Monday, July 23, 2012
The Immortal Tux
The handsome spokescat for the Janis Flores novels is here with pertinent questions.
Tux: Why do you always have animals in your novels?
JF: The simple answer is that animals make good characters. We’re a society that literally spends billions on our pets, so I know a lot of people feel the way I do. Animals also add to the story, giving the reader a different insight into the characters themselves. You can tell a lot about a person (or a character) by the way he or she reacts to an animal.
Tux: Is that why you created Royal,
JF: Absolutely. Royal was a joy to write because he became one of the most important characters in the story. He and the heroine, Terra Cavanaugh, form an instant, almost mystical bond, from the moment they meet. I’ve felt that bond with many of the animals that have passed through my own life.
Tux: But didn’t Jake Vreeland (the hero in the book) call Royal a “royal-pain-in-the-a**” because he couldn’t keep his mind on his training?
JF: Well, it’s true. Royal in the beginning is like the little boy in school who has more fun pulling pranks than in studying. Jake does despair that Royal will ever become a great search dog, like his father, Mano. But Terra has complete faith that one day Royal will do something to make Jake proud.
Tux: And does he?
JF: (smiling) You’ll have to read the book to find out. But I promise, you’ll be satisfied.
Tux: You have a lot of dogs yourself. How many is it now? Ten? Twenty? Fifty?
JF: Now, Tux, you know we currently have just four dogs. One is a Corgi, another is an Australian shepherd, the third is a black and white terrier mix we rescued, and the fourth is another rescue, a coal-black three-legged mix of Papillion and maybe long-haired Chihuahua.
Tux: A lot of people wonder if a dog can get along with just three legs.
JF: (laughing) She doesn’t seem to notice that she’s missing a limb—or care. In fact, she can outrun me any day of the week. And if she’s excited or wants a treat, she bounces on her one hind leg like she’s on a pogo-stick.
Tux: I hate to get you started, but you also seem to have a love affair going on with horses, both in real life and in your books. Being of the feline persuasion, I don’t understand it myself, so maybe you can explain the attraction.
JF: I fell in love with horses from the time that I knew what a horse was. I used to beg my parents to take me on the pony rides at the park when I was small. I have a picture of myself when I was about four or five, in my cowboy outfit, riding one of those ponies. I’m smiling with pure joy.
On a side note, my husband, Ray, has a picture of him in his cowboy outfit at the same age, riding a pony, too. Talk about serendipity! Years later when we met and married, we had these photos framed. Then we bought our first horses. We’ve had horses ever since, although now we’re down to just two Arab geldings. They’re both in their 20s, but still rarin’ to go.
Tux: (sighing) I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned horses. Now I’ll never get you off the subject.
JF: Well, we could talk about Oreo my attack rabbit if you like.
Tux: (shuddering) And that’s what she was—an attack rabbit. People think that rabbits are cute and cuddly, but she used to scare the heck out of everybody—except me, of course.
JF: (trying not to smile). Of course. I have to admit, she was spoiled. My ever-loving husband built her the Taj Mahal of rabbit hutches in my home office, so she could watch what was going on. She was a good distraction at times. I’d be working, so it would be very quiet, and suddenly she’d leap up and run around the hutch like her tail was on fire. I think she did it to keep the dogs—and me—on our toes.
Tux: You used to comb her every day, I remember that.
JF: And I still have that big bag of white rabbit hair. One day I’ll spin it into yarn to make myself a coat. Or perhaps a hat. Or a scarf… Or maybe I’ll just keep it in the bag as is.
Tux: Well, that’s all for now. Maybe next time we can talk about you and social media. Are you getting the hang of it yet?
JF: I’m trying, I’m trying.
SWEETER THAN WINE is available from Musa Publishing. To read an excerpt, please click HERE.
I'll be back Wednesday with a new menu. Until then...