Thank you so much for having me today on Writers and Other Animals. It’s always a pleasure!
Tell us about your pets, or other animals that inspire you.
My true love is a dog named Tasha, and she’s been the subject of many blog articles. She is a ten-year-old, 100-pound German shepherd who is much like Bella, the German shepherd in my series. I have also been owned by many cats throughout my life, but I have been catless since my kitty Maggie passed on recently.
I have to say, however, that my writing is inspired by many animals. Bandit the Jack Russell Terrier in A Killer Retreat is loosely modeled after a cutie-pie Jack Russell terrier owned by one of my yoga students. My next book, Karma’s a Killer, includes a pigeon named Mister Feathers, a crow named Blackie, and a barred owl named Spook, all of which were modeled after birds I’ve “met” in real life. Animals inspire me every day!
Do you try to keep your characters relatively unchanged throughout your mystery seris, or do you try to develop them over time?
People in real life change as a result of what happens to them. Why would characters in a mystery series be any different? I can’t imagine an amateur sleuth that could be touched by murder yet not impacted by it. I don’t have an agenda for my characters, but they do transform and learn over time. Kate, in particular, has a character arc that will span at least six books, maybe more.
In my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, Kate struggles to make peace with her father’s death and to forgive herself for her actions in his last days. As a result, she shuts herself off from the world and refuses to give herself the compassion she gives to others. She is brash and sometimes lashes out at those she loves most, at least in part because she unconsciously wants to keep people at a distance.
By book 2, A Killer Retreat, she has begun to allow people into her life, but she still has significant attachment issues and she often stumbles over her own weaknesses. By the end of A Killer Retreat she’s at the precipice of major change. In book 3, Karma’s a Killer, she confronts her darker self and starts to take steps to overcome it.
Kate would love to right all the wrongs of the world, but ultimately she realizes the only person she can change is herself.
How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
My characters show me their stories. I literally see scenes as if I were viewing them through Kate’s eyes. When the scenes get clear enough, the story writes itself. Characters don’t always reveal themselves fully to me when I start writing, but by the end of the first draft, they are usually pretty solid. Likewise, the plots form in my heart long before I write them down. I simply transcribe what’s already in my head and call it a first draft.
After that draft is complete, I outline what I have already written and use that outline to identify plot holes, time line issues, and inconsistencies. I “fix” the first draft based on that outline, and then refine the story from there.
Clues appear after the first draft, timelines get solidified, and details change. But the characters—their likes and dislikes, their personalities and quirks—reveal themselves to me in the first draft and rarely change significantly.
Tell us a bit about your latest book
A Killer Retreat is a lot of fun. Yoga teacher Kate Davidson has been given the opportunity to stay at Elysian Springs, a vegan resort on picturesque Orcas Island, Washington. All she has to do is teach yoga to the wedding guests of the center’s two caretakers. The trip seems like a perfect, much-needed vacation until Kate’s boyfriend Michael starts hinting that he’s ready to pop the question and her best friend shows up unannounced and hiding a secret.
Then there’s the loud, public—and somewhat embarrassing—argument Kate has with Monica, the bride-to-be’s stepmother. When Monica’s body is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, Kate becomes the investigators’ number one suspect. Kate will have to solve Monica’s murder quickly, or her next teaching gig may last a lifetime—behind bars.
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I recently turned my third book, Karma’s a Killer, in to my editor at Midnight Ink. In Karma’s a Killer, Kate agrees to teach Doga (yoga for dogs) at a fundraiser for a local animal rescue. While there, she witnesses a violent argument between two strangers. One of the strangers turns out to be a person from Kate’s past who has been missing for over three decades. The second stranger is murdered.
Kate, Michael, Rene, and Bella each have a role in solving the murder, but that’s not the only mystery in the story. The biggest enigma Kate struggles to understand is herself. I don’t want to give anything away, so you’ll have to read the story to find out the specifics. Suffice it to say, at least two of Kate’s neuroses will make a lot more sense by the end of this book.
As always, animals play major roles. Not only Bella, but her nemesis Bandit, the birds I mentioned earlier, goats, and even cats. Researching this story was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to share it with my readers.
Unfortunately, the publishing industry moves slowly, so Karma’s a Killer won’t be released until January, 2016. In the meantime, I plan to start book number four, tentatively titled A Twisted Death.
Where can we learn more about you and your books?
So many places! Getting discovered by readers is extremely difficult, so I try to have a presence in as many venues as possible. My top two recommendations are my author website http://tracyweberauthor.com/ and my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tracywe. You can learn about my books and my writing on the author page, but you get to know me, my dog, my hubby, and all of our eccentricities on Facebook. Any way I can connect with readers is awesome!
Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. The second book in her series, A Killer Retreat, was released January, 2015 by Midnight Ink.
Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.
Visit her at TracyWeberAuthor.com, friend her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tracywe, or e-mail her at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com