Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Turning a Love of Animals into Mystery

 by Linda O. Johnston, guest blogger

Everyone who leaves a comment today will be entered in a drawing for a free signed copy of Beaglemania.

I love animals.

I love to write.

I love to write about animals!

For several years, I’ve been writing the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. This month, my Pet Rescue Mystery series debuts with Beaglemania. The new series is a spinoff from the Kendra series, although both can be read independently.

My new protagonist is Lauren Vancouver, the director of HotRescues, a no-kill animal shelter. She was introduced in How Deadly, the eighth Kendra mystery, and she also appeared in Feline Fatale, the ninth.

Now she has some stories of her own, starting with Beaglemania. Saving animals is her passion, and she’ll be involved with some rather difficult situations such as being there when puppies and their parents are saved from a puppy mill. The second Pet Rescue Mystery, The More the Terrier, starts off with Lauren learning that her mentor in pet rescue has turned into an animal hoarder, and Lauren has to help deal with that, too.

Because these are mysteries, they contain murders that must be solved – and Lauren gets involved with that as well. In the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people! And who gets killed in Beaglemania? Someone involved with that terrible puppy mill, of course.

By the way, I even write about animals in my paranormal romance mini-series for Harlequin Nocturne, which features Alpha Force, a covert military unit of shapeshifters. They include canines, too--werewolves. Not to mention a shifting lynx and lady hawk!

That’s another thing that is fun about the stories I write. They’re fiction, so I can do what I want in them--to a point. They have to remain logical as well as enjoyable to readers.

One fairly fictional thing I can do is to make sure that HotRescues is adequately funded without a lot of stress on Lauren’s part.

Plus, no matter what else happens in these stories, the animals will come out of it all just fine. Too bad that isn’t always true in real life, but since I’ve started researching Lauren’s stories I’ve met with pet rescuers of many kinds who would love to make it so.

Pet rescue has drawn me in personally, too. I’ve begun volunteering at a private shelter, Pet Orphans of Southern California. I’m a dog adoption counselor there, which means I screen potential adopters and introduce them to dogs they might fall in love with. It’s such a thrill for me when I see that the people and pets I’ve introduced are now a family!

I’m also the Los Angeles Pet Rescue Examiner, for the Examiner.com website.
I’m even trying to combine as many of my booksignings as possible with pet adoption events.

I like my character Lauren. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing about her. I’m not sure what Lauren would think of me, though. She’s very dedicated and logical and in some ways single-minded about how animals should be treated. In my writing, I put animals into situations where they could be harmed, and she might not like that. On the other hand, I allow her to resolve those situations in ways that work well for those endangered animals, and Lauren would undoubtedly applaud that.

In any event, I definitely appreciate Lauren and all she does--both saving animals and solving murders. I hope you enjoy her, too.

Please come visit me at www.LindaOJohnston.com and at www.KillerHobbies.blogspot.com on Wednesdays. Friend me on Facebook. I’d love to hear what you think of pet rescue--and Beaglemania!

31 comments:

Mary Jane said...

My first dog was a Beagle so I would love to read your book. I now raise Chinese Cresteds and Chihuahuas. I love that so many authors are now writing about dogs and good luck with your book.

MJ Frederickson
1102 Esteppe Rd
Front Royal, VA 22630

caryn said...

Our dog park helps support a couple of no kill groups here and a pet food bank that helps pet owners keep their pets when times are tough. But I really admire the people who are out there on the front lines working with the animals directly. That is a job I cannot do or I'd bring half of them home!
(I already have the book so please leave me out of the drawing to give others a better chance.)
Caryn in St.Louis

Ingrid King said...

I love discovering new animal themed mystery series - will add yours to my TBR list! The cover of Beaglemania is adorable.

I've had much better success at book signings with my own book at pet related events than in bookstores. Good luck to you!

Steve Liskow said...

I grew up with both Beagles and Brittany Spaniels, and now my wife and I have two cats that were rescued from a shelter. They're the best buddies we've ever had.

