I spend a lot of time each month searching for future books coming out to share with you. When I saw the cover of Sheila’s book I knew I had wanted to read this book. I did a little research and found out that Border Collies as well as an Australian Shepherd were some of the stars of this story. As a mom of 2 Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes I knew I had to invite Sheila to be my guest. I am thrilled that she is here today!!!
Dogs, Cats, Horses – oh my! Animals have always been part of my life, so it makes sense that they have also been important to much of my writing. Horses had most of my attention in my teens and twenties, and more than a few cats have graced by life. And as I’ve written in some of my books, I inherited the “dog gene” through my maternal line. My mother and her mother and, well, mothers all the way back, were crazy about dogs, and growing up we had a lovely variety – Chihuahuas, a mixed-breed who was my childhood heart dog, various other mixed breeds, a Scottish Deerhound, an Irish Wolfhound….In the 1980s, I got involved with dog obedience with my Labrador Retriever, Raja, and in the early 90s I fell in love with an Australian Shepherd puppy, the first of my Aussies in my life. For more than two decades I’ve been heavily involved over the years with rescue, canine-assisted therapy, public education, and various canine sports.
Write what you know, or what you love! I started writing as an academic folklorist, and spent a number of years teaching writing at universities and working as an editor and freelance writer. My first commercial magazine article was “The Legend of Gelert,” about a Welsh folktale of King Llewllyn’s hound. It was published in two versions, one of them in Dog Fancy magazine, and I was off and running. I spent a few years writing a lot of articles for dog and cat magazines. Then in the early nineties I helped founded two rescue programs. This was before the Internet was such a tool, and information was hard to find, so I decided to write the book that I could have used when I was starting. Breed Rescue (Alpine, 1998) won a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) for Best General Interest Book. For the next fifteen years I wrote almost entirely about dogs and cats, and I’m honored to say that six of my books have won “best book” awards from the DWAA and the Cat Writers’ Association, and several others were finalists.
I didn’t think I could make up a story, but a few years ago I found myself in a writers’ group with three other women who were all writing mysteries. They would show up with juicy murders and quirky characters and I would show up with “how to get puppy peepee out of your carpet.” Then one day I was driving home from a dog show and an opening line popped into my head, and a title, and by the time I got home I could see the whole story. So I started to write.
That said, like all novelists, I draw on personal experience to create characters. Janet MacPhail, the series protagonist, isn’t me, but we do share some quirks. (No, I won’t say which ones!) Sometimes life imitates fiction, too. I created Janet and made her an animal and nature photographer, then became friends with two women who are animal and nature photographers. Neither of them is precisely Janet, but they’re terrific resources for anecdotes and to keep me accurate. Janet’s Aussie Jay is – surprise! – based on my own Aussie Jay, and Labrador Retriever Drake is a composite of my own three Labs. The other dogs, too, are based on dogs I’ve seen or known or lived with. Drop Dead on Recall also has a lovely feline character, Leo, who plays a heroic part in the story, and he is a blend of my two beloved orange tabbies, Leo and Malcolm. Many of the scenes are built around my own experiences or stories I’ve heard from friends.
That’s what novelists do. We take life and bend it to our purposes and give it back to our readers. Great fun!
Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs. I love cooperative ventures – everybody wins! So I have teamed up with Canine Health Events, the Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute, and an independent bookstore in Wilmington, NC, where I live, for a “Virtual Book Launch Party” through October 31. Readers can order personally autographed print copies of Drop Dead on Recall or Rescue Matters from Pomegranate Books. I will pop into the bookstore and sign the books, and the store will ship them to the buyers. Pomegranate will then donate a portion of the sales to Canine Health Events to support their projects.
People can order online at http://www.sheilaboneham.com/dropdeadforhealthydogs.html or call Pomegranate Books at 910-452-1107.
