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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shelley Munro: The Dog Made Her Do It

I always knew dogs ruled the world
--or at least their owners.

I've been wanting to have Shelley Munro over for a while. (This is her first time here.) When she sent me this story about her dog, Scotty, I knew she was hitting all my buttons. LOL! I'd like to say that she was making this up, but I know how relentless some canines can be. I've had my own version of Scotty living with me so I believe her!

Please welcome Shelley Munro. And visit her blog. She always has a good thread going.


Thanks to Maria for inviting me to be a guest today. When I was thinking about a topic, I tossed a few around before deciding to talk about dogs and writing. Not much in common there, or so you'd think, but the truth is I own a dog, and she's directly responsible for my first sale to Ellora's Cave.
Zap back to the year 2004. My husband worked most weekends, and I used to hurry through the housework on a Saturday morning and sit down at eleven with a coffee to watch an old black and white TV show called My Uncle is a Martian. I noticed a publisher call for stories about superheroes and decided to try my hand at a story featuring an alien. Some stories just don't work right, and I stopped writing after a few scenes.

About a month later, I was thinking about Ellora's Cave. I'd read some of their books and enjoyed them. Most of my reading was in the hotter, more erotic side of the romance spectrum. Yep, it was about time I tried to write the stuff I was reading. I pulled out my alien story and started writing it all over again. My story question--what would happen if aliens crash landed in New Zealand?

Enter the dog.

We adopted her from the Humane Society. She's a fox terrier cross and has never been a vocal dog. When she wants something, she does this intense staring thing. She just stands there and stares. It's very unnerving!

I was trying to write, but the dog kept staring because she wanted something to eat. And I have to add, just in case you think I'm a cruel owner, she'd already had her dinner but had decided it was time for a snack. I said to Scotty, “If you don't stop staring I'm going to write you into my book.” She kept staring and let out a pitiful whimper for good measure.

This is what I wrote: (Janaya and Hinekiri, the aliens have just crash landed in the New Zealand countryside.)
To her right, the leaves of a fern shuddered. Janaya scented the air. Sweat. Torgon sweat.

“Come on out with your fingers poked inside your ears,” she ordered, aiming her neutralizing weapon at the dark green bushes that had moved.

“That would be, hands in the air,” her aunt said.

Janaya shrugged, not taking her eyes off the leafy plant. “Whatever. I have a weapon. Come out.”

The fern leaves shook, dried leaves crackled underfoot. Janaya's outstretched hand never wavered, the heavy weapon still pointing at the bushes.

“Don't shoot.” A black nose thrust past a lacy fern leaf.

Janaya's eyes widened.

A black face with black eyes poked into view. “Are ya gonna shoot?”

“Janaya put the weapon down. It's a dog. Nothing to get trigger-happy about.”

“Yeah,” the little dog said. It stepped into full view. The dog stood below knee height and had white fur peppered liberally with black spots. It trotted closer, tail wagging. “Do ya have any food?”
I read this back to Scotty. She didn't seem impressed. “Right,” I said. I wrote some more.
Janaya reholstered her neutralizer and rolled her eyes. “Talking animals?”

“I never met a human who talked back,” the little dog said. “Food? Do ya have any?”

Janaya glared. “The sooner we leave this blue planet the better. How long will it take for the ship to be repaired?”
“See,” I said to Scotty. “You're causing trouble for Janaya as well. Okay, now go away. I have to do some writing.” It didn't work. The staring thing resumed and I ended up giving in. I went to the cupboard and pulled out a handful of dog crackers, hiding them around the place for Scotty to hunt out, and then went back to my writing. I decided to keep going and leave the dog in. I could go back and take her out later. Or so I thought, but that didn't happen. The dog turned into a character in her own right. She introduced herself as Killer (Annie was her real name but she preferred Killer) and hung out with the aliens, periodically demanding food. She even had the last word in the book which turned out to be Talking Dogs, Aliens and Purple People Eaters.

Desire unfurled in Janaya. Pleasure points started to hum.

Without warning, the door shot open and Killer trotted in. She bounded up onto the bed and pushed between them.

“Hinekiri and Richard told me to visit. They busy,” Killer said.

“We were about to become busy too,” Luke muttered but he scratched behind Killer's ears.

Janaya grinned as the dog rubbed against Luke with a sigh. “I suppose you're going to Alaska with us,” she said.

Killer barked. “Might. I hungry.”

“You're always hungry,” Janaya said.

“Not. Sometimes sleepy.” Killer leapt from the bed and trotted to the door then turned back to eye them hopefully.

Janaya's giggle was drowned by Luke's groan.

“Why laugh?” Killer demanded.

“No reason,” Luke said, rolling his eyes. “Hell, I'm having a conversation with a dog.”

“Good conversation,” Killer snapped.

“See you in the morning, Killer,” Janaya said.


“No!” Janaya and Luke shouted simultaneously.

Killer trotted out the door. Then seconds later, she poked her head back through.

“Killer!” Richard Morgan roared. “I told you not to interrupt Luke and Janaya.”

Janaya grinned again. Tonight there were no shadows in her heart. Instead, she felt a bottomless peace and satisfaction.

A family.

That's what she had with Luke.

“I leave them,” Killer said with a loud yap.

“Good. Go to sleep and give us all some peace,”
Hinekiri chirped.

Killer was quiet for a moment then Janaya heard her say, “Do ya have any food?”
I loved Killer. Readers loved Killer. In fact Killer featured in three books, which became known as the Talking Dog series. There's Talking Dogs, Aliens and Purple People Eaters, Never Send a Dog to do a Woman's Job, and Romantic Interlude. They're all available in e-book format from Ellora's Cave and books one and two are available in a print anthology called Romancing the Alien.
Scotty is fifteen now. She still does the staring thing and still has me trained well when it comes to food and walks. Although she's retired from the literary world, some heavy plotting occurs during our walks. We make great partners, and as she likes to remind me from time to time, she was directly responsible for my first sale to Ellora's Cave.

You can visit Shelley and learn more about her books at her website.

Her Talking Dogs series is available at Ellora's Cave.


Sandra Cox said...

Loved it, Shel:)

Kaye Manro said...

Killer is such a cool character, Shelley. And I think it's grand that Scotty is the reason for your alien series being so much fun!

Julia Smith said...

'Annie was her real name but she preferred Killer' - LOL!!

I LOVE that picture of Scotty. My dog Xena is also a silent stare-er. That's what makes your picture so fantastic! It really captures Scotty's inner thoughts, to me.

I really enjoyed your excerpts, Shelley, and your story about your first sale, which I didn't know till I followed you here.

Hi Maria!

Shelley Munro said...

Thanks for having me here today, Maria, and letting Scotty tag along.

Sandra - thanks!

Kaye - Scotty certainly has a fun personality. Once she entered my book she look on a life of her own and just about stole the show!

Julia - thanks! Scotty has the silent stare thing down. I just can't withstand it and always cave.

Helen Hardt said...

What a great story, Shelley -- thanks for sharing!


Maria Zannini said...

Thanks for a great story, Shelley! You and Scotty are welcome any time!

Shelley Munro said...

Thanks, Maria :)