Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Whiskers Behind the Words: Virginia Lowell, Author of the Cookie Cutter Shop Mysteries

Animals have been an important part of my life since I was very little. We lived in a small town, which was frequently overrun with strays. The dogs ran in packs, and the cats, of course, wandered on their own. I desperately wanted a kitten. I used to sneak them into the house, feed them tuna, and try to hide them from my parents. You can guess how well that worked, especially since I hadn’t quite grasped the litter box concept. Finally, we got a dachshund puppy, then another, and I loved them dearly. Still, I longed for a kitten.

I often say that I married my husband because he had two young cats. Gotta love a man like that! But I love dogs, too. When I began writing the cookie cutter shop mystery series (Penguin/Berkley), I decided my main character, Olivia (Livie) Greyson needed a dog for companionship. So I gave her a little rescue Yorkshire terrier. Spunky is modeled on my neighbor’s Yorkie, a fearless creature who faced down the biggest black Labrador on the face of the earth! Yorkies have no clue how tiny they are.

Olivia and her best friend since age ten, Maddie Briggs, jointly run The Gingerbread House, a store that specializes in everything cookie, from antique cookie cutters to sparkling sugars. Livie and Maddie are about to tackle their fourth mystery in One Dead Cookie, which releases July 2. At the same time, Maddie is about to marry Lucas Ashford, the handsome and shy owner of Heights Hardware, next door to The Gingerbread House. Party time! Unfortunately, murder threatens to make Maddie and Lucas’s engagement blow-out way too exciting.

So I’ve been thinking… Now that she’s getting married, doesn’t Maddie need a kitty? Maybe two? I know exactly where she could find them: at Chatterley Paws, the town’s no-kill animal shelter/vet clinic. In fact, I know that Chatterley Paws has two tiny kittens right now, one orange-and-white boy and one little tortie girl. I just happen to have a few photos I was thinking of showing to Maddie and Lucas.

Okay, I confess. Those two little creatures are my own constant writing companions, and the photo dates back to when they were kittens and first came to live with us. Let me introduce you to them, and I think you’ll understand why I think they deserve a role in the lives of my characters. Chessie is our orange-and-white boy with one blue eye and one gold. He is big and strong and wishes he were an only cat. But he loves people, especially the ones who pet him and give him treats. Chessie can jump to the top of a bookcase, where he enjoys knocking the knick knacks, one by one, onto the floor below.

Xena is sweet/feisty and smart and beautiful, and, between you and me, she knows it. She also knows she can get just about anything she wants from me. I’ve explained to her, over and over, that I have book deadlines, all to no avail. When she looks up at me with those intense green eyes, I melt. The laptop gets put aside, and Xena curls up on my lap. She is a one-person cat, while Chessie never met a stranger. They both inspire me in their own unique ways. I suspect either one of them could catch a killer, Xena with her intelligence and Chessie with brawn. Together, they would be unstoppable. If only they could get along…

Virginia Lowell lives in Minnesota, where winter is long and cold, which gives her plenty of time to write. She bakes to stay warm.

Visit Virginia and find out more about the Cookie Cutter Shop series at www.virginialowell.com. Hear from Olivia Greyson, Maddie Briggs, and other folks from Chatterley Heights by checking in at www.killercharacters.com on the 24th of each month.

One Dead Cookie, the fourth book in the series, will be available July 2 at bookstores and online. The first book in the series is Cookie Dough or Die. Virginia is hard at work on the fifth book, which will be published in 2014.


Katreader said...

Your cats are precious. I've always wanted a ginger cat, but one hasn't come into my life...yet. My eldest cat, a calico, died recently, so I currently have 3 cats-2 black and 1 grey. I also have a dog, 9 rats, and a horse! We all love cookies!

Virginia Lowell said...

Wow! I wish we had room for more animals. I've always wanted a horse; I read every horse novel in the library when I was a kid. I'm so sorry about your calico. All cats are wonderful, but there's just something about calicos. Keep looking--that ginger cat will come along one of these days. Meanwhile, have a cookie!