Mistress of the Dog Lover’s Mystery

Susan Conant with Django

Susan Conant with Django

I’m delighted to share my site this week with the terrific author Susan Conant. A seven-time winner of the Dog Writers Association of America’s prestigious Maxwell Award, Susan is the author of the Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. Since publishing A New Leash on Death in 1990, Susan’s given us years of enjoyment as we followed the adventures of dog writer and dog trainer Holly Winter and her Alaskan Malamutes. This year, she’s published Sire and Damnthe 20th in the series, and she’s here to discuss the series and her work as a writer.

Be sure to bookmark the site and return later this week when Susan will return to discuss changes in the publishing industry and talk about the writing process. Leave a comment here or on Facebook (links provided at the end of the post). When you post a comment, we’ll enter your name in a drawing for a Kindle edition of Sire and Damn to be sent to you (or the gift recipient of your choice). Now here’s Susan, talking about her series and what’s next:

Along a range of say, lighthearted cozy to dark mystery, how would you describe the overall atmosphere of the series?

Although some of my books deal with serious subjects, my writing is lighthearted. My narrator, Holly Winter, is an extroverted optimist. The same could be said about her malamutes. She loves the world she writes about: she loves the dogs and the dog people. Her affection is, I hope, infectious.

You’ve been writing about Holly Winter (dog writer, trainer, and amateur sleuth) for many years. How has she changed over time?

She has become less judgmental and less naive over the course of the series. Also, in the early books, she is fiercely independent and never intends to marry. As it turns out, marriage suits her well.

Like most professions, the dog world has its own vocabulary, with much of it unfamiliar to people who don’t breed, show, or train dogs. How do you decide what (and how much) to include for readers unfamiliar with dog shows, breeds, or canine behavior?

What’s enough but not too much? It’s essential not to blather on in jargon that will make many readers feel left out, but it’s equally essential not to bore readers senseless by explaining terms they already know or don’t care about. Oy veh! Well, I always explain anything that’s necessary to understand the story. Not every reader will know that frozen means frozen semen! And canine semen at that.

Because I’m inviting readers to visit the world of dog training, breeding, and showing, I also try to make the invitation welcoming to anyone who is a stranger in that world. Furthermore, I love having fun with the eccentric language of the dog world: He bred to her. She has bad fronts. He threw woollies. I love that language. Fortunately, so do the people who are fluent in it!

Do you have a personal favorite in the series?

I’m particulDogfather Susan Conantarly fond of The Dogfather because I have happy memories of writing the entire book in longhand. It was an utterly impractical way to write a book. I’m not recommending it, and I hope never to do it again. I did it because I had some irrational sense that it was how the book wanted to be written. In my illegible handwriting! But the story flowed, and I had fun.

 What’s next?

I now have my first sheltie, Tori, who is my first herding breed and my first small dog. She is certainly a contrast to my malamutes and to the other dogs I’ve owned. I am so crazy about her that I owe her a book. I haven’t decided whether my sheltie story will be a Holly Winter mystery, a stand-alone novel, or the beginning of a series. I have a lot of scrawled notes about the book. Sooner or later, the story will come to me. I am waiting impatiently.

Susan with Tori

Susan Conant with Tori

Where can fans buy your books?

I own three Kindles, and I have Kindle apps on my Mac, my iPhone, and my iPad. I subscribe to Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited. Amazon offers incentives to authors who decide to make their books Amazon exclusives.  Amazon has taken over my life. Oh, the question. You can buy my books on Amazon.

Sire and Damn

Okay, readers and fans: it’s your turn! Leave a comment here, or drop by Susan’s Facebook page, or you can leave a comment on my own Facebook page. If you’ve read the series, let us know if you have a favorite. You’re welcome to ask questions, too! We’ll draw the winner of the Sire and Damn on Saturday, so be sure to leave your comment before then.