Eight writers sharing their experiences, because writing can be a solitary craft. It's good to have friends.
Why Dogs? by Linda O. Johnston
Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and the Superstition Mysteries. She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and additionally currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne. Her June release was her 46th published novel, with more to come.
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All my fellow Writers in Residence have been focusing their posts on pets for a while, and there are few subjects of more interest to me than that.
Why? I’m a dog lover. A cynophilist. All my novels these days feature dogs in one form or another. In my Harlequin Nocturne paranormal romances, those canines might be shapeshifters or their cover dogs. In my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, they include the protagonist Carrie Kennersly’s dog Biscuit as well as canine customers in her barkery, where she sells dog treats based on healthy recipes she developed as a veterinary technician. My Superstition Mysteries featured Pluckie, a dog who’s lucky according to superstitions because she’s black and white–and she proves to be lucky in the stories. And my upcoming K-9 Ranch miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense has a background of many kinds of dog training occurring on that K-9 Ranch.
Is that all? Not really. In my first mystery series, the Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter Mysteries that I wrote for Berkley Prime Crime, Kendra was a lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills with her tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Lexie. At the time, I was a practicing lawyer, and I still live in the Hollywood Hills with my two Cavaliers, although we lost our wonderful Lexie last year. Unlike Kendra, though, I haven’t tripped over murder victims–except in my mind. And my second mystery series, the Pet Rescue Mysteries, was a spin-off from the Kendra books.
So why dogs? I’m not sure why I started loving them, but I was definitely young. I convinced my grandfather to buy me my first puppy from a pet store when I was eight years old. I learned a horrible lesson then about pet stores at the time. My mother took Cuddles to a vet when I was in school the next day, and learned that the poor pup had distemper. We returned her to the store and learned that all the dogs there had distemper. In those days we couldn’t even bring a dog into the house for a three-month quarantine period after that, and I used the time to research breeds. My next puppy was a Boston Terrier from a qualified breeder, and I had Frisky for quite a while.
Then, years later, on my first trip to London I saw my first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on a woman’s lap on the Underground. The rest was my history. I hunted for a Cavalier puppy when I returned to the States and have been owned by them ever since. Our current Cavaliers are Mystie, a Blenheim (red and white) and Cari, another tricolor. Cari’s still a puppy, very cute, very energetic, and very determined to play with Mystie, whether Mystie wants it or not.
Dogs have inspired other aspects of my life, too, and I absolutely love writing about them. In fact, I’m always dreaming up new story ideas but don’t have time to follow up on all of them.
Why? Well, if you’ve ever been leapt on by a puppy who wants nothing but attention and to give you doggy kisses, you know. If you’ve ever worked with training a dog who really wants to learn what you want so you’ll be happy with him, you know. If you’ve ever looked into a dog’s eyes and believe you understand what they’re communicating to you, you know.
Will I ever write anything in the future that doesn’t have dogs? Possibly, but there’d have to be a good reason for it.
For now, dogs rule in my real life–and in my writing.