Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Q&A with Tracy Weber!

This week, we sat down with Tracy Weber, author of the Downward Dog mysteries. Her latest, A Killer Retreat, came out earlier this month.

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing?
Tracy Weber: I started my yoga blog in 2011, but I didn’t start writing fiction until 2012. I’ve been super lucky to have my first two books published.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
TW: I walk in the paw prints of several other fabulous dog mystery writers, including Laurien Berenson, Susan Conant, Waverly Curtis, and Sheila Boneham. Each brings a unique voice and outlook to their mysteries, and each incorporates dogs in their mysteries in a different way—from dog shows, to animal photography, to talking Chihuahuas.

MI: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
TW: Teaching more yoga! I’ve had to give up most of my group classes and all of my private clients to find enough time to write. I don’t regret it though. I still get my yoga fix managing the studio and leading my yoga teacher trainings.

MI: If you have a job outside of writing, what is it?
TW: I own and teach at my Seattle yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga. The biggest parts of my non-writing work are managing the business aspects of the studio, providing the studio’s customer interface, and designing and teaching yoga teacher training programs. Like most people, I have a very full life.

MI: What is/are your favorite thing/s to do when you’re not writing or working?
TW: Taking long walks with my German shepherd, Tasha. She introduces me to the neighbors and reminds me to find joy in life’s simple experiences, like visiting with crows, scarfing up dropped cookies, and tugging on fallen sticks. Lest he feel neglected, I should probably also mention that I love hanging out with my husband, Marc.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
TW: Susan Conant’s Holly Winter. Holly is a dog writer and dog trainer, and each of her stories explores a different facet of the dog world. I’ve read every one of Susan’s books at least once, and I hope there will be another someday soon.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
TW: Yes. I’m really fond of the murder case in my third book, tentatively titled Karma’s a Killer, which will be released by Midnight Ink in 2016. This case is truly personal for Kate. The more she learns about the murder suspects, the more she remembers from her past, which she forgot for good reason. By the time Kate solves the crime, she is truly transformed.

MI:What was your inspiration for the Downward Dog mysteries?
TW: The idea came to me on a rainy evening about three years ago, while in the middle of a brutal workout at my favorite health club. I was pedaling away, reading a Susan Conant novel to distract myself from the evil exercise bike, when a quote from Black Ribbon about crazy dog people made me burst out loud laughing. I knew I’d found my author soul mate. Someone who truly got me.

I went home, looked her up on the web, and stumbled across a site about cozy mysteries. As I read about hundreds of other wonderful cozy series, I began to wonder: What would happen if a yoga teacher with a crazy dog like mine got mixed up in murder? Kate Davidson and Bella popped into my head a few days later. The rest is history.

MI: Tell us about Kate Davidson (and Bella!)
TW: Kate is a study in contrasts. She’s a yoga teacher, but like many women, she’s “average” in weight, not super flexible, and not all that pleased with her body. Kate wants to live according to the yoga teachings, but she often acts impulsively, only to later regret it.

Kate has difficulty controlling her temper, but she is also a caring, committed person who protects those around her, even if doing so is not in her best interests. Kate will continue to grow and develop throughout the series. My first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, was the story of how she bonded with and commited to Bella; the second, A Killer Retreat, explores her relationship with Michael; the third, coming in 2016, introduces a third character from Kate’s past that will challenge her in unexpected ways. That character will force Kate to learn how to forgive.

Bella is . . . amazing. But since she’s based on my own German shepherd, Tasha, how could I believe anything else? Like Kate, Bella is a deeply flawed being. She suffers from an autoimmune disease called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, and she doesn’t like other dogs or some men. Yet she’s loyal, smarter than most humans I know, and willing to sacrifice herself for Kate or anyone else in her pack. We should all be lucky enough to experience the devotion of a soul like Bella.

MI: Do you have a pet? Tell us about him/her.
TW: I have two furred pets and about a dozen finned ones. Tasha, who I mentioned above, is my one hundred pound, ten-year-old German Shepherd. Maggie is my fourteen-year-old gray tabby cat. They are both a little quirky and they intensely dislike each other, so we’ve had to come up with a family compromise. Each of them owns one-third of the house. Maggie gets two bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper floor, Tasha gets my office, the bathroom, and the garage on the bottom. The kitchen and living room are a neutral zone that hubby Marc and I have claimed for our own.

"the suckie fish" and Darth
I also have a seventy-five gallon aquarium with a dozen fish. “Darth” and one of the “tiger fish” are in the photo. Darth, the striped fish, and a spotted plecostomus we call “the suckie fish” have been with us over thirteen years now. We moved them each in a separate 5-gallon bucket when we purchased our house eight years ago. So I guess I should really say that the second floor of our house belongs to the fish.

MI: If you don’t have a pet, do you have a favorite animal?
TW: Even though I have pets, I have to answer this question. I love all animals. I have a dream of one day moving to the country and adding goats, chickens, and a pig or two to the menagerie!

MI: What food could you live off of for the rest of your life?
TW: Black bean pita burgers with three pepper salsa—a specialty at my local ale house. I already eat it three times a week, so expanding it to the rest of my life isn’t much of a stretch.

MI: Do you have a favorite recipe?
TW: Does tossing a few pomegranate seeds into a glass of champagne count? I can’t cook. I’m not even allowed to use the stove alone anymore, since I consistently forget to turn it off and leave the gas flame burning for hours at a time. I survive on smoothies, microwave dinners, and lots and lots of meals out.

MI: What is your favorite part about being an Inker?
TW: Getting to know my fellow Midnight Ink authors, of course. The Midnight Ink crowd is friendly, kind, funny, supportive, and . . . Well you get the picture. I feel like I’ve developed a network of friends with my other Inkers.