In obedience competition, there is an exericise called the “drop on recall” in which you call your dog (the “recall”) and, on a signal from the judge, you have your dog lie down, then come the rest of the way. One of my favorite dog show bumper stickers says, “Old dog trainers never die, they just drop on recall.” So, Drop Dead on Recall opens with a leading obedience competitor keeling over during the drop on recall, and the story unfolds from there. My protagonist, Janet MacPhail, is an animal photographer who is there competing with her Australian Shepherd, Jay. Janet also has a heroic little orange tabby named Leo, and lots of other dogs play big parts in the story.
The “Animals in Focus” series is not a dog mystery series, by the way. Upcoming books involved birds, cats, and….well, we’ll see!
No one in the book is “real,” but everyone – dog, cat, bird, person – is realistic. Like my protagonist, Janet, I believe that animals are much more interesting when we see them as themselves, not as funny little people in fur coats, so the animals in my book act like, well, animals. They don’t talk, and we can’t get into their heads (though I would love about five minutes in a dog’s head!).
Sheila, Thank you so much for being my guest today. I love your real animals! I live in a house full of them so I completely understand!
About This Author
Award-winning author Sheila Webster Boneham writes fiction and nonfiction, much of it focused on animals, nature, and travel. Although best known for her writing about dogs and cats for the past fifteen years, Sheila also writes fiction, narrative nonfiction, and poetry, teaches writing workshops and classes, and is interested in speaking to groups about writing, creativity, and related topics. Drop Dead on Recall, her new mystery, is available now from your local bookseller and online in print and ebook formats; the Audible edition will be available soon. Find Sheila at http://www.sheilaboneham.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sheilawrites, and on Twitter @sheilaboneham.
Drop Dead on Recall
(An Animals in Focus Mystery)
A Brand New Series
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2012)
An Imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Paperback: 408 pages
Cover Illustration by Joe & Kathy Heiner/Lindgren & Smith
Cover Design by Lynne Menturweck
When a top-ranked competitor keels over at a dog obedience trial, photographer Janet MacPhail is swept up in a maelstrom of suspicion, jealousy, cut-throat competition, death threats, pet-napping, and murder. She becomes a “person of interest” to the police, and apparently to major hunk Tom Saunders as well. As if murder and the threat of impending romance aren’t enough to drive her bonkers, Janet has to move her mother into a nursing home, and the old lady isn’t going quietly. Janet finds solace in her Australian Shepherd, Jay, her tabby cat, Leo, and her eccentric neighbor, Goldie Sunshine. Then two other “persons of interest” die, Jay’s life is threatened, Leo disappears, and Janet’s search for the truth threatens to leave her own life underdeveloped – for good.
I absolutely loved this story!!!!! As the parent to two Border Collie/Blue Heeler mixes and 3 rescue kitties this book hit me on a very personal level. Pet lovers know all about the way our furry friends delight us.
This author knows the dog training world very well and takes us behind the ropes at the competition level. Is this competitive circuit cutthroat enough for people to get murdered??
Janet MacPhail is the perfect amateur sleuth to find out. With her camera and her own canine she can get up close and personal with all the suspects. Janet is a mature woman that I can easily relate to dealing with real life issues. Taking care of an aging parent is so very hard and making the decision to remove much of their independence is a very tough issue many of us face. The author takes on this issue with love and mixes in wonderful bits of humor that helps ease the pain we know Janet is feeling.
The author’s sense of humor is what really stands out to me in this story. The mystery is top notch, character development spot on, a bit of romance, wonderful animals, but it is the laughter that will make me remember each and every page of this story. There is a part where Janet is in a cafe waiting to meet a detective that had me laughing out loud and almost rolling on the floor. The comedic timing is excellent. I can’t believe this is Sheila Webster’s Boneham’s first dip in the fiction pool. This book is so dog gone good!!!
Fans of Linda O. Johnston and Susan Conant will love this story. All animal lovers who like great mystery will enjoy it as well. Heck I think mystery lovers will find it delightful whether they love pets or not. It is a wonderful read!
I am giving away my gently read autographed copy to one lucky winner.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”