Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meet Maris, Gina Collia Suzuki's Rat

I had always found rats creepy... until now. Just look at that photo!

Please welcome my special guest, Maris the Rat!

Maris is the beloved pet of Gina Collia Suzuki, author of The Wonderful Demise of Benjamin Arnold Guppy and Utamaro Revealed.
She loves writing satirical fiction and historical nonficion focusing on 18th century Japanese art. Gina is also an artist. She lives in the southwest coast of England with her husband and SEVEN other rats besides Maris (is Gina insane?!)

Maris keeps her own blog at The Kingdom of Peas.

Bio: Maris, known to her mom and dad as Mish-Mash, or 'Little Pink Princess,' on account of those gorgeous big pink ears, is a striped Roan dumbo fancy rat. As a baby she had a strong grey stripe down her back, but she lost that early on and turned into a silvery-white fluff ball. She is two years and two months old, which is about sixty-three years old in human terms, and has been blind in one eye since she was a tiny baby. She is an emissary for all ratkind, spreading rat-love all over the world, can sneeze whilst holding three chocolate stars in her mouth without blowing them across the room, talks to herself frequently, and has groomed her sisters bald around the ears... that's how much she loves them. She cannot be trusted to guard your Rice Crispies.

Tell us Maris, how is Gina as a writer and as a pet owner. Don't sugar coat it! Give us the real deal. This blog is only read by pets, so don’t worry, Gina won’t find out what you say. In the event that you find yourself into trouble, I can always offer protection. As yo well know, I have a good connection at the CIA.

I've known mom since I was six weeks old, and she's come on in leaps and bounds with all the training I've given her. She still doesn't clean behind her ears as often as I'd like, but she's quite good at bruxing (that's the teeth-grinding we rats do when we're happy)... although she does it in her sleep, which is a bit unconventional. She loves me more than bananas - she told me so - and only ever gives me the best nibbles. She gives me lots of cuddles and rolls me on my back to tickle my tummy. She laughs at my bald tummy since my fur dropped out there, but I don't mind because she's bald all over (even on her face!) and I laugh about that all the time. I have to have noxious poison (mom calls it 'medicine', pah!) twice a day, and mom always gives me a chocolate star for being a brave girl afterwards.

When she does that writing stuff, she likes it if I run across the keyboard on her laptop and stamp on the space bar. I do this a lot because I like to make her happy. She gets all her best ideas from me, and tells me that when she writes a book about rats she will dedicate it to me (and my sisters, but I am working on getting them smaller text somewhere at the bottom of the page). So far she's written two books (she doesn't work hard enough if you ask me - I could have written eleventy-four by now). One of them is a book about Japanese art, filled with beautiful things (but strangely no pictures of me... must remember to ask why that is). The other one is a funny book about mean neighbours. The silly man in that throws vegetables! Imagine that... using food for throwing. Food is for eating and hiding in slippers, not throwing!

The only thing I don't like about mom's writing is how she has to go outside the den and do talks and signings. When she gets back she cuddles me extra and laughs at my tummy twice as much, but I miss her so much when she's gone that I don't eat my nibbles. I don't know why she has to go out to talk and sign things... hasn't she heard of the telephone and post?

What’s with your name? Did Gina choose it? What has that done to your self esteem and what does that say about her?

I liked my name more before I found out how I got it. Mom and dad were having a think and mom, thinking she is the creative genius around here (I let her go on dreaming), said they should call me Maris and call my sister Piper... Maris Piper... she named us after a type of potato! I think she must have a thing about food because she named my sisters Mince Pie, Pickles, Mung Bean, Mrs Pea, Sprout, and Spud (there's that obsession with potatoes again). It could have been worse though, she named my other sister, Queequeg, after a cannibal! Mom has a whacky sense of humour and is always laughing at things (okay, me), so I guess we couldn't have sensible names like Mavis or Ethel. My self esteem is fine because everyone calls me their little princess... I am royalty you know.

