Welcome, Tracy! Please tell us a little about Murder Strikes a Pose.
First of all, thank you so much for having me at Mochas, Mysteries, and Meows. It is a delight to get to virtually meet your readers.
Murder Strikes a Pose is a happily-ever-after, murder mystery, human-animal love story! At least that’s how I think of it. ;-)
The main story is about Kate Davidson, a yoga teacher with chunky thighs, tight hamstrings, and a fiery temper who befriends a homeless man named George and his horse-sized German shepherd, Bella. When George is killed behind Kate’s yoga studio, Kate struggles to come to terms with (and solve) his murder while trying to find a permanent home for Bella.
Ultimately, though, it’s the story of how Kate learns to love—and make sacrifices for—a creature that is far from perfect, even though not doing so would make her life significantly easier. Throw in a new boyfriend, a trouble-causing, matchmaking best friend, and lots of yoga, and it’s a story that I hope will entice you, make you laugh, and stay with you long after you finish.
What inspired your Downward Dog Mysteries?
Wow. So many things. I’ve talked about Susan Conant, yoga, and my certifiably crazy dog obsession in other blogs. Those three things together definitely inspired me to write this series. My tag line says it perfectly: “Yoga, dogs, and murder. What could be more fun?”
My dog, Tasha, has some of the same issues as Bella. She’s huge, not always perfectly-well behaved, and she has a variety of expensive health conditions, yet I adore her to a fault. Living with Tasha has changed my life, in every way for the better. At the same time, she gets me into some pretty funny situations sometimes. My yoga students have been putting up with my “Tasha stories” for years now, so writing them down seemed like a no-brainer.
A human inspired the plot of Murder Strikes a Pose, however. A homeless lady used to hang out near the entrance to my neighborhood grocery store, and she always had a large Rottweiler mix in a crate next to her. Over time, I got to know them both, and I asked her about the crate. She told me that the Rottweiler would sometimes lunge at other dogs that walked by on the sidewalk. The crate—which she stored behind the building at night—allowed her to keep the dog with her, in spite of its reactivity.
The lady (I’m so sorry I never learned her name!) adored that dog and went to great lengths to take care of it, in spite of her own financial issues and living conditions. She was as dedicated to her pet as most people are to their children.
I started to wonder: What if her dog had Tasha’s illnesses as well as its behavior issues? What would she do? What could she do? That’s when Bella and George formed in my head. I want to be clear: George is not that woman—not even close. He has alcoholism and many other issues that she did not have. But like her, he knows the joy and heartache that come from deep love for an imperfect creature.
Unfortunately, she disappeared from the neighborhood long before I wrote the first draft of Murder Strikes a Pose. I haven’t seen her almost two years, so I’ll probably never know what she would have thought about being my muse. I hope she would have felt complimented.
I'd love to know about your pets (and what does it mean on your author page where you call kitty Maggie your "bonito flake-loving cat"?
Right now I have one dog (9-year old German shepherd Tasha) and one cat (14-year old six-toed tabby Maggie). Maggie loves my husband to pieces and barely tolerates me. In fact, I’m pretty sure Maggie is plotting to kill me and the dog, so she can have my husband all to herself. If I pet her, she scratches me; if I don’t pet her she scratches me; if she wants attention, she demands it. Then when I give it to her, well, she scratches me. ;-)
And I have to admit, the dog gets better perks in life than Maggie. Tasha gets the walks, the treats, the special attention, the car rides. Maggie gets her claws clipped. But the one thing Maggie loves—much more than me—is a treat called bonito flakes. Nothing makes her happier than a few bonito flakes tossed on the floor.
Tasha is one hundred percent German shepherd. Meaning if you’re in the pack, you’re a friend for life. If you’re out of the pack, you must prove your worthiness over time by feeding her an unending stream of dog treats. In Tasha’s eyes, I can do no wrong. What’s not to love about that? She’s also a gorgeous animal, and she knows it. She loves having people comment on her beauty, which they do often.
What is a typical writing day for you?
