...for readers who love animals, and animal lovers who read!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Animals in Focus Mysteries ~ Did You Know...?*

by Sheila Webster Boneham

The third book in my Animals in Focus series is scheduled to be released in September 2014 by Midnight Ink, and the next book in the series is underway. I thought this would be a good time to share a few tidbits about the series. (Don't worry if you haven't read them -- no spoilers here!). So here we go....

  1. The people in the books are not real people. Yes, yes, you're sure that person belongs to your dog-training or cat-fanciers' club, but s/he doesn't. Really. (Do be nice to me, though....)
    Jay, the protagdog in the series, is based on my
    lovely Aussie, Jay, shown here competing in open
    obedience in Indiana in 2004.

  2. The animals in the books are as real as can be! Now, this is fiction, so no one dog or cat or bird in the book is exactly like any one real-life dog or cat or bird. But Jay, the "protagdog," and Leo, the "leading cat," and all the others never do anything that I haven't seen or heard of an animal doing.
  3. Janet MacPhail, who tells the tales, never intended to be an amateur sleuth. She was perfectly happy photographing animals, landscapes, and occasionally people, and wrestling with the challenges of being 50-something. But then people started dying....          
    Janet MacPhail, 50-something animal lover and
    amateur sleuth, is a professional photographer. 

  4. Janet's dog Jay is an Australian Shepherd. Yes, Aussies really are that energetic and smart. Really. 
    My muses -- Australian Shepherd Jay (1997-2012) and 
    Labrador Retriever Lily (lying on my feet as I type)

  5. There are lots of retrievers in The Money Bird (2013). Retrievers come in many flavors, as you can see in the book -- Labrador, Golden, Chesapeake Bay, Flat-coated, Curly-coated, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling. Besides the "official" retrievers, there are other breeds designed to collect game birds from water and land.                                                                 
    This is my Annie (1993-2006),
    doing that wet retriever thing!
  6. Winning in obedience competition really can come down to half points, as it does in Drop Dead on Recall (2012), and some people are very serious about training and winning. But I've never heard of anyone actually committing murder at an obedience trial. Still....
  7. Dogs do not have a corner on exciting sports like agility. Wait 'til you see what Leo is up to in Catwalk! (But you do have to wait until September 2014. Sorry.)                                   
    Janet's cat, Leo, is an orange tabby like my own Leo and 
    Malcolm, shown in the top photo with Raja, my first Lab.
    All the cats of my life have inspired fictional Leo's behaviors,
    including Kitty, shown here studying up.


  8. You younger readers - listen up! People in their 50s, 60s, 70s + really do have lives, complete with hopes and dreams, and physical, mental, and emotional activities of all kinds. So pay attention to Janet and her friends and lovers. (Woops! Just one of the latter at the moment!) You might learn something. 
  9. I made up the endangered parrot species in The Money Bird, but a lot of real-life birds and animals are at risk from trafficking, habitat destruction, and other factors. My hope is that the limited information in the book will encourage people to learn more, and behave accordingly. Fiction is more than entertainment - especially when dogs come to the rescue!                                                                                                                                                                       
  10. When you buy my books from Pomegranate Books, I will gleefully autograph your copies of Drop Dead on Recall and The Money Bird, or my in-print nonfiction books, including Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals (Alpine, 2009) for the reader of your choice. Click here to order now!

So there you have it. What else would you like to know? 

Drop Dead on Recall won the Maxwell Award for Fiction in the 2012 Dog Writers of America Writing Competition, and was named one of the Ten Best Pet Books of 2012 by NBCPetside blog. Obedience can be deadly!
The Money Bird is the second book in the series - released last September by publisher Midnight Ink. There's nothing friendlier - or more courageous - than a wet dog!

Watch for Catwalk, coming in September 2014. Because agility isn't just for dogs anymore!
Sheila's books are are available in the usual places and forms -- paperback, ebooks, large print, and Audible. If your local bookseller doesn't have them in stock, they can order them, or you can find them online or HERE.

*An earlier version of this post appeared at sheilaboneham.com


  1. Point # 8. I gave up agility a few years ago because our current dogs were having more fun with dock diving and disc dogs. Two year old border collie seems to love agility so in my 60's, I'm back in weekly agility classes with him. Our dogs and their activities keep us young!

    1. Yay, Barb! And yes, they certainly do. Thanks for commenting.