Sunday, May 17, 2009

Interview with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Connie Gotsch's dog

About Dame Kiri: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was born in 1994 on the Navajo Nation. She was a stray farm dog that wandered into town where Laura found her and took her home., because no one wanted her. Laura gave her to Connie when Connie fell in love with her. You can find out more about Connie at

Welcome to my blog, Dame
Kiri! Are you ready to start spilling the beans on Connie? Then tell us, are you the boss of her?

Sometimes I’m the boss, especially when I want to go out. I can then stand half in and half out of the house and make her stand there. Or I can bark to come in when she is in the bathroom, or with her hands full of something in the kitchen. If I carry on loud enough, she’ll put down what she’s doing and rescue me. I am also the boss of the bed.

Nice to hear that! Always remember to keep her in her place. So, tell us, what type of books does your human mom write?

She is something called a broadcaster. Once she left this thing on that she calls a radio. Her voice came out of it when she was standing behind me. How do you explain that. Once she turned it on when I was a puppy. It made a sound that fascinaged me. All of a sudden a whole bunch of people started singing kiri aaaaaaaaaayyyyyy. I got confused. Were they calling me? Mom laughed herself silly.

So she’s a broadcaster -- whatever that is, and I think she writes for something called a newspaper once in a while, and she writes novels for adults. She has two published, “A Mouth Full of Shell” and “Snap Me a Future.” They’re on Amazon -- whatever that is -- and something called her web site She gets very annoyed when people ask her if she’s self-published, and assures them that her publisher, DLSIJ Press made her go through an editorial process. Oh yes you can get her books from, too. Her other book is for 8-12 year olds, and it’s called ‘Belle’s Star.” It’s written from a dog’s point of view.

I just checked your mom's books on Amazon and they look pretty cool! I especially like the cover of Belle's Star. Of all her books, which one is your favorite? Why?

Belle’s Star, of course. I was one of the models for it. So was Ben, Connie’s other dog. He went to the Great Meadow two warm seasons ago. He was a Setterdor. Belle is my favorite book because he’s in it and because I’m in it.

I thought so! You're lucky your mom put you in a book. Wo are you in the book?

I’m Belle. Ben is Buster.

Did Connie show your real character or did she exaggerate it for the book's purpose?

She pretty much showed my character. I was abandoned as a puppy and she told all about that. I was more trusting of humans than she made Belle because her friend Gwynne said there needed to be a book for abused and abandoned children that talked about abuse but didn’t do it with people. Gwynne is an art therapist and she says that some kids aren’t ready to read about an abused person but could identify with a hurt anmal. Connie’s other friend, Margaret is a school counselor and she wrote a study guide for Belle’s Star. The book will be available from Artemesia Publishers at in August.

The book is designed to teach kids that they can’t help what happened to them, but they can choose how to respond to that. And guess what? She wrote it so any kid with a problem can read and enjoy it. This really neat artist illustrated it, too. His name is John Cogan.

That is so cool, Dame Kiri! That sounds like a book that can help kids! Are you happy with her portrayal of you?

Pretty much. John came and took pictues of me. I don’t like cameras, so I hid when I could. But I look pretty good in the book. I’m part Red Heeler and maye part Terrier. And one of my grandparents may have been a fox! I was born on the Navajo Naion in New Mexico. As I said I was friendlier than portrayed at the opening of the book, but in the book I learn to be friendly. So if that helps kids deal with their problems, I’m happy.

I don't mean to sound rude (well, maybe I do), but what's with your name?

I’m named for an opera singer, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. She’s sort of a mutt too, half Mauari and half English. I heard her sing once on the radio. Her voice is beautiful.

Did Connie choose it?

