Libertà’s very first guest blog comes from much-loved Australian author Anne Gracie whose captivating stories have won her fans all over the world.
Anne Gracie started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world, writing by hand in notebooks. Now published by Berkley USA and Penguin Australia, her Regency-era romances have been translated into more than eighteen languages — including Japanese manga (which she thinks is very cool).
A life-long advocate of universal literacy, Anne also writes books for adults just learning to read.
Move over TK, the Writer’s Cat. Make room for…
Anne Gracie and Milly, the Writer’s Dog
I grew up with animals, all kinds of animals, and a house without at least one animal seems empty to me. I’ve had a variety of pets, including cats, but the one animal that’s a constant in my life is a dog, and my current companion is Milly.
I sometimes tell people who ask about breeds that she’s a Baluchistan Hound. (And if you don’t know what a Baluchistan Hound is, you need to read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.)
She’s a happy little soul and will dress up and be glamorous when required, especially if she thinks she’s about to go out somewhere interesting. I have to say Milly isn’t as keen on accessories as my previous dog, Chloe, who loved wearing scarves or boas and never once tried to take them off.
Milly likes boas — to chew.
Dogs are excellent companions for writers. They love to keep you company, but unlike cats, they don’t walk on your keyboard. And once they learn that books are not for chewing, they will happily snooze beside your desk for hours.
Apart from the good company, a dog will drag you out at least once a day for a walk. Writing is such a sedentary occupation that exercise is essential, but it’s also something that’s all too easy to put off. Or avoid. Not with a dog in the house.
The very first thing any dog learns as a puppy is Silent Reproach.
If the hour for walking has, in their opinion, passed, they will sit patiently at your elbow, perhaps giving you an occasional nudge with a damp nose, gazing at you with tragic brown eyes, doing an academy award-deserving (or blue ribbon prize) imitation of a dog who not only hasn’t had a walk, but who has probably been kept in a cardboard box her whole life, has never been fed, or ever experienced a single moment of happiness.
You sigh. You save your document and say “Oh, all right.”
And suddenly there is a little black creature frisking madly at your feet, racing to the front door and back a dozen times a minute, tail wagging frantically. You reach the front door, where the lead hangs and suddenly Tornado Dog turns into a frozen statue of Noble Dog Sitting and Waiting for Her Lead. Never did a dog deserve a walk more.
The walk itself is not only a source of fresh air and exercise and possibly inspiration for the writer, it will contain a dozen laughs at the very least, because dogs are funny. They’re funny with other people and they’re especially funny with other dogs. And if there are no other dogs around, they will find wonderful smells and disgusting things to roll in, and birds or rabbits to chase. You will also meet a variety of other humans, all interesting and some delightfully eccentric — dog people come in all varieties, and almost all of them are lovely.
So if you want to be a writer, get a dog.
Huge thanks to Anne Gracie for being Libertà’s first guest
Thanks also to Milly for graciously posing for those pictures. We can see why Anne believes that a writer’s best friend is a dog, especially a dog like Milly.
“Get a dog” sounds like great advice, Anne, especially to the pet-challenged members of the Libertà hive. Sophie has the famous TK, but the most Joanna can boast is borrowed pet time, plus the occasional splurge of frog spawn in the pond.
Connect with Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie blogs regularly with Word Wenches where you can read about subjects as diverse as Regency Christmas and chimney sweeps.
Anne Gracie’s next book in the Brides series will be available in July. The gorgeous cover of The Summer Bride is on the left.
If you can’t wait till then, try one of the earlier brides stories.