From Printz Honoree A.S. King. . . A Spring 2009 Children’s Indie Next List Pick for Teens!In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with “the dust of one hundred dogs,” dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.
Now she’s a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.
Saffron and I are two completely different people. I lived in the 17th century, had my own parents and a brother and my own sorry life. Saffron was born in the 20th century and has her own parents, her own siblings and her own sorry life. It’s a lot easier than my life was, but people in the 20th century don’t understand how hard things used to be, so they complain anyway. Frankly, it’s annoying.
What was your favorite dog life? What kind of dog were you and what was your life like?
I know this gets confusing for ye normal people, but since I’m Emer, I can’t answer dog life questions because they happened after I died. Let me call Saffron in on that. Saffron on deck! Anish!
My favorite dog life was when I was a beach dog in California in the 1960s. I swam a lot and was pampered. It was wonderful. Also, it was my second-to-last dog life. I was a Labrador mix and I loved playing fetch with my surfer hippie masters.
Now that you’ve had so many lives since your first one do you still feel just as hard, as angry, as you did in your first life? Or do you feel yourself softening up?
I’ll let Saffron answer this one too. But let me just say—you’d have been angry and hard too, had you lived my life. You modern people are all blubber.
Emer, be nice, please. (Looks at Candace) Sorry. She’s ornery.
Ornery! I’m not ornery. I’m bloody sick of this brain-eating!
You know, Emer, sometimes it’s okay to look inside and ask yourself questions. I know you were born in different times, but these days, this kind of thing is totally good for you.
Ach! Spare me. I’d rather drink rum and slice off ears. Your spoiled little 20th century ears, maybe? So you don’t have to hear your own whining? Oh poor me! My mother and father are losers! My brother is trouble! I have to get a job! Ach!
(Holds head in hands) Oh man. Did I make this person? Really?
Look Emer, who can win with you? Seriously. You’ve done everything and lived though hell. None of us can win. Okay? Just get over it already. (Looks at Candace) Emer had a really hard time and died before she turned twenty. She didn’t have a lot of time to sort out her baggage. But I’ve had three centuries to sort out her baggage and I’m a lot mellower. Very soft. Which was why getting to Jamaica and meeting that creep was difficult for me. Emer would have gone when she was nine, I bet. And she’d have killed the creep the minute she saw him.
You bet your spoiled little ears I would have killed him. I’d have buried him in that hole, too.
Saffron, at the end of Dust (Spoiler Alert!) you see a boy waving the Seanie wave. We knew that you were getting off the plane, what happened after that?!
Hey! I think I have that in my notes…(scurries to her filing cabinet) Oh! Here it is! Do you want to read the next scene?
Ummm… YEAH! But warning to those that haven’t read Dust of 100 Dogs yet, this is spoilery! So go read the book, then come back!
The big final scene reveal!
I’d seen him last in the airport by the window, but he wasn’t there. So I went outside to find him, but he wasn’t there either. (Frankly, I figured I was hallucinating from lack of sleep, too much adrenaline, and a heap of wishful thinking.) I stared at the hot concrete. Then, I looked at my feet. My legs. My hands. My arms. I saw my reflection in the automatic airport door. Who the hell was I? And where the hell was I going? Where was my safe place now?It was 1990. I was Saffron Adams. I had my whole life ahead of me. Emer was still there, mourning her lost treasure and a man she’d never see again, and a hundred dogs roamed the corners of my brain, but it was time to move forward. Time to figure out what to do with my human life. Time to be free.I picked up my bag and headed back to the main lobby. I plopped myself down on a white plastic chair and stared at the flickering departures board. Philadelphia, Charleston, Miami, Houston, London, Mexico City, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Paris, Barcelona, Washington.I didn’t hear him approach me.“You look lost.”His eyes were green-hazel. They were safe.“I think I am,” I said.He reached down for my hand. “Do you want to be lost together?”I nodded. Then, we threw an invisible dart at the departures board, watched it land, and bought our tickets. Tickets to our past. Tickets to our future.
SQUEE! What a relief! Not knowing what happened, FOR SURE, was killing me! She needed a happy ending.
*SPOILER* Those jewels you had sewn into your cape, what were they worth? Are you a rich woman now?
And that’s another thing! I did all that preparing and she gets the benefit! She gets the jewels and the money and what did I get? Sweet nothing! That’s what!
It was you who got us in this freaking mess in the first place. Without your stupid pirate life and your stupid enemies and your stupid curse, I’d have been normal!
And how do you think that would have fared? Eh? Still stuck in some little town with your little life and your little chances of anything?
Hey! I’m happy for my life. I love that I know you and that I did what I did. But I’m sick of it turning into some competition all the time. We’ve been interviewed a bunch of times and every time, you’re mocking me and Amy as if we don’t anything about life.
Not my life, you don’t.
Look, I’ve been holding back for several interviews on this, Emer. But I’m going to pull the I made your ass card. I made your ass. So I know about what Cromwell did to your family and your country. And I know about what happened to you when you were sold as a slave. So how about you lighten up on me and Saffron when we do these interviews?
You don’t scare me.
She scares me.
Don’t tempt me! I’ll sliver your insides!
Not if I chop off your arms, first. I can do that, you know. I’m a writer. I get to control what you do and what happens to you. So, you can’t do squat without me, Emer.
While you’re all patting each other on yer backs, I’ll be over here waiting to do something interesting. (Swigs rum.)
The capes were worth as much as or more than the jewels, actually. It didn’t make me filthy rich, but I get by. We get by.
Thanks for coming on Emer and Saffron, I hope people will be more eager to read about you now that they know you better!
Arrr! Verily! Thanks for having me. Next time, try to be less boring, okay?
Oh God. Sorry, Candace. You are not boring.
See why it took 326 years to come back as a decent human being?
A.S. King (you can call her Amy) has recently returned from Ireland, where she spent a decade dividing herself between self-sufficiency, teaching adult literacy, and writing novels. She has also been a rare poultry breeder, photographer, master printer, contractor, life skills and juggling teacher, summer camp counselor, pizza delivery driver and, for a week or two, a complete loser who did nothing at all.
Her first published work was an article about patios and several poems that a lot of people didn’t understand. Her short fiction for adults has been widely published and was nominated for Best New American Voices 2010. Her most recent YA novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, an Edgar Award Nominee, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book for Teens 2010, and is a Junior Library Guild selection and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick. Her first YA novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an Indie Next pick and a Cybil award finalist. Next up: Everybody Sees the Ants from Little, Brown in 2011.
I’m giving away my copy of the book to one person.
US/Canadian address only
Must be 13 or older to enter
Ends July 5th, 2011
Answer question: If you were cursed to be a dog what breed would you choose? Remember to leave contact info!