Dog or cat, tea or coffee?
These questions are lifted from author Sahar Sabati's informative Ask an Author series, which ran from 2015-2016 and included responses and reflections from English-speaking authors from around the globe. Since I'm often asked these questions by readers, I have republished my answers here with Sahar's kind permission.
Dog or cat: This is a trick question, isn’t it? If I say cat, then I must be intelligent and independent, but highly strung and neurotic, right? And if I say dog, then I must be sociable and confident, but also completely gullible. There is no right answer.
In fact, while I have owned dogs and been owned by cats, my current companion is a nine-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Maxi, who sits under my desk as I write. Sometimes I read aloud to her, and she gives me this look as if to say, ‘Really? You wrote that?” Spaniels are extremely tough critics. [*Sadly, our wee girl passed away in August 2017 after an unexpected stroke. We miss her terribly].
Tea or coffee: With a family ties to both England and China, I like a cup of tea. Accordingly, English Breakfast and Chinese Green Tea are my favourite blends. However, it’s a fact universally acknowledged that writers convert coffee into stories via a process somewhat like photosynthesis, so it follows that as a writer I must also drink coffee. Plus, I’m from New Zealand, the 13th highest consumer of coffee, higher even than the USA and Australia, and to maintain those stats every Kiwi has to do their bit. Only, in my case, not after midday, and not after a marathon. Coffee after a marathon and after midday once kept me awake all night and throughout the next day. It wasn’t pretty!