Monday, October 25, 2010

Anne Gracie & Chloe

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Anne Gracie and I write historical romances (Regency era) for Berkley Books. My dog's name is Chloe. She's an 8 year old tri-colored Australian Kelpie with a little Blue Heeler in the mix. They're both working breeds — sheep and cattle herding — and she's fast, loyal and intelligent.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Writing my morning pages. I usually write them first thing in the morning, sitting in bed with the sun streaming in my window, a pillow behind my back, a fresh hot coffee at my elbow and the dog either wedged beside me or teetering on the end of the bed as she hurls abuse out the window at a dog who's had the cheek to pass the house. But otherwise she waits patiently, knowing we'll have a walk when I've finished.

What's brewing?

Home brewed Colombian fair trade coffee, strong double espresso with a little milk, no sugar. It kick starts my day.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Breakfast — usually a piece of toast with avocado or sliced tomato.

Any treat for Chloe on this occasion?

No, she's already had her morning bone. Doesn't stop her doing the imitation of the dog-who's-never-been-fed, though.

How were you and Chloe united?

It was several years since my beloved old Bessie-dog had died (aged 20) and for a long time I couldn't imagine any other dog taking her place. Then I dog-sat a friend's dog for a few weeks, and realized I didn't just have a Bessie-shaped hole in my life, there was also a dog-shaped one that needed to be filled. I planned to get a dog from the shelter in a few weeks, after a conference I needed to attend.

Then I made the mistake of walking past a pet shop and paused beside a snaggle of six puppies in a big cage. One woke up, saw me, and came straight over. I'm a bit superstitious about being picked by a dog, but I was going to a conference in two weeks, and in any case, I hadn't planned to buy a puppy from a shop, so I went home and tried to be sensible for a few hours... then went back, telling myself that if she picked me again, it was Meant to Be.

When I walked into the shop, there were a couple of kids playing with the puppies on the far side of the cage. No way any puppy would leave fun like that, I thought. But Chloe turned around, saw me and ran straight over, wagging her whole little body. So that was that. I'd been picked.

Does Chloe have any influence on your writing?

Definitely. I even have a page on my website called "If you want to be a writer get a dog."

I often include a dog in my books, but only if the story warrants it.

How did your dog get her name? Does she have any aliases?

I'd thought of calling her Mixi, but she just gave me a look and I realized she was a Chloe. My friends who looked after her that first time when I went to the conference called her LittleDog, and still do.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

We're in Australia, so no squirrels. Cats definitely. Postman fine. Birds on the ground in her back yard? Outraggggeous! Each time she leaves the house she bursts from the back door and explodes into the yard like a woofing, bucking bronco, sending birds flying in all directions. Gives me a laugh every time.

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

Squeaky toys at home, tennis-ball-sized rubber/foam ball at dog-park. Actual tennis balls? For peasants. Frisbee? What is the point of catching a plate with no food on it? Really!

Who is Chloe's best pet-pal?

Toby-dog, a golden Lab who lives with the people who call her LittleDog. Chloe is smaller than Toby, but she bosses him shamelessly. The ecstasy and wild excitement when they meet is hilarious.

What is Chloe's most endearing quality?

She has lots. I love the way she curls up in the car, in the passenger seat with her muzzle planted firmly on my thigh. It's also very cute the way she shamelessly makes up to strangers at dog-park, sitting on their feet so they can't move away, and gazing meltingly up at them, offering a disgusting, drool-ridden ball as a (temporary) gift.

If Chloe could change one thing about you, what would it be?

That I would learn to fling balls and walk as I write. And then I could write/walk/fling for 18 hours a day.

What’s the most amusing thing Chloe does? The most frustrating?

The funniest thing she does happens whenever I'm about to do a load of washing. The moment I open the lid of the washing machine or pick up the washing basket she flees the house and lurks in the farthest reaches of the back yard, watching suspiciously. Because naturally I'm going to shove her in the washing machine, aren't I?

The most frustrating?

There's not really anything, she's amazingly easy to live with, but if I had to pick something, it's her ongoing war with the monster in the hose. She doesn't touch the hose itself. It's the water that spurts out of it that needs attacking. Usually I just crack up laughing. But sometimes I think she's over it, then when I least expect it she will come flying out of nowhere, leaping through the air as her jaws snap on the evil jet of water. The water escapes, but I get drenched.

But really, she's a blessing.

an excerpt from Anne Gracie's new novel, The Accidental Wedding.

Anne Gracie's website and blog, follow her on Twitter, and join her on Facebook.

Chloe stars in Gracie's featured post, "
If you want to be a writer get a dog."

--Marshal Zeringue