Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Guest Blogger: KELLI STANLEY

I left my heart
By Kelli Stanley

I first fell in love with San Francisco when I was too young to remember it.

It made a … what would you call it? Impression? Too soft. Impact? Too plain. Maybe I should just rely on song lyrics and say it lodged itself in my three year old-heart.

I spent a good part of my adolescence growing up two hundred and fifty miles north of The City, as she is fondly known by her residents (and yes, the old adage still holds true—don’t call her “‘Frisco.”) But whenever I could, I took every opportunity to visit … to smell the diesel and coffee on early Powell Street mornings, to say hi to the uniformed door men at the grand old hotels. To peak through a cloudy view finder and picture Al Capone shivering on Alcatraz, or sit in a warm and solemn pew in Mission Dolores.

And, as soon as I could, I moved here.

I love San Francisco, with all her foibles and faults – there are more than just the San Andreas – and I knew I had to write about her. To try to capture the dichotomy of this beautiful city, the tragedies and the comedies that formed her rich history, the fog and the sunshine and two bridges across a Bay.

So I took the plunge. And that’s partly how CITY OF DRAGONS came about.

Of course, it’s set in the San Francisco of 1940 … Hammett’s city almost twenty years after Hammett wrote about it. It will always be Hammett’s city, a birthplace of noir … and I wanted to honor that history and write in that style, because hardboiled prose and film noir dialogue have been loves of mine for as long as San Francisco has been. I was born with the gene! ;)

Writing CITY OF DRAGONS was a dream, in many ways. And when my wonderful agent submitted it just last January, I hoped it would lead to other dreams … to a move from a small to a major publisher, to be able to see it in stores that couldn’t carry NOX DORMIENDA, my first book.

And …it happened! Honestly, I wake up in the middle of the night at times and *still* can’t take it in. 2009 was a heady year, first selling CITY OF DRAGONS and sequel to Thomas Dunne/Minotaur in January, then NOX winning the Bruce Alexander Award and a Macavity nomination, and then selling the sequel, CURSED, to my editor at Thomas Dunne.

CITY OF DRAGONS and Miranda Corbie, the private eye who stalks the streets of 1940 San Francisco, live in my mind, a San Francisco parallel to my home city. When I pass Fisherman’s Wharf, I think of Miranda, gazing out at Treasure Island and the World’s Fair where she works during the season … when I shop downtown and walk by the venerable Pickwick Hotel, I replay Lester Winters’ murder, and picture Miranda picking up a package from the lockers at the Stage line. And when I eat dim sum in Chinatown, the place where it all begins, I think of Eddie Takahashi, the Japanese-American teenager she finds slain on Sacramento Street.

I hope you too will leave your heart in 1940 San Francisco. Mine’s been there for a long, long time.

Thanks for reading, and big, big thanks to Stacy for letting me launch my blog tour on the BookBitch Blog! And remember, Bouchercon 2010 will be held in the City by the Bay this October …

To win your own copy of CITY OF DRAGONS please send an email to with "CITY OF DRAGONS" as the subject. You must include your snail mail address in your email. All entries must be received by February 10, 2010. One name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. The winner will receive a free copy of CITY OF DRAGONS by Kelli Stanley. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States. One entry per email address, please. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone. All entries, including names, e-mail addresses, and mailing addresses, will be purged after winners are notified.

Kelli Stanley is an award-winning author of crime fiction (novels and short stories). Her second novel, the San Francisco-set CITY OF DRAGONS, will be released by Minotaur on February 2, 2010, and has garnered praise from Lee Child, Linda Fairstein, George Pelecanos and a host of other top writers. It’s also received three starred reviews (Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal), is a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews and an IndieNext Pick from the ABA. "Children's Day", a short story prequel to CITY OF DRAGONS and set during the 1939 World's Fair in San Francisco, will be published in the highly-anticipated International Thriller Writer's anthology, FIRST THRILLS: High Octane Stories from the Hottest Thriller Writers, in June, 2010.

Kelli's debut novel, NOX DORMIENDA, was a Writer’s Digest Notable Debut, won the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award and was a Macavity Award finalist.
Kelli earned a Master’s Degree in Classics, loves jazz, old movies, battered fedoras, Art Deco and speakeasies. She is walked daily by a Springer Spaniel named Bertie.

You can find more information—including multimedia audio and video—on Kelli’s website, at


Unknown said...

Great book. I will certainly recommend it to my Librarian. I too am very partial towards San Fransisco. There is something in the city to be sure. This is Diana from Israeli Uncensored News

Julia Buckley said...

Kelli, what a great story. It just shows you have to visualize your dreams in order to know when they come true. Congratulations!

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