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.
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!