Monday, March 19, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Anne Nesbet and Soushka!

Anne Nesbet
Anne Nesbet cracks me up. Truly. She says things on her website like, "I was not a very adorable child," and "I am younger than the average dragon and older than most poodles." Speaking of her Border Collie, she writes on her website that the dog, "never met a former tree she did not want to sink her teeth into," and that the wooden furniture in her house, "live in fear. Have you ever seen a table tremble? Ours does." When I emailed Anne and asked if she and her wood-loving Border Collie, Soushka, would be interested in the Fido and Friend spotlight, she assured me she'd love to participate, and "Soushka is interested too if pine cones, tennis balls, or groups of dogs to run circles around because they look a little like sheep, are involved." See what I mean?

This funny and highly imaginative woman just debuted her first novel, The Cabinet of Earths, which Kirkus Reviews described as "a charmingly creepy European vacation for fans of chillers and thrillers." And, as you can see, it has a delicious cover. It's about 13 year-old Maya and her family who move from California to Paris. Once there, Maya and her younger brother, James, discover a hypnotically alluring cabinet, peculiar branches in their family tree, and a very creepy underground society.

Like me, Anne loves to hike the hills with her dog and think about the story she's working on. She also has a very special (to me, anyway) Super Power: she can read while she's walking! Let's meet Anne Nesbet and her Soushka in today's Fido and Friend in Five:

Soushka in her happy place
1. How did you and Soushka find each other?  Imagine the movie version: woman and dog, in slow motion, running to greet each other through green grass and daisies? Well, that's not how it happened. I was flying home from a conference in Italy and called form the airport in New York to say I was back in the country, and one of my kids answers, "in fifteen minutes, Daddy's taking us to get a PUPPY!!!!" In short, Soushka more or less came into my life over my dead (or at least absent) body. My life has changed deeply since her appearance, and the changes are almost, you know, something you could write a book about: what happens to a determinedly non-dog person when her life has to re-center itself around...a puppy!

2. What makes Soushka's tail wag?  She's a Border Collie, so she has a very beautiful tail, but (being who she is) her most joyous moments are not necessarily tail-wagging ones. She seems to me most herself when she's out on the green-grass hills of the local Marina, running great glad arcs around other people's dogs. Actual tail-wagging happens when she sees dogs or people coming. As soon as they are within view (even if very far away), she flops down on her belly and waits. And then, when they get close enough to appreciate, the tail goes wag wag wag back and forth, while she's still politely belly-flopped.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  When I was a kid, I was absolutely enthralled by all those old Albert Terhune books about collies (Lad, a Dog, Gray Dawn, and many others!). How those books came into our house, I don't know. But for all of second or third grade, I went everywhere with an entourage of invisible collies. I think one was named Silver. They were unutterably gorgeous (though invisible) and, if I recall correctly, had magical powers, and of course, were completely secret. (See? She cracks me up!)

4. If Soushka could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  That's the easiest question! She would wave her magic dog-wand and turn me into someone who sees the true beauty of tennis balls, especially muddy, slightly ragged ones. And who wants to do nothing else but throw them and throw them and throw them, eight hours a day. She is really offended by my non-appreciation of tennis balls.

Soushka and her Girl
5. Tell us in five words what Soushka means to you:  Long walks in the hills!

Okay, I just had to ask this additional question of Anne:

6. How did Soushka get her name?  Soushka is Russian, and it means a super-dry pretzel-like biscuit thing. She got the name by accident. We couldn't decide on a name, and then the puppy class teacher put her foot down and said we had to decide right that moment on SOMETHING, and my husband had been calling her "Soushka" that day as a joke, so there it was. She is a brown Border Collie, and actual sushki are tannish-brown, but that's the only similarity I can think of...

LOL! Thanks to Anne and the deliciously pretzel-like Soushka for delighting us on Fido and Friend in Five. Be sure to visit Anne's wonderfully quirky self on her website and visit her blog.

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