Does your author mom plot like a madwoman or just write ‘down the bones’?

Madwoman... yes my mom is one of them all the time, but she says that when she's writing funny things she has to go with the flow and get all of the ideas out of her head before it explodes. I think that sounds like a good thing... exploding heads are messy. She stays up until four or five in the morning, and comes to talk to me when she gets stuck. I give her the benefit of my wisdom, she eats the left-over pizza that dad was saving for himself for tomorrow, and then goes back to work happy. When she's writing the serious stuff about art, she has to plan things and has lots and lots of notes. Sometimes she lets me chew them, as long as I only nibble the edges and don't pinch the words. Piper pinches the words... and the pictures... and the pens and pencils. She pinches my nibbles too, but I give her a swift kick and she gives them back.

What does your mom do besides writing? Is she a hermit or does she actually set her foot outdoors? My mom has to be dragged outside.

As a rat, outdoors is a dangerous place, and I like it best when mom stays home and give me cuddles. The best bit about having a writer for a mommy is that she stays home a lot. She likes to go to museums, but some of them are far away (at least two miles!), and I hide the door keys so she can't go. She likes to go to France a lot, but that's ok because we all go together. Mostly she likes to be home, reading and painting and tickling my tummy.

Is your mom crazy about book promotion? What does she do to promote her books? Does she ask your advice at times?

She is obsessed with this book promoting. She goes out to sign things (I hang on to her leg, but I'm only a tiny rat... what's a girl to do?). She does these talk things where people spend good money (not the play stuff mom lets me chew) to listen. I've told her, I don't care how much she talks, I'm not paying for it! She has two laptops and uses both at the same time. I have to jump back and forth to hit keys on both... that's my work-out for the day. She asks my advice but doesn't follow it. I told her to rub noses and sniff bottoms more, but she says she'd get arrested. I also told her to give out nibbles, but she gives out bookmarks instead. They don't taste very good at all.

Mom spends a lot of time doing blogging and fiddling with her web site... almost as much time as I spend cleaning my ears. The web site is and there are three blogs:

The last blog is my favourite because mom wrote a blog post about me and put my picture there, and everyone said I was cute and pretty (which I know, but it doesn't hurt to hear it twenty-ten times a day).

I have to admit it, Maris. You're one of the cutest rodents I've ever met! Not at all like those rabbits who have infiltrated my garden and are intent on driving me mad!


  1. Maris is adorable! I used to have two rats, Ben & Socrates. They are very social animals. I'm sure Maris IS lonely when mom goes off on promotions....

    L. Diane Wolfe

  2. Socrates is a great name for a rat! My mom used to have a mouse named like that.


  3. Maris, you are delightful! You have given us wonderful insight about your writer-mom.


  4. Maris, thanks for sharing your mom with us. You are one little cutie. Rascal would probably like to play with you, but she's too big and could squish you.

    Morgan Mandel

  5. You are all very kind. I like words like delightful and adorable and cutie! I like words like 'here, have a doughnut' too... if anyone's interested.

  6. Maris has personality plus, and your questions dragged every bit of it out of her!!

    NMany years ago in Australia, I owned a pet store. I sold tropical fish, birds, and pet mice. I also had two wonderful long-haired white rats. So clever and lovable. My cat,Lady, hated them, because they would stare her down every time she came near them. No contest!

    Margot Finke

    * Rattlesnake Jam + my 7 Book PB Series
    * Watch for IT. . .
    "Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind"
    is . . . . C-O-M-I-N-G!

  7. Oh! She's so cute! I love her little face!

  8. toooooooooooooooo cute
    Kit Grady

  9. I wasn't even going to look at this one thinking I'd be put off by a rat, but who can resist that face? Thanks for a new perspective!

  10. Oh I love it! I came to this one late, but when I looked at the sidebar and saw an interview with a rat I had to read it. :) I love rats and I miss my babies, especially Edgar, every day. Maris is adorable.