Yes, because she said I was sweet and gentle like Ms. Te Kanawa. She talked to Ms. Te Kanawa once for the radio and M. Te Kanawa, who could sing in any opera house in the world upon request said “I hope the Albuqueque audience likes me.” That stopped Connie for a moment, and she’s interviewed lots of people. By the way most people call me Kiri or Kirs. Mom calls me Kirzoletta or Kir-Kir sometimes. And if she ever says “Dame Kiri Te Kanawa” to me, I know I’m in trouble.
My name says about her that she loves opera.

That's a sweet story, but what has that done to your self esteem and what does that say about her?

Well I’ve enjoyed being named after such an elegant person and have tried to be elegant in everything I do. I think it worked because my mom never says I’m a mutt. She says I’m a Chien Mixte. Chien means dog in French and Mixte means mixed. She says it to me especially when I am sitting looking sweet at dinner time.

What do you do for amusement while Connie pounds at the computer all day and ignores you?

Sometimes I sleep. Sometimes I come nuzzle her or climb into her lap. Sometimes I play let me out, let me in, let me out, let me in, so she has to stop.

Tell me the truth… is Connie as disciplined as she said she was in her last interview?

She’s always writing something. Not always a novel but an article, a sketch for a book, an outline, a radio documentary, so she’s pretty disciplined.

What is it about authors and their delusions of greatness?

I think most authors just enjoy writing. My mom speaks 2 languages, German and English, and she can get by in French. People are so silly. They have all these languages, but we all speak dog all around the world.

Does Connie plot like a madwoman or just write 'down the bones'?

I think she does.

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.

Oh, she goes out. She’s also a natural light photographer.

Give us the lowdown. What happens when Connie Gotsch gets a bad review? I know it's impossible to restrain her, since you're a dog but what do you to comfort her?

Nothing happens. She laughs. The worst review she ever got was when the reviewer read three chapters of her book, didn’t like it, and reviewed on that much. She thought that person was a jerk, but she reviews for and has given a few bad reviews herself, so she laughs them off. She’s actually more guarded when she’s developing a book and takes it for critique. She’s careful to make sure the criticism helps her go in the direction she wants to go, and not someplace else. Some critics like to replot and recharacter, and she doesn’t let that happen.

Does Connie snack continually as she writes?

No, she isn’t a snacker. And that’s horrible because I can’t sneak anything. Once Ben hit a glass with his tail and drowned her computer keyboard. So now she won’t drink anything near her computer.

Does your human mom let you sit on her lap while working at the computer?

Yup, all the time.

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

She finds what works for her and uses it. She hand sells her books a lot, which means she goes away, but maybe when she sells Belle’s Star I’ll get to go along.

What advice would you give to those pets that have to live with irrational, insufferable, egotistical authors?

Leave. Find a nice one. Most of them are nice. Connie’s author friends are. They help her and she helps them.

What is the best part of having an author as a mom?

She’s happy when she writes. What more could a pet want?

The worse part?

She ignores me.

Will you be boasting to your other pet friends about this interview?

I don’t know if I’ll boast. I’m tickled that you’re asking me.

Well, thanks for stopping by, Kiri!


  1. Don't give Rascal ideas. She's not allowed on couches or beds. I plan on putting her in a book also,after my current one, Killer Career, comes out.

    Nothing like making our pets famous. She already gets more attention than I do, because people recognize her from YouTube and call her the YouTube dog, when they're not calling her Petey from Little Rascals, or the Patton dog or the Target dog.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Hello there. Just a quick note to say that I have highlighted this blog in an e-booklet I have produced to accompany an interview I will be doing on BBC Radio Stoke (North Midlands of UK) on Sunday 24 May 2009. The subject will be internet publishing and blogging.

    To see the e-booklet, please go to;

    If you have the inclination to listen to the interview on line please go to

    best wishes


  3. Mmmm. my last post didn't take. So I'm trying again. This is such a delightful blog post that I will be passing it on to a couple of the students I tutored. I also followed you on Twitter, Mayra. Can't believe I hadn't done so before!

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Blogging at Writer's Digest 101 Best Website pick,