Thursday, January 19, 2012

Megan Rix teaches dogs new tricks and has a book to give away

Introduction by Gail Allison

**Giveaway is now closed**

Megan Rix was born in London, England, but has lived all over the globe, from Singapore to New Zealand to the USA. She eventually married and settled into the East of England with her husband and two dogs: Traffy and Bella. When Megan sat down to write her memoir, "The Puppy That Came for Christmas" (reviewed here), it was such a personal story, that she chose to publish it under a pseudonym. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I guess...) she was so excited when the book came out that she went and told everyone that it was hers. Megan also writes children’s books as Ruth Symes. And she doesn’t keep her talent to herself: she can be found running workshops at children’s literature festivals and teaching courses in Writing Children’s Fiction at assorted universities and summer schools.

Thanks to Penguin Books, we have TEN copies of "The Puppy That Came for Christmas" for some lucky readers in the US and Canada.

Megan can be found at her website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

What did you do to celebrate when your book was published?
When Jamie and my friends at Helper Dogs heard ‘The Puppy that Came for Christmas’ was about to be published they organized a launch party for it. I imagine book launch parties are usually quite formal and wouldn’t allow dogs to attend – and that wouldn’t do at all for me! The publishers donated £100 and we had the party at the Helper Dogs training centre. It was very informal with lots of dogs and dog treats, as well as people and people treats. Rusty, the dog who trained me, even did a performance and everyone got to meet Traffy.

What do you do when you get writer's block?
I don’t get writer’s block – I think it’s because I usually have a few different projects on the go (I also write children’s fiction and scripts as Ruth Symes.) When I’m not working on a book or a script I’ll blog, along with some other UK children’s writers at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, or enter a writing competition, or write free hand in my journal.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone wanting to write a memoir?
Keep a diary or a journal – it’s invaluable. I didn’t always keep a diary and I didn’t have one to help write "The Puppy that Came for Christmas," but what I did have was the journal I wrote in when I was upset or concerned about something, just for myself. Fortunately, I was also writing a newspaper column about Emma and blogging about the dogs, which helped a lot – it’s so easy to forget the small details that bring vibrancy and life to a book. Now I regularly write in a diary/journal and I expect I always will.

What essentials do you need for writing (snacks, music, etc.)?
Gallons of coffee and an incense stick burning. Plus I like to put my timer on for an hour at a time – it helps stop me getting distracted.

If "The Puppy That Came for Christmas" was made into a movie, who would you want to star as yourself?
I asked Ian who he’d like to play him in the movie of the book and after some umming and aahing he said George Clooney and I said in that case I think I’d like to play myself!

What was your first experience like training a service dog?
Fun, hardwork and heartbreaking – but I’m so glad I did it. I’ve just had a photo of Emma from her disabled partner Mike – he says the school now has her photo up on the members of staff board.

Which of the dogs was your favorite to work with?
This one’s so hard to answer as all the dogs I’ve worked with have been so different with varied personalities and needs and I loved them all so much. From the perspective of who was the fastest learner it would have to be Emma. From the perspective of who made me laugh the most, Freddy and from the perspective of who melts my heart with a look, Traffy.

What are three things readers may not know about you?
I’ve been an extra in lots of movies (including Harry Potter’s and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). And I’ve acted in a Chinese soap opera shown on Singapore TV.
As well as "The Puppy that Came for Christmas," I also write children’s books and scripts.
I fell off a steep cliff while I was travelling in Australia and came away basically unhurt (but shaking like a leaf) when by some lucky fluke I landed headfirst in a deep rock pool.

What was the last movie you saw and what were your thoughts on it?
"Planet of the Apes" – I had a cushion over my head whenever I thought someone was going to be cruel to one of the apes and loved the use of sign language in it. A friend of mine has a deaf boxer dog who she uses signs with – only of course the dog can’t sign back like the apes could.

Any current or future projects you can share with us?
My first children’s novel as Megan Rix is coming out in the early summer. It’s called "The Great Escape" and set in wartime Britain and has three animal stars. The first draft of my second memoir, "Traffy at Two" is almost finished and when I’m not writing that I’m working on "Cat Magic," the fourth in my Bella Donna series written under the name of Ruth Symes. In between writing I can usually be found by the river walking Traffy (who is often in the river).

Special thanks to Megan for a lovely interview and to Penguin books for so generously sharing Megan's book with our winners!

How to win "The Puppy That Came for Christmas":
Please comment below with your e-mail address. (Please note:Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What do you find most fascinating about any kind of animal?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines, as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends January 24th at midnight EST.


Lilian said...

WOAH, twn copies *o*

1. Please tell us: What do you find most fascinating about any kind of animal?
Cats can survive a 3-story "jump"...and dogs see in grayscale...boggles my mind.

2. I'm a follower.

3. twitteed:

4. Joined Chick Lit Central on

lilianxcheng AT gmail DOT com

Jeryl M. said...

It amazes me that animals can be miles away from home and still find their way home.

I am a subscriber.

I am a Facebook fan.

Marthalynn said...

Wow, I can't believe you survived that fall! How incredible.

The thing that fascinates me about animals is their instinctual behavior. It's amazing.

I'm a follower.

marthalynn16 (At) gmai (Dot) com

bn100 said...

1. I'm fascinated by how caring they are towards people and other animals.

2. I follow this blog.

Thanks for the giveaway.


Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book.

Dogs are so empathetic.

I am a GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Literary Chanteuse said...

I find it amazing how intelligent they are. In the infamous words of my niece " My dog is smarter than most people I know" lol! I'm a follower.


Krystal Lynn said...

Intelligence and animals acting like humans. It's cute. :)

Na said...

I would love to adopt a puppy or dog one day. I find they are really attentive loyal, adorable and make a great friend. They are also intelligent and those that are guide dogs I admire.


m7c57 said...

All the animals, cats, are my friends. I would be lost without them.


Nancye said...

This sounds like a book I would enjoy!

What I find most fascinating about my dog is that she is SOOO smart!! She looks at you like she knows exactly what you are saying. I don't know if it's possible for a dog to have a sense of humor, but my dog seems to! She is so funny sometimes!

GFC Follower

I Tweeted:!/NancyeDavis/status/162031651889758209

FB Post:

I like you on Facebook

Thanks for the cool giveaway!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Melissa said...

Since there are 10 copies being given away and 10 comments (11, but two were from one person), you ALL win a copy. I'll be contacting you soon for your addresses!

Literary Chanteuse said...

Wow! Gotta love it when that happens! Thank you!

Nancye said...

Yeah!! Can't wait to read it! :)