Who is in the photo at right?
Stella Cameron here and I’m happy to “meet” you. The Alex Duggins Cotswold Mysteries are my ongoing project and passion. Out Comes The Evil, my current release, is the second book in the series after Folly, to be followed by Melody of Murder in June, 2015. The glamorous black-and-white person in the photo is my thirteen-year-old Papillon, Mellisande, Millie to her friends. Millie is my constant companion who would probably tell you that without her, I would never finish anything. We spend a great deal of time, often in wind and rain, sitting on a moldy park bench discussing plot dilemmas.
The fourth Alex Duggins book, Lies That Bind, is the book that consumes us both currently. I’ve published in several genres but mysteries always draw me back. Born and raised in the UK, Cotswold settings (Alex Duggins stomping grounds) are a comfortable milieu.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
This morning we walked in the park by the marina. Millie hates this but Doc. Mike says she has to lose weight. She thinks her lovely, delicate legs were never intended to actually walk but I’m not about to be seen carrying a little dog. When we left the marina I took Millie to Café Lladro where we sat outside while I drank my ‘tall, skinny, latte with only a single shot.” Millie turns up her nose at this which may mean she thinks I’m a wuss and not to handle double shots like most people. We do quite nicely at Lladro—usually—but this morning Millie fidgeted around on my lap, sending glares at sweet old Daisy, a black dog of questionable ancestry. Everyone loves Daisy who is so friendly and gets lots of pats and kind words. Attention to any other dog infuriates Millie who eventually growls so persistently that we have to leave. The shame of it!
Lladro Diablo. Tastes of tobacco leaf, brown sugar and dark chocolate. Dark roast. The Lladro man thinks it’s a waste to put milk in this but, as I’ve already said, I’m a wuss. I take milk in everything. And forget any notion that I’m a coffee connoisseur. I can’t tell one variety from another—I read the details given above on a package.
Any treats for you or Millie and Zipper and Jack on this occasion?
I’m glad Millie isn’t reading this. If she knew Zipper and Jack, mere cats, had been mentioned she would be most unhappy. Anyway, no treats for them. Millie got two home-made peanut butter treats I took in my pocket and I had a luscious almond croissant—which is not on my diet.
How were you and Millie united?
It’s a touching story. At a book-signing I took a sleepy Papillon on my lap where she instantly curled up and slept for more than an hour. In other words, I was suckered into longing for my own dear, soft, pretty dog who would only wanted to be with me. That dog was Belle, Millie’s mother.
How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?
Millie, or Mellisande as I call her when I am not pleased, looks like her name. Just as characters come to me complete with names, Millie came with hers. Black cat Zipper, a rescue, raced through our house from the moment her feet got inside the front door. Orange tabby Jack had lost an eye as a tiny kitten so one-eyed jack he was and is.
Does Millie do more to help or hinder your writing?
Millie makes me happy. I’m relaxed when I’m happy and my work flows more easily. Breaks spent with her on my lap are never a waste of time.
Has Millie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?
Yes, although she invariably comes to me in disguise. Currently she is a mixed-breed terrier.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Oh, dear. Few are safe around “Millie’s house.” Only the UPS people are saved from the ferocious barks and growls of my fearsome 7lb beast. The boys and girls in brown carry milk bones—they are wonderful.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Millie does not chew, other than food, and neither does she chase. She doesn’t know what sticks are supposed to be for.
How would you describe Millie's relationship with Zipper and Jack?
Barely restrained hostility. If she doesn’t acknowledge them, perhaps they don’t exist.
What is Millie's best quality?
With me, Millie is gentle and loving, a dear friend who only wants affection—and as many treats as she can wheedle.
If Millie could change one thing about you, what would it be?
She deeply, sincerely wishes I didn’t like cats.
If Millie could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?
“Who is the most beautiful dog of all?”
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Millie and Zipper and Jack could speak, who should voice them?
Millie would be voiced by Helen Mirren. Zipper must be voiced by Sandra Bullock and for Jack, it’s Johnny Depp without a doubt.
What advice would Millie give if asked?
Visit Stella Cameron's website and Facebook page.