TTS: We would like to welcome Tracy Weber back to the blog. Last time Tracy was here, she did a guest blog! You can check that out here ( Kate Davidson’s Guide to Yoga ( With a Little Murder on the Side )). Tracy, it’s great to have you here again to promote your new Downward Dog Mystery!
Tracy: Thank you so much for having me! I’m delighted to be back on The Top Shelf!
TTS: You called your books The Downward Dog Mysteries. The most obvious reason as to why is because Kate Davidson is a yoga instructor and she has a dog named Bella. Is there another reason for the name that readers may not realize?
Tracy: The name actually came to me one day after a workout, which is evidently when I get my most creative ideas. (Note to self: Work out more!) It seemed appropriate for a number of reasons: the yoga connection, of course, and the fact that the series involves a crazy German shepherd. But I really liked it because it symbolized Bella’s plight in the first book. She was definitely a “down dog” at the beginning of the series. Of course now, she’s the queen of Kate’s life!
TTS: You make writing these absolutely crazy situations look easy. Some might even think there’s some truth to them. Have you ever found yourself in a crazy situation and thought to yourself “I have to have this happen to Kate!”
Tracy: Ahem. Can I plead the fifth? Most of the crazy dog stories are somewhat autobiographical. As a 115-pound woman who owns a 100-pound German shepherd with impulse control issues, well, let’s just say I find myself landing face-first in the mud more often than I care to admit. The scene in A Killer Retreat in which Kate falls on her head? Yep. Yours truly. I haven’t discovered any dead bodies recently, but when I do something silly or the universe plays a practical joke on me, I often think “I need to write that down.”
TTS: The last time you were here, you said that Kate is a lot like yourself. Are there bits of yourself, your friends or family in your other characters?
Tracy: Not really. I go out of my way to not write about people I know, since I’ll inevitably kill them off or make them a murder suspect. It just seems mean. Bella is based on my own German shepherd, Tasha, however. She can’t read, so she’ll never know that I’m sharing her secrets. Please don’t tell her!
TTS: When I first met your characters in Murder Strikes a Pose, I fell in love with them and when reading A Killer Retreat, it was like visiting old friends. I adore them even when I’m supposed to be mad at them. Was that the intention? How much of a challenge was it to come up with these characters that your readers seem to be very invested in.
Tracy: Thank you. I adore my fictional friends, and I hope that my readers love them, even when they don’t act the way I’d like them to. But I have to say, coming up with my characters isn’t a challenge for me. They pop into my head and refuse to leave. I often feel like a cross between a medium and a schizophrenic. I’m merely the vessel through which Kate and her friends communicate.
TTS: Who is the fan favorite besides Bella? We know everyone loves Bella!
Tracy: People love Rene. She’s the kind of person you’d like to hate, with her great looks and ability to eat anything she wants. But there’s something genuine about Rene. Her warped sense of humor that is impossible not to love.
TTS: A Killer Retreat seemed to run fast and come together quickly. Was it easier for you to write than Murder Strikes a Pose?
Tracy: That’s a tough question to answer. Murder Strikes a Pose was a true labor of love. The story had rattled around inside my head for so long that when I finally sat down to write it, the first draft poured out of me in three weeks. A Killer Retreat’s first draft, on the other hand, felt like a slug fest. Meaning I sat and typed for what felt like an eternity. But the first draft was actually pretty good, unlike the first draft of Murder Strikes a Pose. So they were both easy in some ways and difficult in others.
TTS: Do fans ever give you ideas for crazy situations to put Kate and Bella in?
Tracy: Yes, but I rarely use them. That doesn’t mean that the ideas aren’t great, just that they aren’t my creations. Kate tells me her own stories, and so far, her path is unique to her. The one exception is a crow that plays a major role in my third book, Karma’s a Killer. Blackie—the crow in the book—was created at the request of readers who had read about my dog Tasha’s love affair with three neighborhood crows.
TTS: Okay here’s a scenario: Kate is trying to answer interview questions for a blogger who is asking about the ins and outs of Viniyoga. Somewhere along the line she got a cat that Bella actually likes and gets along with. Weirder things have happened! The cat keeps reaching out and poking her persistently and she knows if she gives into the cat that’s going to be a good hour of her time wasted. Cats are never sated!!! What would she do? I’m asking for a friend… Yep that’s it a friend!
Tracy: Kate would close her laptop and play with her kitty. (Though I’m sure she’d complain about it!) Kate knows how fragile life can be and that relationships are important. She screwed up with her father and gives Michael a run for his money sometimes, but she would never neglect Bella, or any kitty that may enter their lives. An hour spent loving on a furry creature is an hour spent focusing on what’s most important.
And, for the record, Tasha knocks my hands off the keyboard when she wants my attention. I give in. Every time. 😉
TTS: There’s a scene in A Killer Retreat where Kate is surveying her first yoga class at the retreat and she says it seems like nobody has any back issues or anything. How would a yoga class go for someone with severe back issues where their movement is limited? For example I have no lumbar curve also known as Flatback Syndrome.
Tracy: Integrating students with physical challenges is difficult in a class like the one Kate teaches at Elysian Springs. At her studio, she would suggest that an injured student take private instruction or sign up for a therapeutic class. I’ve had people in my therapeutic classes—even in my yoga teacher training—with significant physical limitations. In fact, I have a relatively severe back and neck issue myself.
Yoga can help almost any individual, regardless of their physical condition. The key is picking the appropriate teacher and moving only in a pain-free range of motion.
TTS: Okay last question. Better make it a good one! If there was ever a spinoff series from The Downward Dog Mysteries who in your mind would it be that got one and why?
Tracy: This one’s easy! I actually have a spin-off series in mind involving Dale Evans (the “goat lawyer” in A Killer Retreat. Dale is such a cool, quirky guy, and Orcas is a gorgeous setting. Besides, I’ve wanted goats for years. I might have to move to Orcas Island and raise goats for research. Think my hubby will go along with that? 😉
TTS: Once again, I would like to thank Tracy for stopping by! I’m totally looking forward to my next visit with Kate, Bella, and the gang! I miss them already!
Tracy: Thank you so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure!
Synopsis: When Kate Davidson gets an offer to teach yoga classes to wedding guests at the Elysian Springs resort, she jumps at the opportunity, even though it means being forced to endure the wedding ceremony of the center’s two caretakers.
Avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate’s problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, shortly after a loud, public (and somewhat embarrassing) fight with Kate. The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she’s forced to team up with boyfriend Michael, best friend Rene, and German shepherd sidekick Bella to find the real killer. But they’ll have to solve the murder before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime–behind bars.
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