A Killer Retreat, the second Downward Dog mystery, is available online and in bookstores now!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 2015 Books Available Now!

Don't miss Midnight Ink's latest releases!

“Cozy readers will enjoy the twist-filled plot.”—Publishers Weekly on A Killer Retreat

“This reviewer is eagerly anticipating more from this series, and a return of a cast more fun than an episode of Portlandia.”—RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars) on The Accidental Alchemist

“[T]he twisty plot is well delivered . . . Anyone who loves a strong ghost yarn will savor this tale.”—Library Journal on Dying for the Past

Now available from Midnight InkBarnes & NobleAmazonIndiebound, and your local bookseller!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Highlights from 2014

This week, Midnight Ink intern Jessica Nelson recaps six books in-depth from our 2014 catalog:

Trusting Viktor by Lee Mims (February)
Betting her life savings on a risky offshore natural gas enterprise, brilliant geologist Cleo Cooper has high hopes for a big payday. But a violent attack onboard the drillship darkens Cleo’s optimism.
Days later, a man washes up on the coast near the drill sight, but is it the man who assaulted Cleo? When Viktor, a promising young Russian geologist is hired as the dead man’s replacement, Cleo isn't sure if he’s friend or foe. The truth seems to be lurking beneath the surface, and as she gets closer to it, Cleo begins to wonder if she's standing between a murderer and a treasure worth killing for.
". . . a breezily entertaining whodunit."—Publishers Weekly
"[A] fun read."—Mystery Scene

Montecito Heights by Colin Campbell (April)

Saving a senator’s daughter from LA’s porn industry is one gig that needs serious discretion . . . but discretion is not Jim Grant’s specialty. Before long, Grant finds himself busting a robbery on live television, spreading his arms wide to show he’s unarmed—the same pose that earned him the nickname Resurrection Man in Boston.
The spotlight may be good for Grant’s ego, but it’s bad for his health. The Dominguez drug cartel is looking for him, and his work for the senator has uncovered a ring of dirty cops who want him out of the way. Helped by an ex-cop working on CSI: NY and hindered by a film crew that wants to make him a reality television star, Grant must tread carefully. In the city of angels, corruption runs deep, loyalty is fragile, and justice is hard to find.
". . .wry maverick Grant never fails to entertain." —Kirkus Reviews
"This gritty thriller . . . maintains a breakneck pace . . . [and] its smart structure and unrelenting suspense will please Lee Child fans."—Library Journal

The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson (May)
That was the day I met Gus, the day I grew a family as if from magic beans, the day she died. That's the point, see? It was the very same day…
Jessie Constable has learned the hard way to always keep herself safe. But meeting Gus King changes everything. Before she knows it, Jessie is sleeping at Gus's house, babysitting his kids, becoming a part of his family. And yet, she can't ignore the unsettling questions. Who does she keep seeing from the corner of her eye? Why are strange men threatening her? Most importantly, what really happened to Gus's wife?
Creating a brilliant, foreboding mystery where nothing is as it seems, master storyteller Catriona McPherson weaves an ominous tale that will keep you guessing until the very end.

"McPherson's second stand-alone is a tour de force, a creepy psychological thriller that will leave you breathless."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Keep the lights on and batten down the hatches, for McPherson’s psychologically terrifying stand-alone demands to be read all night."—Library Journal

The White Magic Five & Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco (July)
Much to Alanis McLachlan's surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother's tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.
With help from a hunky cop and her mother's live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother's clients.  But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards ... and the secrets surrounding her mother's demise.
"Cozy readers with a taste for humor will welcome this hilarious series debut . . . [and] will eagerly await the next installment."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Hockensmith...and coauthor Falco deliver a charming comic mystery, which one hopes is the beginning of a series."—Booklist
"[A] clever and compelling tale filled with colorful and engaging characters and a whodunit plot."—ForeWord Reviews
"From the unique title to the cool cover, this book has it all . . . A+ across the board!"—Suspense Magazine
"Fun and light."—Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine 

The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman (October)
Samuel Hoenig answers questions for a living. And as a man with Asperger’s Syndrome, his unique personality helps him ferret out almost any answer there is. But his latest question is a rather odd one—who stole a preserved head from the Garden State Cryonics Institute?
Arriving at the scene of the crime accompanied by his new colleague, Ms. Washburn, Samuel finds that what started out as a theft has escalated to murder. With suspects and motives emerging at a rapid rate, one final question remains—can Samuel’s powers of deduction uncover a killer in the face of overwhelming odds?
 "[A] delightful and clever mystery."—Publishers Weekly 
"In this well-crafted story, the Asperger's element . . . provides a unique point of view on crime-solving, as well as offering a sensitive look at a too-often-misunderstood condition."—Booklist
"Copperman/Cohen succeeds in providing a glimpse not only of the challenges experienced by those with Asperger's, but also of their unique gifts."—Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
"Cleverly written and humorous."—CrimeSpree Magazine

Tradition of Deceit by Kathleen Ernst (November)

Book 5 in the award-winning historical Chloe Ellefson Mystery series
Curator and occasional sleuth Chloe Ellefson is off to Minneapolis to help her friend Ariel with a monumental task. Ariel must write a proposal for a controversial and expensive restoration project: convert an abandoned flour mill, currently used as shelter by homeless people, into a museum. When a dead body is found stuffed into a grain chute, Chloe's attention turns from milling to murder.
Back in Milwaukee, Chloe's love interest Roelke has been slammed with the news that a fellow officer was shot and killed while on duty. Sifting through clues from both past and present, Chloe and Roelke discover dangerous secrets that put their lives—and their trust in each other—at risk.
"Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series."—Library Journal
"Everybody has secrets in this action-filled cozy."—Publishers Weekly

Monday, December 8, 2014