You can tell a lot about people from the way they treat animals.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Chinese Cresteds and Chihuahuas are adorable, Mary Jane. Thanks for your good wishes!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I empathize, Caryn. I'd love to bring a lot of the dogs at the shelter where I volunteer home with me. Fortunately, though, most seem to find good homes fairly quickly.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I'm trying to combine pet-related events with signings, Ingrid. Wherever possible, I schedule my signings to coincide with pet adoption events at or near the bookstores.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I agree, Steve. I'll never understand people who abandon or abuse animals. Our pets live to love us!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mysteries and dogs - two of my favorite things. I'm a supporter of our local no-kill shelter. Over the years, all our dogs (and there have been a bunch) have come from shelters, unwanted litters, or just walked up and moved in.

And I've love to win a copy of Beaglemania so please drop my name in the hat.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I like your name and your attitude, Linda!

Katreader said...

I love animals...much more that people, to be honest. I love your Pet Sitter mysteries and can't wait to read your new rescue series. I currently have 13 kids-9 rats, 3 cats, and a horse. I also am considering adopting a dog to add to the family. I try to support animal rescues as much as possible-in fact I'm doing my first craft show to benefit the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption program (which finds homes for retired race horses). If only all rescues could have nearly unlimited funding like Lauren. Keep up the great work!

Diane said...

Linda, one of my two (current) dogs is a beagle, adopted from the pound near Ft. Knox, KY. He is a sweetheart, but - like your bookcover - a bit devious when it comes to anything edible. While on a much needed diet last year - and with a recovering bad back - he managed to pull a container (plastice, thank heavens) of home baked chocolate chip cookies. Ate every one, every crumb. I mean the container was licked so clean, it looked as if it had held nothing. He was fine, by the way. No effects from either the chocolate or jumping (well, he was on his diet a bit longer).

All of my animals are and always have been rescues. And just donated a huge amount for surgery for an older adopted rescue in So. California. She is 11 and has a huge (non-cancerous, thank heavens) tumor on her stomach. The owners, who adopted her 2 years ago, can't afford the $1400 surgery, and donatios were coming in, but slowly and small. She needs it now. It's the size of a grapefruit. Literally. She's going to have it now, by end of week, or start of next week.

I'd love to have a copy of your new book. Kill off those animal abusers - in really nasty ways.

Diane said...

By the way, when I said my beagle got the container of chocolate chip cookies, I was talking about from the kitchen counter. Without a chair or anything else to climb up on. He's really food oriented and determined.

Sandra Parshall said...

I really love that cozy publishers are letting writers tackle "difficult" subjects like animal rescue in the context of their mysteries. Who says cozies have to steer clear of real life problems?

Jane said...

This sounds like a terrific series. Can't wait to read it.

Jody said...

This sounds like a great new series. I'm pretty sure I'd like it.

Pat R. said...

I've never owned a Beagle but my neighbor did and I took care of him a number of times when they went out of town. My dog was a bit jealous.

coppertop45 said...

I've read your other series from the beginning and have enjoyed the stories and the great titles! Now, I'd like to read your new series. Hope I win!

BBibel said...

My dogs have all been rescues, so I am glad taht you are doing this wonderful work and writing about it.

Alice Duncan said...

Hi, Linda! You know me. I've got a house full of rescued wiener dogs. I'm so very glad you're writing a series about dog rescue! Best of luck with the series.

Helen Kiker said...

Both pet rescue and pet adoption are worthy causes.

I enjoy mysteries with pets as part of the story.

Helen Kiker
hdkiker@comcast.net

Linda O. Johnston said...

You certainly have a great-sounding houseful, Katreader. Yes, it's fun to create a fictional shelter like HotRescues where money won't be an issue! Thanks for reading.

Linda O. Johnston said...

What a story, Diane. So glad your beagle was okay after his unhealthy treat. I hope the ill adopted rescue dog comes out just as well, too.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's true that pet rescue is a difficult and sometimes controversial subject, Sandra. But as I keep saying, in my Pet Rescue Mysteries "no-kill" means pets, not people. As with the funding of HotRescues, I can make sure my animals all have happy endings!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Jane and Jody!

Linda O. Johnston said...

My dogs are always jealous when I come home after a day of shelter volunteering, Pat R. I try to explain to them how good they have it, being spoiled at home!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, coppertop45. I hope you enjoy the Pet Rescue Mysteries, too!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, and hugs to your rescue dogs, BBibel!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Alice! Good to see you here. Yes, I'm well aware of the great job you do rescuing wiener dogs. Hugs to your houseful, too!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I agree, Helen. I hope you enjoy the Pet Rescue Mysteries!

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