How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?
I’d known Christine Nolfi for quite a while through various online venues, and respected her work enormously. She’d written two very successful novellas The Shell Keeper and The Shell Seeker and messaged me to see if I might be interested. Of course, I wanted to learn more.
My writer-ly dance card is pretty full with my nonfiction pet books, my Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog and my own thriller series, but I was intrigued, especially when Toby mentioned that the main character Lei had a Rottweiler police dog named Keiki. Boy, did my ears prick up (I won’t say my tail wagged, but I was excited).
Tell us how your story links to the Lei Crime Series.
Since I’ve never had the privilege to visit Hawaii, I decided to stay closer to what I know, and so my novella is set in North Texas. It takes place about two years before Blood Orchids, long before Lei ever met her future canine partner.
In my novella Born to Love, Keiki is four months old, one of nine Rottweiler puppies being trained by Lia Corazon. The title refers to several relationships in the book, since all of the characters struggle over issues of trust, commitment, loss and betrayal. Keiki has her own viewpoint chapters. But she does NOT talk, not in human terms anyway. Keiki communicates with Lia and even other dogs via body language, scent signals, and the occasional vocalization, in the same way that real dogs communicate. She does have thoughts—pure made-up fun speculation!
The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?
I love to read and write thrillers, so this novella is fast paced race with some mystery thrown in. Most of the story takes place in a single day, and that ramps up the thrills. There actually is a bit of romance, too, or perhaps I should say the promise of romance. After all, Keiki is only a baby-dog in this story, but dogs mature very quickly, so a sequel may offer a bit of doggy wooing.
However, featuring Keiki as a main character means I pay attention to timeline issues. I don’t want an animal character to “age out” too quickly.
Tell us a little about your main character. Why do you think readers will like her?
I suspect readers of the Lei Crime Series have already fallen in love with the adult Keiki, and they’ll likely recognize her in my novella. She’s a puppy with all the wide eyed wonder and non-stop enthusiasm of baby-dogs everywhere. Like many youngsters with little experience, she’s easily wowed and also easily overwhelmed, and hasn’t yet learned to temper her reactions. Puppies at four months of age are like sponges, and soak up life-lessons constantly (some that owners won’t like!), so it’s great fun to highlight some of those examples.
Even at this young age, Keiki offers a glimpse of the imposing adult she’ll become. In the story, she learns more about herself—and her person, Lia—than perhaps she wanted to know. Neither of them are infallible, both need love, and together they are stronger than apart.
What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
The clearest, most consistent them in all of my books is love conquers all. In Born to Love, you’ll find the characters looking for love, pushing it away, and discovering love in all kinds of ways: love between a disillusioned girl and her demanding family, lost love between a parent and child, rejected love of a suitor, discovered love between a puppy and her “person” and even the promise of love between a young Rottweiler and her mysterious canine hero.
The same holds true in my own thrillers, even though a LOVE theme sounds totally at odds when my books are roller-coaster thrill rides. In my pet-centric September Day Series each book takes place over a 24-hour period, and only a few weeks pass between books. September, a behaviorist, suffers from PTSD and is partnered with a German Shepherd service dog and has his own viewpoint chapters. The books chronicle the journey of a damaged soul, September, on her road to recovery with the help of a gentle canine champion. Of course, much mayhem ensues (as happens with thrillers!), but it is the emotional journey that makes me weep as I write and, I hope, as readers read.
Share some of your story about becoming a writer.
I call myself the “accidental pet writer” because I never intended to be a writer. But after working for quite a while as a veterinary technician, and sharing some of the funny, sad, bizarre and shocking true experiences with my family, my Mom told me I should write them down. So I did…and it’s all Mom’s fault. *s* I wrote dozens of articles for the “pet press” when cat and dog magazines were still published in paper, and one Christmas I got a phone call from a New York publisher who had read a couple of the articles. She asked me if I wanted to write a book—and six months later, Bantam-Doubleday-Dell published my first nonfiction feline book, and a few months after that, the dog version was published. Wow.
Lots of books came after, with the help of a marvelous agent, and today I’ve had more than 30 nonfiction pet care books published. The best sellers include The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats, and two of the Chicken Soup books that I helped edit. It’s gratifying to know your work can not only inspire readers to laugh out loud or to tears, but also save pet lives.
Meanwhile, I’d always wanted to write fiction, but the New York publishing world were never interested in my pet-centric stories. Finally, I decided to write the book I’d always wanted to read, and the first book in the series Lost and Found was published by a forward-thinking small press, followed by Hide and Seek, and Show and Tell. Others will come soon.
So today, I continue to publish as a hybrid author, using whatever best fits the project. Adding a novella in the prestigious Lei Crime Kindle World makes perfect sense as a great next step as an authorpreneur.
Do you have a background related to your writing? What makes you interesting outside of your books? Authors are often some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met!
Hmnn. Well, I’m notoriously cheap so I always try to learn how to do things myself. For instance, I’m also a singer/actor/musician and a produced playwright. I write musicals with a writing partner. So as a voice over artist, I have my own home studio and “voice” my own audio books.
A lot of this ends up in my books, too. I play cello, and my character September plays cello (much better than I do!). She also has a rose garden that’s gone to weeds—we have about 700 roses surrounding our house.
When I have the time, I love to work in stained glass. Our house is full of floor-to-ceiling panels, and Tiffany-style lampshades, as well as a stained glass table top in the kitchen and outside patio. When we built our house, we hated the idea of wall paper, so I took a class in stained glass and designed windows instead.
What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World?
I’ve serialized two of my big pet care encyclopedias and releasing Cat Facts and Dog Facts one chapter at a time over the next year as Kindle exclusives. I’m hoping that will make the information accessible to an even wider audience.
On the fiction front, I’m working on the next book in the September Day series, and also exploring a new series which (of course!) features pet viewpoint.
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