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

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Catching Several Birds with One Book

by Sheila Webster Boneham

The manuscript of Shepherd's CrookAnimals in Focus Mystery #4 (coming October 2015) is now safely in the hands of Terri Bischoff, my editor at Midnight Ink, and I'm taking a (very short) break from a four-year writing marathon. Among other things, I'm catching up on my reading, and that includes listening to audio books - including the Audible recordings of some of my own books (I'll be blogging soon about that experience). For now, thought, I've just finished listening to The Money Bird, book #2 in the series, and I thought I would re-visit that book here. 

The Money Bird begins when 50 something photographer cum accidental amateur sleuth Janet MacPhail sees her friend Tom's dog, Drake, retrieve something mysterious during a retriever training session. As in the first book, the setting for the story includes an animal-oriented activity taking place in northeastern Indiana. I've been involved with animal sports since I was a kid -- first with horses, then with dogs -- and I've been writing about dogs and cats for nearly 20 years, so I know this world and its many characters well. 

I know too that there's more to the world of animals, even those we bring into our homes as companions, than sometimes meets the public eye. Although my first goal as a mystery writer is to spin an entertaining story, I also hope to tickle my readers' curiosity bones. I believe that fiction can raise people's consciousness without beating them over the head, which is why my mysteries all quietly raise issues for consideration. In The Money Bird, the issue is wildlife trafficking, specifically the ugly but lucrative trade in tropical birds, many of them members of endangered species. 

So in The Money Bird we have dogs -- lots of dogs, many of them wet! -- and Leo, Janet's heroic little cat, and some birds who shouldn't be flying around a lake in northern Indiana. And aside from all this, Janet has to continue to meet her normal challenges: she's running a business, dealing on many levels with her mother's dementia, and trying to sort out just what she wants her relationship with Tom to be. That's a lot of birds - let's hope Janet has a big net!


Sheila Webster Boneham is an award-winning writer who writes across genres and interacts across species. She is the author of the best-selling Animals in Focus mystery series from Midnight Ink and of seventeen nonfiction books, including Rescue Matters: How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals (Alpine Publications, 2009, updated 2013). Sheila also writes creative nonfiction, literary fiction, and poems, and she teaches writing classes and offers individual mentoring for aspiring writers. Find her online at www.sheilaboneham.com, on Facebook, or by e-mailSheila runs the Writers & Other Animals blog and the companion Facebook group. Sheila holds a PhD in folklore from Indiana University and MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast Program, University of Southern Maine.  
Sheila lives in North Carolina with her husband Roger and Lily the Lab (that's her, not Sheila, in the photo!). 

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