Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kelli Stanley & Bertie

Who is in the photo at right?

Well, I’m Kelli Stanley, San Francisco-based author of City of Dragons, Nox Dormienda, and upcoming sequels to both series, along with a few short stories. The handsome spotted Springer Spaniel with big red eyes is Bertie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Bertie goes everywhere with us—he’s a great road dog. And his favorite places to go are drive through coffee huts. There are quite a few of these in Northern California, where my parents live, so I thought I’d share some pictures of Bertie’s favorite coffee activity—apparently all the coffee drive-throughs in Humboldt County provide dog treats.

Unfortunately, Bertie develops habits very easily, and he’s taken to demanding treats at any kiosk that looks (to him) like a drive-through coffee hut. This makes crossing the Golden Gate Bridge a little embarrassing.

What's brewing?

Humboldt County coffee is uniformly delicious. I normally drink a latte—double shot if I’m tired—and during the holidays, an eggnog latte, since the coffee places up there make it with real eggnog from Humboldt Creamery. One of my favorite coffees is called Konaboldt—beans grown in Kona, dried in Humboldt. Bertie likes mocha, so we can’t leave old coffee cups in the car.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Only for Bertie! But I’ve eaten lunch at the Gettiup in Garberville, and can unhesitatingly recommend their fries and veggie burger.

Any treat for Bertie on this occasion?

He loved getting pictures shot for Coffee with a Canine, because we needed multiple takes with multiple treats! I only wish these favorite coffee places—the Jitterbean in Fortuna, CA and the Gettiup—were closer to home.

How were you and Bertie united?

We lost our first Springer Spaniel to cancer a few years before Bertie came into our lives. I was visiting my mom and dad for my birthday, and mom—who volunteers at a hospital—saw an ad in the hospital newsletter about a family needing to giveaway a one-year old Springer Spaniel. Mom told us about it, we met him, and that was that. He’s my best birthday present. So when we take him up to Humboldt, he’s really coming home!

How did Bertie get his name? Does he have any aliases?

My mom named him—Bertie is short for Prince Albert. Sometimes we sing “I’m Burlingon Bertie, I rise at ten-thirty ..”—it’s an English music hall number. Yes, we’re goofy for him.

Does Bertie have any influence on your writing?

He helps me think through things. When I’m stuck on a page, he’s always ready for a good game of ball.

Where is Bertie's favorite place to go for an outing?

Any place with grass. Any surface, really—he likes the beach, too. As long as he can run and retrieve a ball, which next to eating is his favorite activity.

Who is his best pet pal?

Petula, our cat. She curls up next to him and he rests his big head on her. She seems to like it.

Tennis ball, stick, frisbee...?

Most definitely ball. He’ll chase anything, but prefers something spherical. He will pick lemons off my mom’s lemon tree and drop them at my feet if no ball is handy. He’ll chase apples or lemons, and when he gets too tired, he eats them.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Bertie uses a special “postman” bark. We have very nice postal people, but for some reason, he distrusts them anywhere he sees them—even on other streets. On the other hand, he loves UPS!

Want to share a favorite dog story?

Bertie is a sweet hound, so we have to be very careful not to leave any chocolate, etc. within snout’s reach. When we first adopted him, I stepped outside to talk to neighbors for a few minutes and left a box of fresh pain au chocolat on the dining table (from my favorite French bakery, no less). I came back to crumbs and Bertie with a smile on his face. Luckily, there wasn’t enough chocolate to hurt him. He’s also been known to whine for bananas.

What are Bertie's best qualities?

He’s a very positive dog. He makes people feel good to be around, because he’s upbeat and sweet and puts out a lot of positive energy. And he absolutely loves people … except for the postman. He’s not a bloodthirsty dog, and we never permit him to chase other animals. In fact, he’s grown pretty tolerant of the raccoons that camp out in our back yard.

What is his proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Proudest moment was when we could finally take him out of his crate and trust him to stay in the house by himself without tearing things up. He’d had three different homes by the time he was a year old, and that left him with terrible separation anxiety. Springers are very emotional and need a strong, secure bond. He’s much better now, but he still has to be confined to less tempting areas of the house (i.e. no kitchen access).

Most embarrassing? Paying toll at any bridge.

Kelli Stanley is the author of the critically acclaimed Nox Dormienda, which won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical mystery and was nominated for a Macavity Award.

Her new novel,
City of Dragons, debuted this week.

Among the early praise for the novel:
"Beautifully imagined and beautifully written--this book does everything great fiction is supposed to."
--Lee Child

Read an excerpt from City of Dragons, and learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue