February 3, 2013

Author Q & A: Good Dog

By TOM ATWELL, Special to the Maine Sunday Telegram

(Continued from page 1)

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click image to enlarge

Eleanor Morse

Rhonda Berg photo


ELEANOR MORSE will speak at2 p.m. March 24 at a meeting of the Maine Women Writers Collection, Abplanalp Library, University of New England,716 Stevens Ave., Portland.

FOR MORE information and events, visit eleanormorse.com.

When I lived there, we had discussions, and no one foresaw change without the most hellishly awful bloodshed. There has been bloodshed, but not the awful bloodshed that we thought there would be.
And AIDS has been an awful problem, and there certainly has been a difference in the way the countries responded. There was quite a long period of denial in South Africa, while Botswana had some early and effective programs that helped slow the spread of the disease. Still, one of four adults in South Africa since 2006 have had AIDS.

Q: White Dog seems to create a cohesiveness in the book, a being that links Isaac and Alice when they are on their separate travels. I think there is some symbolism there, but I can’t put words to it. Can you explain?

A: I did not mean White Dog to be anything other than what she is. But like many dogs, she is loyal and beyond what any human can be, and will stand for anything. She is based on a dog I met in India named Blondie, and I fell in love with her. She had a master who was busy with his own life and got a lot more from Blondie than he gave, but he was her person, and she always remained hopeful and positive.

I didn’t set out to make her a symbol, but she did have her own personality, and maybe she became one.

Q: In this book I see a little bit historical/period novel, a little bit adventure, a little bit romance. Can you put a genre on it?

A: I couldn’t label it. It comes under the umbrella of literary fiction. I just wanted to write a book that mattered. I wanted to capture a period of history that was a difficult period, and to have characters who had lives that mattered to people.

Q: How did you end up in Maine?

A: I met the person who became my husband when I was at Swarthmore and he was in Philadelphia. He was from Botswana, and we went to Botswana and worked there for four years. He was the social minister in the Department of Agriculture.

He went to Bowdoin, and when we came back to the States we did not want to live in the city, so a friend of his from Bowdoin put us up for a while in Bowdoinham. We worked at an adult learning center in Orland, and then came to Portland, where I worked in training and organizational development for 10 years at Maine Medical Center before going out on my own in business.

Q: Do you have anything in the works now?

A: I’ve got a lot of ideas, but I’m not actively working on anything. I can’t do all this, of getting this book out, at the same time I am writing. But when the hoopla fades, I will write something else.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth.  He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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