Now, I am just incredibly thrilled to have been able to interview the wonderfully fantastically incredibly talented author A.S. King, who has written the fabulously unforgettable The Dust of 100 Dogs. As you can tell, I am a huge fan, of both King and her novel.
And I am beyond excited to present to you this interview with not only an amazing author, but also one of her characters, Emer Morrisey, heroine from The Dust of 100 Dogs. Enjoy!
AMY & EMER: Thanks for having us, Book Muncher!
THE BOOK MUNCHER: How do pirates + dogs + reincarnation = The Dust of 100 Dogs? In other words, where did the idea originate from?
AMY: I’m pretty sure the idea came from my first explorations of Irish history. I used to walk my dogs down my small road [in
TBM: Why dogs? Why not cats, for example?
AMY: I have nothing against cats. Cats are awesome. I mean – in case anyone wonders. But, the dogs must have come from the fact that these ideas were percolating as I walked along the road with my dogs. Also, since the dog facts in the book are set out as a sort of dog training guide, well, cats just wouldn’t go there. Try to train a cat. I dare you.
TBM: What other works, if any (books, movies, etc.) did you draw inspiration from for The Dust of 100 Dogs? What was the research like?
AMY: I think to understand my research process you have to understand that I am [happily] removed from popular culture. I don’t really watch TV and I don’t know what movies are playing, or what songs are hits. I know zero about the entertainment world and only discovered who Paris Hilton was about a year ago. But in relation to D100D, which was written in 2001/2002, I was ten times more removed. I barely had the internet at that point, and the only local place to rent a movie was the size of a bedroom, had a very basic selection and smelled like old vegetables. So, keeping that in mind, most of my research revolved around local history – to get a feel of what life was like right where I lived in the 17th century. I read a lot about Cromwell (his letters, especially) and a ton of weird non-fiction pirate and US history books. The only fiction I read was
TBM: Which of your characters can you relate to the most?
AMY: I guess I relate in ways to Saffron. Though my life was totally different to hers and my parents are complete winners, it often seemed like everyone else in my world was concerned with stuff I didn’t care about.
EMER: You don’t relate to me?
AMY: Are you kidding? I’m a total pacifist and I’ve lived a lucky life, with no major slavery or piracy incidents. Maybe I can relate to the simple farm tasks you preformed as a child before Cromwell came, but after that, no way.
EMER: What about true love and soul mates?
AMY: (nodding) Yes. True love and soul mates. I can relate to that, too.
EMER: I reckoned.
TBM: Much of the pirating world has been romanticized. Why did you choose to include much of the physical danger as well as pirate romance?
AMY: Pirates did nasty things. They could also be loyal friends and witty storytellers. I think like all humans, pirates had circumstances that put them in that spot of being a pirate. So, they are just people, too. But they are people who do nasty things. Anyone who overlooks that for the romance is probably just trying to have fun. I’ve come by people who want all Disney-induced romancing of piracy to stop – as if this is immoral –to make pirates likable. I’m not like that at all. I’m already used to Disney stuffing all girls and women into waist-tight, busty dresses and high heeled slippers, so I’m long past holding Disney accountable for their misconceptions of reality. That’s their job! It’s Disney! Of course piracy is awful. But that doesn’t mean all pirates – then and now – don’t have the capacity to be good people. They might. I can’t judge.
EMER: Disney burns my hide.
TBM: What is the transition from being a human in the "olden days" to
being a dog one hundred times back to being a present day human like?
EMER: Drudgery. Better to ask Saffron that one, though. She’d know more about the whole 300-year-long experience. Technically, I died in 1664.
TBM: What's the most exciting aspect about the pirating life?
EMER: I think freedom is the most exciting feeling in the world, and nothing is quite as free as being a pirate captain, in your own ship, on your own sea, fearless. In day to day life, I suppose the battles are most exciting. When you approach a ship, you never know how they’re going to react. Some fight a little, to see how determined you are. Some fight to the death, which is always exciting. I think the least exciting are ships who surrender.
TBM: What advice would you recommend to someone encountering a pirate?
EMER: The same advice I’d give to people encountering any crime. Give whatever you have to give to stay alive. In the moment, your forty dollars and credit cards may seem like something you’re willing to fight for, but once you’re dead, they won’t matter anymore anyway. Material possessions are worth nothing. And I should know.
TBM: What advice would you offer to someone who is a reincarnation of a pirate?
AMY: I’m not sure I have any. I think Emer’s situation was brought about more by voodoo and a curse than plain old reincarnation.
TBM: Hypothetically, if Emer's true love, Seanie, turned into a dog, and Emer dog found him, could they recognize that the other was the one they loved?
AMY: There is no right answer to this question. I believe anything unproven is possible. Discuss.
EMER: Hypothetically, do you think I care?
AMY: Don’t be rude, Emer.
EMER: I’m speaking my mind. You modern people think about the craziest things.
AMY: Ignore her, Book Muncher. She’s got issues.
TBM: I know that Emer was cursed with the dust of 100 dogs, forced to live that many canine lifetimes, but the magic powder also landed on Seanie. Did he also endure so many dog lives?
AMY: There is also no right answer to this question. I urge readers to make up their own minds.
EMER: (Mumbling) True love spans time.
TBM: Emer is a bit of a reckless and free spirit, yet at the same time, she's a pretty simple girl—she just wants to be with her true love Seanie. However, along the way, she commits some pretty horrid atrocities. Does she still deserve to be happy, and were her actions justified?
AMY: I am not a judger of people. I cannot say who deserves what. But I feel all human beings deserve to be happy. I think as a people, if we spent more time trying to teach people how to be happy, rather teaching them to covet material things, we’d be better off. But no one listens to me.
EMER: No one listens to you because you’re talking too quiet, woman. OF COURSE she deserves to be happy! Who is anyone to say what another person deserves? But Emer never got to be happy did she?
(realizes she’s talking about herself in the third person, and snaps out of it.)
And were my actions justified? Yes. They were. For me, then. Once you live my life, then you can come back and judge me. Before then, you just keep your shiny white 21st century teeth cocked in a smile, and I’ll let you live.
AMY: Emer, threatening the interviewer is not recommended.
EMER: Arrrr. I’ll do what I please.
TBM: Is there anything about The Dust of 100 Dogs that you'd like to change, or something else you wish you'd included?
AMY: (still glaring at Emer) No.
TBM: I'm sure most of those who have already read The Dust of 100 Dogs are dying to know the story after the ending. Do you plan on writing a sequel or companion novel? Why or why not?
AMY: At the moment I have no plans for a sequel or a companion novel. I’ve been too busy writing other novels since I wrote D100D. (Remember, this novel was ‘put away’ in late 2003, due to no agent wanting to represent it, so I’ve written three or four others since then.)
EMER: Agents said no to this book?
AMY: Uh – yeah. Like 100 of them on two continents.
EMER: Lily-livered fools!
AMY: I know, right?
TBM: Lastly, what in the world are you working on next? Hints and clues are very welcome!
AMY: I’ve just finished another YA novel, IGNORE VERA DIETZ. Now, I am about to jump back into a really cool novel I started last summer that I am in love with. I can’t tell you about the plot so much, but I can tell you that like D100D, it has a bit of history and a bit of contemporary and a bit of magic realism. I am also working on the beginnings of the next YA after that, because the opening came to me last month, and I can’t stop thinking about it.