Friday, September 24, 2010

Kelly Creagh & Annabel

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, debut young adult author Kelly Creagh and Annabel! Anna is a terrier mix (I think she has some Yorkie in her.) She’s about four years old and a regular spit-fire!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Anna and I are celebrating the release of my first novel, Nevermore, with a cup of Joe and some doggie biscuits.

What's brewing?

I’m in love with a local coffee shop here in Louisville by the name of Sunergos. At this magical shop they roast their own coffee beans and I always have some of their blend on hand.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Always. I especially love noshing on a muffin or a warm cookie.

Any treat for Annabel on this occasion?

Certainly. Anna loves soft chewy treats and sometimes a bit of peanut butter.

How were you and Annabel united?

After my first Poe-related research trip to Baltimore, I returned with the hopes of finding a dog. I searched a lot of rescue websites and no-kill shelters. Although I really wanted to take every dog home with me, I had a hard time finding just the right pooch for my small yardless downtown apartment. Finally, on a whim, I decided to visit the city pound. In one of the cages, I found a tiny puppy pinned with several larger dogs. Needless to say that she was very very excited to see me. I knew right away that, not only was she the smallest dog in the entire pound, but she also had to come home with me. I made arrangements to adopt her, but the pound would not release her to me without spaying her first. So I had to wait. When I picked her up a few days later, I was so excited! However, it quickly became evident that there was something wrong. The first night that I had her, Anna would not eat. I thought this might have been a normal side effect of the surgery. However, she did not want to drink, either. When she finally did drink, she became sick shortly afterwards. She could keep no liquids down. I called a few vets and they all suggested that I keep an eye on her. Anna got progressively worse, however, and I ended up taking her to an animal hospital in the middle of the night. The doctor on duty informed me that Anna had Parvo viris, a highly contagious canine disease that can be especially lethal to puppies. Anna was four months old at the time and the doctor told me that, if I took her home, she would have about a fifty percent chance of surviving. If I was lucky. Of course they offered to keep her but, at the time, I could not possibly afford to pay the medical costs. Defeated, I took Anna home and, cradling her, I cried until morning.

As sad as this story seems, you probably already know it has a happy ending since I’m here now having a cup of Joe with my lovely, happy and healthy Annabel. Let’s just say that I am very lucky to have a Mom who I can count on for anything--no matter what. Early that morning, I got a call from my mom who had found a local vet who would take Anna for a very reasonable fee. Anna stayed at the vet’s office several nights and, like the champ that she is, pulled through her illness. Needless to say, Dr. Swigert became my newest hero and Anna’s permanent vet.

How did Annabel get her name? Any aliases?

In 2006, I traveled to Baltimore in order to conduct research for my novel, Nevermore, which is greatly influenced by the works, life and death of Edgar Allan Poe. I started my search for a pet as soon as I returned and so it seemed only natural to me to name her after one of Poe’s greatest poems, "Annabel Lee." And yes, Anna has many aliases, including Nanner-head, Annabel-banana-bell-pepper, Doom Cookie, Hers, Anna-B, Wookie and Scruffalufagus.

Does Annabel have any influence on your writing?

Whenever I’m pulling a long writing shift, Anna is great company. Her presence is so soothing. Though she isn’t much of a lap dog, she does like to be close, so she’ll either curl up next to me or flop herself long on the floor beneath my chair.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

All three. Especially the squirrel. She’s a terrier through and through.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Anna enjoys a good squeaky toy. She also likes little plushy toys with those little plastic music boxes inside. She’s never pulled a toy apart, so I feel safe giving her these to play with as long as I'm home. Anna also likes to play a game I call “hands.” That’s when I’ll put a blanket over my hands and scramble them around while Anna pounces!

Where is Annabel's favorite place for an outing?

She loves going to my Mom’s house so that she can run free in the spacious back yard. She likes to feel the wind in her fur and she loves to bark and chase squirrels.

Who is Annabel's best pet-pal?

Her best pet buddy is my mom’s dog, Izzy [photo, left]. She also loves my brother’s Dalmatian, Maddie. All three are great friends.

What is Annabel's best quality?

She is so empathetic and sweet. If I’m having a down day or if I’m feeling sad or sick or hurting, she always seems to know. On these days she’ll curl herself into my lap or huddle up right next to me and lay her head against my shoulder or my knee. Her affection is such a balm.

What is Annabel's proudest moment?

Whenever she gets out of the bath. Though Annabel doesn’t like taking baths, she loves to be clean. As soon as I finish with the blow-dryer and let her out of the bathroom, she starts prancing around and bounding of the furniture. She loves to show off. She also knows that being a good girl in the bath means that she’s due for a treat.

And her most embarrassing moment?

Sometimes Miss Anna likes to try and get into the trash. She knows she’s not supposed to and, if I catch her in the middle of such a heinous act, she hangs her head and her ears flop down and she looks so ashamed of herself. When she gives me that look, it’s so hard to remain stern!

Kelly Creagh holds an undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

When not writing or curled up with a good book, she can be found teaching, learning and performing the ancient art of Bellydance.

Browse inside her new novel Nevermore, and visit Kelly Creagh's website.

--Marshal Zeringue