the “what makes my tail wag” question. Oh, I play pickleball a few times a week, too.
What makes your dog’s tail wag?
My dog is so happy when someone comes to our door—well, once I tell my dog the person is welcome. Before that he’s all guard dog, barking loudly. On walks, too, his tail wags when a person approaches and when I signal that a nearby dog is okay to greet.
What makes your tail wag?
Oh, my. My tail wags when I walk in the woods, wander a vacant property, explore a thrift store, or go to an estate sale!
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