Meow, my guest today is author Tracy Weber!
Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series. The first book in the series, Murder Strikes a Pose, won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and was nominated for the Agatha award for Best First Novel.
A certified yoga therapist, Tracy is the owner of Whole Life Yoga, a Seattle yoga studio, as well as the creator and director of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program. She loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any way possible.
Tracy and her husband Marc 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.
Karma’s a Killer is her third novel. For more information on Tracy and the Downward Dog Mysteries, visit her author website: http://TracyWeberAuthor.com/
· Tell us a little about your background:
I grew up on a dairy farm in Billings, Montana and “temporarily” moved to Seattle for college in 1982. Almost three-and-a-half decades later, I’m still here. My husband Marc was the first male I encountered while moving into my dorm at the University of Washington. I married him fourteen years later.
I received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1987 and a Masters of Business Administration in 1993. My husband says I have career ADD. I’ve worked as a chemical engineer, an organizational development consultant, a high tech manager, a career coach and a yoga teacher. Writing is my newest passion.
· Tell us a bit about the Downward Dog mysteries. What inspired it?
The idea came to me on a rainy evening about five years ago, while in the middle of a brutal workout at my favorite health club. I was pedaling away, reading a Susan Conant novel to distract myself from the evil exercise bike, when a quote from Black Ribbon about crazy dog people made me burst out loud laughing. I knew I’d found my author soul mate. Someone who truly got me.
I went home, looked her up on the web, and stumbled across a site about cozy mysteries. As I read about hundreds of other wonderful cozy series, I began to wonder: What would happen if a yoga teacher with a crazy dog like mine got mixed up in murder? Kate Davidson and Bella popped into my head a few days later. The rest is history.
· How do you “get to know” your characters
My characters reveal themselves to me as I write. Some, such as Bella (the German shepherd in my series) are loosely based on animals and people from my real life. Most, like Kate (my yoga teacher/sleuth protagonist) take shape in my mind over time. I get to know them much like I’d get to know any other friend. Minor characters are tougher. Sometimes I write descriptions and back stories for them. Most of the time, I don’t. In many cases, I come up with minor ideas for these characters or picture them in my mind. Then I do Google Image searches. The images and websites that come up inform my understanding of those characters.
· How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I use a combination approach. My stories reveal themselves to me as I write, which means I never outline before I begin working on a book. Who has time to outline when you’ve got characters like Kate and Bella harassing you to hurry up and write them?
I write the first draft by the seat of my pants, then I sit down and get serious about plot, red herrings, and consistency. While I write the second draft, I outline what I’ve already written and identify plot holes and inconsistencies. I try to fix those in the third draft. After that, it’s only twenty-seven more drafts until the finished product!
· Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character, character, character. But then again, according to the yoga teachings, our character is defined by the actions we take and our reactions to the world around us, and isn’t that plot? This question makes my head spin. ;-)
· What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Finding the time to write while still working at my day job. And believe me, there will always be a day job. Most authors I know make a very little from their writing.
· What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I recently finished the fourth Downward Dog Mystery, A Fatal Twist. I’m currently researching and daydreaming about the fifth book. I’m also working on a proposal for a beginners’ meditation book, and I have three (!!!) more mystery series rattling around in my head.
· What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I’m lucky. I own my own business, so I’m able to work any eighteen hours a day I want. Seriously, sometimes it feels that way. My writing ebbs and flows based on the other competing priorities of my life. Sometimes several weeks will go by without my having time to write a word. Other times I write nonstop. I’m most creative late at night, which drives my husband crazy. When I’m deeply immersed in writing, I probably dedicate thirty hours or more to my novels. Blogs and other writing are on top of that.
· If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
Hmm…I don’t really use books to develop the writing craft, as that’s not my learning style. I know I’d need the Chicago Manual of Style and a great thesaurus. Other than that, I’ve wanted to re-read Stephen King’s The Dead Zone for awhile, so I guess I’ll say that.
· What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Don’t give up! Writing is a TOUGH business. No one gets published without facing rejection. When I was trying to land an agent, I allowed myself twenty-four hours to feel bad about every rejection, then I forced myself to do something proactive. Send out another letter, connect with another author, write another page.
You can’t please everyone, and yet when you write, you so desperately want to. (At least I do.) Just keep writing what you love and know that your work isn’t defined by what any one person thinks of it.
· What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I left a six-figure senior management job at Microsoft to start a yoga studio. I’ve been broke ever since. ;-)
· What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I live in the city right now, but I have a dream of moving to the country in the next year or two where I can have dogs, goats, pigs, and chickens. Hubby is allergic to all things furry, so he and I are negotiating about that.
· What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
I always like to talk about my most recent work. My newest is Karma’s a Killer.
Karma’s a Killer is the third book in the Downward Dog Mystery series. This story is special to me, because my yoga teacher/sleuth Kate solves not only the murder of an animal rights activist, but the mystery of her own childhood.
At the start of the novel, Kate overhears an argument between two animal rights protesters (Dharma and Raven) at a fundraiser for DogMa—a local animal rescue. Later that day, Kate learns that Dharma is the mother who abandoned her thirty years ago. When Dharma is arrested for Raven’s murder, Kate, her best friend Rene, and her German shepherd Bella can’t help but try to prove Dharma’s innocence. In doing so, Kate unveils clues to her own past. But will she solve either mystery before the killer strikes again?
· Where can we learn more about you and your work?
Check out my author website: http://tracyweberauthor.com/.
Just for Fun:
· Night or Day? Day
· Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Can I take the 5th? I love both, but it’s dog. ;-)
· Beach or Pool? Beach
· Steak or salad? Salad (I’m vegetarian, after all.)
· Favorite Drink? Diet Mountain Dew
· Favorite Book? Pretty much any dog-related mystery.
· Favorite TV Series? Buffy the Vampire Slayer
· Favorite Movie? This is a tough one. I don’t really have a favorite. But I remember really loving Magnolia.
· Favorite Actor: George Clooney
· Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock
· Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
· Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii
· Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Helen Keller. I have been impressed with her since I was a child.
· If I had just one wish, it would be that my dog, Tasha, would live forever
· If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be my dog, Tasha. No one’s ever been more loved!
Thanks Tracy! Here’s where you can find her:
· Website: http://tracyweberauthor.com/
· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tracywe
· E-mail: Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com
· Monthly Newsletter: http://tracyweberauthor.com/newsletter.html
Reader Giveaway! Win your choice of any of the books in the Downward Dog Mysteries, autographed by Tracy Weber.
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