Back in the summer, I discovered a lovely children’s book, called The Old Fortress Dog, set in the old Venetian Fortress of Corfu Town. Its author, Ruth Zavitsanos, is an American with Greek roots, her grandfather having hailed from the Greek island of Corfu. I found the book utterly refreshing as its touching story was written from the dog’s perspective – how cute is that? (find my 4-star review here). Today, I’m pleased to present to you Ruth Zavitsanos, as well as her awarded book, The Villa Dog; another delightful tale told by an adorable canine! While I’m at it, I’m adding here the details of The Fortress Dog too because you know me; Corfiot to the core! I’d never pass on a chance to showcase the delights of a Corfiot setting!
High atop a hillside on the Greek island of Corfu overlooking the Ionian sea sits the Old Fortress, an ancient ruin built to keep out invaders. Leonidas, a highly protective and dedicated dog, guides tourists through the graveled pathways with a keen alertness for their safety. Like the Greek soldier he is named for, Leonidas thinks of others as he guards them from danger.
Leonidas’ bravery and loyalty have earned him the reputation of being The Old Fortress Dog. Much like a sentry, he takes his job as protector of the Old Fortress and all who enter with wholehearted devotion. He is kind and giving in his efforts to please. When his master’s grandson, Nikos, comes from America to visit, Leo senses the boy’s sadness. Determined to bring a smile to the boy’s face and laughter to his voice, Leo doesn’t leave his side, even though once, it meant disobeying his master.
Being the Old Fortress Dog can be perilous at times, but Leonidas is alert and strong for the task. With Leo by his side, Nikos soon discovers his connection to the Old Fortress. Like a good soldier, Leonidas perseveres in his quest…to hear the boy’s laughter.
Will Leonidas discover why Nikos is sad. Can he use his instincts and kind heart to gain Nikos’ trust and understanding?
EPIC eBook Award 2011 Finalist
Nestled away amongst the olive groves of the Tuscan hillside stands a welcoming villa where a dedicated dog finds his way into the hearts of vacationing families. Sole has one purpose, to make visitors happy. He is kind and sensitive. Sole takes his job as THE VILLA DOG seriously. His bravery and loyalty are often rewarded. He keeps the children out of harm’s way, and eventually the others become aware of his special ability to bring happiness. But it’s not always easy being The Villa Dog. A young girl, Issy, makes it tough. She’s so sad. Can Sole find out why? Or, will he fail his purpose for staying at the villa and disappoint his master? Being the Villa Dog can be hard work, but he’s on a mission, and he’ll stop at nothing to see Issy smile.
Hello Ruth and welcome!
Thank you Fros, I’m delighted to be on your blog!
What has inspired you to write The Villa Dog?
My first children’s chapter book, THE VILLA DOG was inspired during our family vacation to Tuscany. We stayed in a charming Villa just outside of the centuries old walled city of Lucca, Italy. I had always wanted to be a published author but never intended on writing children’s books. However, we met this dog that trotted down from the neighboring farmhouse, and I knew he was very special. The story is about a dog who greets the guests staying at the villa and opens their hearts through his highly sensitive intuition. It’s a heartwarming story told through the dog’s point of view.
Sounds lovely, Ruth! What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?
The first thing I wrote that I shared with an audience, a classroom of my fellow students in high school, was an essay about my record collection. My teacher liked it so much she deemed it the only one to be read aloud. When my classmates laughed at the humorous parts and applauded at the end I was overjoyed and knew I wanted to be a writer.
What other writing have you done?
I’ve written a total of three chapters books, two historical romances, one sensuous novella and am currently working on a women’s fiction. All of these are published by small presses. I also wrote an in depth article for a regional magazine in Delaware, USA.
Wow, you’ve been busy! And I’m astounded by the diversity of genres. Well done. Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?
I enjoy photography, walking my canine kids, reading and travel.
What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).
I’m currently working on a women’s fiction tentatively entitled LOOK THE OTHER WAY. It’s about a group of three couples and the crumbling marriages at this stage in their lives. There’s no happy ending for all of them, and on one occasion, the reader gets to decide if the marriage should be saved. I’m also writing my Memoir entitled COME TO CORFU about my 12 visits over the past thirty years. I pitch it as a MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING with a SLICE OF MOONSTRUCK meeting EAT PRAY LOVE.
Well, being a passionate Corfiot, you got me hooked already on that one! Which are your favorite authors, and what do you love about them?
I enjoy Dorothea Benton Frank, Lisa Scottoline and several new ones I’ve come across. Mostly, I have to like the writing style, find the plot moving forward at a good pace and a Happy Ending that is truly satisfying.
What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?
I read memoirs, romance, suspense, and women’s fiction. I’m currently reading 7 Letters from Paris – a memoir/true romance.
Do you have any advice for other indie authors?
Keep working at your craft. Have others read your work so that you don’t sell yourself short. Get those reviews rolling in.
Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor/actress you’d wish to play them in a film adaptation.
For COME TO CORFU, I think Marisa Tomeii would be great playing me. For the Greek lead, I choose John Stamos.
Oh he’s cute, and Marisa Tomeii is incredibly sweet. Great choices! Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?
My website, http://www.ruthzonline.com , is about my books, my dogs, and travel. Visitors can also access my blog from there.
That makes two of us, Fros! Thank you so much for the invitation.
Ruth G. Zavitsanos began writing at the age of 12. Growing up outside of New York City, she attended many Broadway plays and musicals that served to stimulate her imagination. While attaining her Journalism degree at Marshall University she received numerous writing awards. She has been published in Writer’s Digest magazine and had an in-depth article in Delaware Beach Life magazine. Ruth is a member of PennWriters, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Valley Forge Romance Writers Group and Romance Writers of America. Her first novel, Flight of Little Dove, a historical romance, received five star reviews and is a book club selection for several independent bookstores. Recently, her second historical women’s fiction, Sisters Inn, was released with high acclaim. She also has a novella, Safe Encounter, available in both Ebook and audiobook formats.
Ruth’s children’s books, The Villa Dog (an Epic Award and a Main Line Today staff pick), The Old Fortress Dog and The Kona Dog (all third grade book club reads), have been embraced by children, parents and the educational community.
Ruth enjoys Pilates, Zumba, cooking, reading, music, photography, snorkeling, bicycle riding, walks with her canine kids, and travel. Sharing her joy of writing with young students and encouraging them to put their imaginative stories on paper gives Ruth great satisfaction. She and her family reside outside of Philadelphia, PA in Chester County.
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