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.

Sizzling Hot Reads!

We’re celebrating the dog days of summer by offering the Kindle edition of Deadly Ties at a special sale price of just $2.99 for a limited time. This is the first in the Waterside Kennels series; if you want to see how the story began, here’s your chance!Lab Silhouette

Book #2 in the series is due for release this fall, with book #3 on track for publication next year. While you’re waiting, here’s more dog-related mystery fiction to enjoy. Read on for a sample of some of my favorite authors who have been so generous to writers and readers alike. We all share the common bond of dogs in our books, but you’ll find considerable diversity in the way we write our traditional mysteries. I hope you enjoy browsing this list. Perhaps you’ll discover a “new to you” series!

Laurien Berenson

Gone with the Woof Laurien BerensonPoodle lovers, rejoice! Laurien Berenson‘s Melanie Travis mystery series continues, and it just keeps getting better. I’ve been a fan for years, and have been delighted to see new additions to this long-running series. (Want to read from the beginning? Start with A Pedigree to Die For.) Here’s the description for Gone with the Woof, #16 in the series:

Despite a toddler and a house full of Standard Poodles, Melanie Travis can’t pass up an opportunity to help legendary dog breeder Edward March pen his life story. But her enthusiasm flags when the breeder’s angry son Andrew demands she stop working on the book. Why becomes imperative once Andrew is killed by a seemingly intentional hit-and-run and Melanie becomes Suspect #1. To get herself out of the dog house, Melanie sniffs out every possible clue, only to run into dead ends as fast as she’s running out of time. And the longer the killer stays unleashed, the sooner she may end up in the dog house for good.

Susan Conant

Brute Strength Susan Conant

Brute Strength continues Susan Conant’s wonderful Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. (You can see the entire list of titles here, as well as other books written by this very talented author.)  Publishers Weekly said that “…series fans should enjoy spending time with familiar characters, the warm humor, and the dog lore.” Here’s the description from the Amazon book page:

When Dog’s Life columnist Holly Winter rejects applicants who want to adopt homeless dogs, she makes a lot of enemies. In dogs Holly trusts, and the dogs she trusts most are her beloved malamutes, Rowdy, Kimi and Sammy. But right now she could use a human friend. Lately, it seems wherever she turns, things go wrong: an anonymous call turns vicious, her husband is keeping secrets, and acquaintances die under mysterious circumstances. Then Holly’s own life is threatened. Can the brute strength of Rowdy, Kimi, and Sammy protect her?

Susan J. Kroupa

Dog-Nabbed cover

Dog-nabbed is the third book in the Doodlebug Mystery Series. This author is one of my favorites!  Susan J. Kroupa writes a terrific, laugh-out-loud series featuring a dog as narrator. You can read them in any order, too. Here’s the description from the Amazon sales page:

What’s not to love about a trip the Blue Ridge Mountains? Doodle has a blast—biggest yard ever, plus wild turkeys to chase–while Molly visits her grandparents. But then Molly’s good friend, Lizzie, begs for help. Lizzie’s father, under the influence of a self-proclaimed prophet named Zeke, forbids Lizzie to see anyone not approved by Zeke–not even Lizzie’s desperately ill grandmother. Defying Zeke, Molly and Lizzie meet secretly in the woods where a discovery makes Molly think Zeke’s hiding something. But how can she prove it?

As for Doodle, he loves all these hikes through the woods. Until he and Molly, hot on Zeke’s trail, end up lost—seriously, not his fault—and Doodle discovers that while it’s no fun being lost, it can be even worse to be found—by the wrong person.

Marja McGraw

Final Awkward Moments

If you’ve visited my site before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries that aren’t your typical “formula” novel. I enjoy light humor, minimal violence, and an intriguing story line. You get all three in the Bogey Man Mystery Series authored by Marja McGraw. Here’s the description of Awkward Moments, Book #4 in the series:

What might happen if you tried to bury the body of a small bird, only to find a body already buried in the hole you’ve dug. And what might happen if another body ended up in the same hole?

Join Chris, Pamela and Mikey Cross while they try to figure out why someone would be murdered during their vacation, on private property, during the middle of the night. Watch for Chris’s cranky brother to show up unexpectedly, searching for lost gold and running people off of his property.

The Cross family is at it again, just like the amateur sleuths they swear they never meant to be.

C.A. Newsome

A shot in the BarkIf you’re a fan of rescue dogs and enjoy mysteries that have a bit more suspense and a little more romance than your typical cozy, then you definitely want to check out the Lia Anderson Mystery Series. Author C. A. Newsome has rescue dogs of her own, and brings that experience to the table when writing the series. The first in the series is A Shot in the Bark and a great addition to the world of dog-related fiction. Here’s the description you’ll find on her website:

Would you recognize a serial killer if you met one? Talked to one every day?

Artist Lia Anderson doesn’t, and neither does anyone else who frequents the Mount Airy Dog Park. But a violent death brings Detective Peter Dourson into the close-knit group, and he is convinced someone is not who they seem. As the investigation uncovers secrets, Lia struggles to cope with warring emotions and a killer watches.

Sue Owens Wright

Braced for Murder

“Welcome to the Bark Side of Mystery!” That’s the greeting you’ll find on the website of Sue Owen Wright, a gifted author who’s earned the prestigious Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers Association of America. I absolutely love this series. (After all, who couldn’t love a Basset Hound?)

Here’s the description of Braced for Murder, courtesy of Sue’s website:

When Beanie volunteers to foster a homeless basset hound from Lakeside Animal Shelter, she’s headed for calamity one way or another. Beanie and Cruiser are on the crime trail once again after a reviled shelter manager is discovered euthanized. Tahoe Animal Impoundment Liberation Society (TAILS), is a prime suspect in her murder, but there are plenty of other suspects among South Lake Tahoe’s irate dog lovers, including the grieving owner of Gilda, an ill-fated basset rumored to haunt the shelter.

If Beanie doesn’t have enough trouble unleashed on her with another murder to solve and daughter Nona’s health scare, foster dog Calamity is living up to her name, creating havoc at the MacBean house. With all her behavioral issues, this crazy hound could make a dog whisperer scream. Beanie is eager to find an adopter for Calamity at the upcoming Basset Waddle fundraiser for a new no-kill animal shelter, but Calamity has other ideas.

 

There are many more great writers out there, just waiting for you to discover them! You can find these authors and other great books at the touch of your keyboard. Find us on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Try searching for “dog mysteries” at your favorite retailer. You can find us in digital and print editions online and in stores, to include independent bookstores (look for us on IndieBound as well as the major retailers). And more than one of us have audio editions of our books (or will have this fall), so be sure to browse Audible too. Now’s the perfect time to start your shopping list for upcoming holidays and special events–because books make the best gifts, of course!

Have another author and/or mystery series you’d like to suggest?

Leave a comment and recommend your own favorites!