I write in fits and spurts, meaning there is no typical writing day. I’m more productive in the afternoon and evening, so when I write, I usually start after lunch, and I often write until very late in the night. Some weeks I don’t write at all, because I’m focused on running my yoga studio or developing my yoga teacher training programs. Other days I write 12 hours or more. The only thing typical about my writing is that there is no typical! ;-)
What/who are some of your favorite mystery books and authors on your bookshelf?
I adore light-hearted, dog-related mysteries, above all. Susan Conant, Laurien Berenson, Sheila Boneham, and Waverly Curtis are some of my favorites. I also love a good legal thriller, though I haven’t read one in awhile.
What are you working on now?
The second novel in the Downward Dog Mysteries series, A Killer Retreat is due to my publisher February 1, so I’m typing my fingers to the bone on that manuscript. In this installment, Kate, Bella, and her friends are on vacation at a retreat center on a small Washington island. Of course, Kate gets involved in solving a murder, and Bella gets Kate into lots of trouble!
One thing your readers might be surprised to learn about you?
This is always a tough one for me to answer. Maybe that although my mysteries are set in Seattle and my protagonist grew up in the city, I am actually a Montana farm girl. I grew up on a dairy farm in Billings, Montana, and moved to Seattle for college. People are often also surprised to learn that I spent the first six years of my career working as a Chemical Engineer. And although I own a yoga studio, I didn’t take my first yoga class until I was around 35 years old. How’s that? Any surprises there?
Mochas, Mysteries and Meows Review: You know a book is fantastic when it's your first read of the new year and you immediately know it's going to be on your "Best Books of the Year" list. Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber was awarded a First Place Blue Ribbon in the Mystery and Mayhem Awards, a division of the Chanticleer Book Reviews writing competitions, and it's easy to see why. It is an outstanding debut with a compelling mystery and a cast of characters sure to win your heart.
Kate is a struggling small business owner of a yoga studio who strikes up an unexpected friendship with a homeless man, George, and his giant German shepherd, Bella, after they make an unwelcome appearance at the front door of her studio to sell newspapers. When George is murdered the police write it off as the typical drug-related street crime because of George's way of life, but Kate knew George did not deal drugs and never would have put his beloved Bella in jeopardy. She takes Bella into her home until a permanent home is found for her, and sets her sights on tracking down a killer.
Loud but lovable Bella is definitely a scene stealer here, but I also felt a strong affinity for Kate. Still writhing from the death of her father with whom she had a strained relationship, she's determined not to let herself fall in love with Bella, who has serious and expensive medical issues, for fear of experiencing the pain of loss again. She's an exceptionally written character and I could certainly identify with her struggles.
One word of warning: there is an extremely hard to read scene in the book where a so-called "trainer" clearly abuses a dog while demonstrating to Kate how he would correct Bella's behavior issues. It is my sincere hope that HE is the murder victim in the next book!!!
I've added the Downward Dog Mysteries to my list of all-time favorite dog series. Bella is a canine heroine that fans of Susan Conant and Laurien Berenson are sure to fall in love with.
Giveaway: Leave a comment (with your email address) for a chance to win an autographed copy of Tracy’s book.
Murder Strikes a PoseYogi Kate becomes a Savasana sleuth in this debut mystery.
(A Downward Dog Mystery)
Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (January 8, 2014)
Paperback: 288 pages
(A Downward Dog Mystery)
Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (January 8, 2014)
Paperback: 288 pages
Yoga instructor Kate Davidson tries to live up to yoga’s Zen-like expectations, but it’s not easy while struggling to keep her small business afloat or dodging her best friend’s matchmaking efforts.
When George, a homeless alcoholic, and his loud, horse-sized German shepherd, Bella, start hawking newspapers outside her studio, Kate attempts to convince them to leave. Instead, the three strike up an unlikely friendship.
Then Kate finds George’s dead body. The police dismiss it as a drug-related street crime, but Kate knows he was no drug dealer. Now she must solve George’s murder and find someone willing to adopt his intimidating companion before Bella is sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer on her trail, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.
About Tracy Weber
Tracy Weber is a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, where she currently lives with her husband and German Shepherd. Weber is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Dog Writers Association of America, and Sisters in Crime. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Murder Strikes a Pose is Weber’s debut.
Author Links:Website: http://tracyweberauthor.com/
AMAZON Book World B & N