At a time when the publishing industry, and readers, seem to demand sequels (if not series) of books they enjoy, I defied convention last week in releasing The Mountain Man’s Dog, which features different characters, a different setting, and even a bit of a shift in genre and style. Surprised fans of Lying in Judgment have asked me why.
Love, that’s why.
Among the best advice I’ve gotten as a writer is to write about my passions. (Among the worst: “Write what you know.” Bleh. There’s a recipe for some lifeless prose.) The Mountain Man’s Dog merges many things that I love: dogs, mysteries and thrillers, romance, and natural settings.
When I committed to publishing at least one book this year, Lying in Judgment was closest to ready and absorbed most of my writing passion for the past decade, so it came first. But right around that same time, I lost my rescue Aussie, Georgia, to cancer. I’d lost a previous Aussie the same way ten years ago, and my first pup to old age. Losing a dog, particularly a rescue, digs a hole in one’s life larger than any the hound ever dug in my yard. It was then that I committed to making sure that The Mountain Man’s Dog would be my second published novel.
Rescue dogs tend to burrow deeper into pet owners’ hearts, in my experience. Rescues seem extra loving, even by dog standards. Perhaps they’re just grateful to have a real home instead of a cage in a shelter, surrounded by a few hundred other nervous, barking canines. Maybe they know their lives are on the upswing and that their human is responsible for that. Whatever the reason, they’ve been the most loyal, devoted dogs I’ve cared for.
And that’s saying something. My partner’s Golden, Oliver, is a very lovable and loving critter. But he’s not “mine,” and he knows it. However much he makes me laugh – which is a lot – the intensity of a rescue just isn’t there.
Lucky, the star canine in The Mountain Man’s Dog, brings all of the rescue dog adventures into Lehigh’s life (and then some). While nervous at first (SPOILER ALERT!), she quickly becomes Lehigh’s best buddy, and plays a key role in the book’s climax. She seems to adopt Lehigh, rather than the other way around.
That’s the charm of rescue dogs, to me. They want to take care of you. They bond quickly, and fiercely, and while they can remain wary for a long time, they reward their owners with lavish, extended affection. (Even when that’s not terribly convenient, like when you’re eating breakfast or trying to relax undisturbed on the porch with a cup of coffee.)
It seemed to me that the least I could do in thanks was to feature a rescue dog in a book.
Or, you know, in a series. Because, readers and industry, you’ve convinced me. The Mountain Man’s Dog is Book One of The Mountain Man Mysteries. Expect Book Two in 2017.