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I Have an African Lion Hunter for a Writing Partner

The writer's life can be lonely some times. When you think about it, we sit in front of our computers all day, only talking to ourselves and whoever will listen to us in cyberspace. There are no water cooler conversations, no chit chat over lunch, nothing like that. Writers tend to be loners, but that doesn't mean we don't get a tad lonely even though we have numerous characters talking to us in our head. That is a combination for insanity when you think about it—isolation plus talking to people who aren't really real people. No wonder we write alone. The mental institutions would be stock full of writers if we worked with others.

I am a really lucky writer in that I have a writing partner. His name is Java and he is our family Rhodesian Ridgeback. Java is four-years-old and he is truly one of the laziest animals on the face of this Earth. Ridgebacks were bred to be African Lion Hunters. My African lion hunter is afraid of our house cat, but he makes one heck of a writing partner.  

Everyday I sit down at our breakfast nook, open up the laptop and after about an hour of work, Java makes his way into the kitchen. He sleeps in after the rest of us. He stands at my side looking up at me with his big brown eyes, until I give in and invite him up on the little banquette. He lays his head in my lap and I write away. I ask him questions about the plot and the characters and he never disagrees with me. I have gone so far as to actually give Java a voice. For example, I may read a scene out loud. I'll look down at my 115 pound dog and ask, "Well what did you think?" Then in my Java voice, I answer for him, "Well, Mom, I think that was really good, now can I have a treat?" I know it's silly but it keeps me entertained and I believe that he really does understand what I am saying. Or maybe I am certifiably insane.

In my children's book, "Zamora's Ultimate Challenge," the Clover brothers Mason and Carter have a dog named Java. Ironically, I wrote Zamora five years before we ever got our Java. I guess I liked the name. The boys' dog in the story does not play a big part in the book, but there is also another dog scene in the book. In this scene the brothers are facing down the evil Lava monster inside his volcano, which is ready to blow. The boys have to find The Crystal of Freeze to be able to save the land and inhabitants below, and move on to the next level in the game. Enjoy the excerpt:

Mason turned to see Carter wrapped tightly in the arm of a grotesque dark red faced monster, with oozing sores covering its body. The monster hovered over Carter. Mason knew he was staring into the vacant eyes of the lava monster himself.
“I’ll throw him into the pit.” The lava monster motioned to the sea of lava.
Mason did not see a way out of this one at all, but there was always a way. There had to be. “What do you want?” Mason asked.
The monster laughed. “To be left alone!”
“We can do that,” Mason said, his voice shaking.
The lava monster laughed harder. Mason could see Carter’s face shrouded in the fear he felt. “I know why you’ve come here. You’ve come to freeze me. I can’t let that happen.”
Mason didn’t know how to reply to that because that was the truth. He was pretty sure the lava dude would see right through any lie he told. A challenge. That was it. He had to make a bet with the monster. Think about the game. He had it. “If I can swim through the lava and rescue my brother, then you must let us go.”
“You want to swim through the sea of lava? How foolish are you? You will die and I will toss your brother in with you.”
“If you are so sure, then let me do it.”
“No, Mason! You can’t. Remember what is in the sea of lava. You will be burned.”
Mason ignored Carter. “Are we on?”
The lava monster laughed and shrugged.
Mason reached for the wand while the lava monster laughed at him. “That won’t save you. Foolish boys.”
With that comment, Mason waved the wand around his body and hoped he said the right mantra to cloak himself in a shield the lava could not penetrate. “For those who believe, all is possible. Not evil or anger or hate will break through. Believe in myself, believe in my brother, and believe I have a light from within.” He said it shakily at first and then stronger a second time, by the third time, he said it aloud with conviction. All the while the lava monster shrieked with laughter and Carter cried out for him to stop. “Get ready Carter!” he yelled and then dove into the sea of lava.
It didn’t burn, it didn’t penetrate his shield, but what surrounded him in that red sea almost stopped him from going forward, but he pushed and he swam, and as each distraction tried to stop him, he reminded himself that all around him was only illusion. For everywhere Mason looked were visions of the worst nightmares he’d ever had. Mason’s nightmares were always of wild dogs chasing him, hunting him down. They swam around him in the lava, biting at his heels, his sides but unable to penetrate the shield as long as he kept swimming forward.

You'll have to check out the book to find out if Mason makes it through the lava and rescues Carter and locates The Crystal of Freeze.


M.K. Scott
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