Friday, August 26, 2011

Fido and Friend in FIve: Erin Murphy, Pepper and Lulu!

Erin Murphy
I met Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency about five years ago at The Pacific Coast Children's Writer Conference. I had just made the leap the fall before from writing picture books to writing novels. I came to the conference with a very early draft of my teen novel, The Ring, and a lot of trepidation! Erin would be critiquing the first twenty pages of the book in front of a whole group of other writers. Yikes! But as I sat in the hot seat (knees knocking), she was so encouraging and supportive of my fledging work. I have always been grateful for the input she gave me that helped my work along the way.

Boy Who Spoke Dog
Erin started her literary agency in 1999 and has really built a strong reputation in the business. She represents some wonderful authors who write everything from picture books to teen novels. One of my very favorite dog novels, The Boy Who Spoke Dog, was written by Clay Morgan, one of her authors. Like myself, Erin loves the outdoors--she's an avid hiker, kayaker, and traveler. She's also a devoted dog mom to two gorgeous rescue dogs, Pepper and Lulu. I caught up with Erin and her girls in Flagstaff, Arizona where they hike and hang out, and asked them The Five Questions:

1. How did you and your dogs find each other?  We're dedicated adopters of rescue animals. We have two dogs now, Pepper and Lulu. I came across Pepper at PetSmart, where the local no-kill shelter had set up a pen full of puppies. We already had two grown dogs (one old and grouchy) , and weren't seeking another. But Pepper's coloring, down to a face that's half-black and half-spotted, was so like that of Dylan, the first dog my husband and I adopted together, that I couldn't resist--even when the shelter workers said, "Oh, now you're in trouble--she's the ringleader!" And she couldn't have ended up being more different than Dylan personality-wise. I've never had a more lawful dog. She believes in pack hierarchy and in following rules. Dylan was all about playing. And his face was black on the opposite side!

Erin, Lulu, and Pepper
Strangely, Lulu also was found at PetSmart, but adopted from a different shelter. A couple of months after our dog, Avalon, passed away last year, we decided Pepper needed a companion (or maybe I did). Pepper had been such a difficult puppy, we were determined to only adopt adult dogs in the future, and since they are harder for shelters to find homes for, we figured we'd have no trouble. But we couldn't find the right dog at either shelter in town. We wanted an easy-going, mellow dog since pepper is so high strung, and we wanted a dog who was engaged with us. No dice. Finally, we went to PetSmart to check the few dogs the humane association keeps there, and the worker kept steering us to Lulu, even though we didn't want a puppy. We took her out, and she was such a love! So connected with us humans right away, and so interested in Pepper. And Pepper tolerated her, even if there wasn't love there. It turned out that Lulu was much older than the humane association had estimated. She's small for a shepherd mix, so we only had to deal with a few short months of puppyhood.

2. What makes Pepper and Lulu's tails wag?  Walks! I take them out twice a day (which is good for my endless laptop-staring-screen-staring self too). Lulu is much happier if she gets to take her ball with her, too. She likes to show it all her favorite spots in the woods, then casually leave it on the path for us to find and throw for her. When we round a curve and see her sitting in the middle of the path up ahead, looking expectant, we know she's hidden it somewhere like an Easter Egg, and we go hunting. If we can't find it, we have to ask her help, and oh, are we embarrassed! She loves outsmarting the humans.

Star in the Forest
Dogs on the Bed
3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  As a kid, I honestly didn't like most dog stories I read: they always seemed to be so sad! (Where the Red Fern Grows--oh, the tears!). But it delights me when a dog shows up as a sidekick or secondary character or illustration motif in my client's books, as in Audrey Vernick's forthcoming novel, Water Balloon, and picture book Brothers at Bat, or Dotti Enderle's Crosswire. A lot hinges on the dog in Laura Resau's Star in the Forest. Of course, Clay Morgan's The Boy Who Spoke Dog, has wonderful, funny insights into the doggie brain. And then there's author and bookseller extaordinaire Elizabeth Bluemle's My Father the Dog, in which a child finds many humorous comparisons between a dad and a dog, and Dogs on the Bed is so full of truth and silliness! There used to be a last line in the text, "Feet smell like corn chips" that I still hear in my head when I kiss my dogs' big puppy feet. I have a lot of dog-loving clients on my list!

My Father the Dog
4. If Pepper and Lulu could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  I'd stop looking in the mysterious glowing box all day.

5. In five words, tell us what Pepper and Lulu mean to you:  Cuddles, joy and unconditional love!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Erin, Pepper, and Lulu! To find out more
about Erin, her agency, and her authors, be sure to visit her website
Erin Murphy Literary Agency

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