VL: I’m delighted that Heather Weidner agreed to an interview. Her most recent publication, “Digging Up Dirt,” appears in To Fetch a Thief. In addition, Heather has published two mystery novels and numerous short stories—and dogs show up frequently!
VL: Is the dog in your story in To Fetch a Thief based at all on your dog?
HW: It is. It’s based on my little female JRT Disney. She’s a bundle of energy, a great companion, and she always likes to explore outside. Thankfully, she’s not dug up anything strange.
VL: Disney is definitely cute! I can understand why you would want to put her in a story. But how did you come up with the actual plot for “Digging Up Dirt”?
HW: My husband is a realtor, and people are always leaving things in houses when they move out. That gave me the idea for the random things (that might not be so random) in the story.
VL: No need for a spoiler alert, but I will say I admired the variety of things left behind and how you tied them together. But back to your passion—I don’t think passion is too strong a word—for dogs. Do any of your other stories (or future stories) involve a canine companion?
HW: They do. In my Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series, my sassy private investigator has a partner, Duncan Reynolds, and Duncan’s best pal is Margaret, the English bulldog. She’s a brown and white log with legs. She has two speeds, slow and napping. But she likes treats, and she’s a great companion.
I’m also working on another cozy mystery, and there is another Jack Russell Terrier in it. Her name is Bijou.
VL: While you are producing stories involving dogs, what do you do with your actual dogs?
HW: There are two dog beds in my office on either side of my desk. If they aren’t roughhousing, then they’re napping.
VL: Most writers are voracious readers. What types of books do you read?
HW: I love all kinds of mysteries, thrillers, history, and biography.
VL: What are you reading now?
HW: I just finished John Grisham’s The Reckoning, and now I’m reading Lee Child’s Past Tense.
VL: What’s your favorite book or movie that has an animal as a central character? Why?
HW: My early favorites were Charlotte’s Web and Where the Red Fern Grows. I have always loved animal stories, and even today, I tend to read mysteries that have pet sidekicks. My favorite mystery authors who include pets are Bethany Blake, Janet Evanovich, Krista Davis, and Libby Klein.
VL: What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now?
HW: I have three TBR piles right now. One’s on my night stand. I have one on a bookcase, and there’s another downstairs in the den. There are always more books than I have time to read. Most of the books in all three piles are mysteries and thrillers. There are a few biographies in the pile.
VL: Based on the locations of your TBR piles, I could probably guess at the answer to this next question, but I’ll ask anyway. Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?
HW: I can read just about anywhere. At home, I like reading on my deck in the early mornings. At night, I like reading in bed with two snuggly Jack Russell Terriers.
As for the writing part of your question, I tend to be a binge writer. At home, I write in my office or on the deck. But I tend to write or proofread whenever I get a free moment, so it could be at lunch at work or in the dentist’s waiting room.
VL: What’s next for you?
HW: I am working on the third novel in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. It’s called Glitter, Glam, and Contraband. I am also working on a new cozy mystery set in Charlottesville, Virginia. I had a nonfiction piece accepted in the Sisters in Crime book marketing anthology, Promophobia, and that will be out next year, along with a short story, “Art Attack,” in the Deadly Southern Charm: A Lethal Ladies Mystery Anthology.
VL: You clearly have a lot going on! Thank you for taking time for this interview.
VL: Thank you, Heather! Congratulations on all you have done so far. No doubt we will see more of your writing in the future, especially Delaney Fitzgerald. Learn more about Heather Weidner below.
Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders are her novels in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her novella “Diggin’ up Dirt” appears in To Fetch a Thief.
She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, and James River Writers.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Pens, Paws, and Claws authors.
Connect with Heather online:
To Fetch a Thief, the first Mutt Mysteries collection, features four novellas that have gone to the dogs. In this howlingly good read, canine companions help their owners solve crimes and right wrongs. These sleuths may be furry and low to the ground, but their keen senses are on high alert when it comes to sniffing out clues and digging up the truth. Make no bones about it, these pup heroes will steal your heart as they conquer ruff villains.
“Hounding the Pavement”
by Teresa Inge
Catt Ramsey has three things on her mind: grow her dog walking service in Virginia Beach, solve the theft of a client’s vintage necklace, and hire her sister Emma as a dog walker. But when Catt finds her model client dead after walking her precious dogs Bella and Beau, she and her own dogs Cagney and Lacey are hot on the trail to clear her name after being accused of murder.
“Diggin’ up Dirt”
by Heather Weidner
Amy Reynolds and her Jack Russell Terrier Darby find some strange things in her new house. Normally, she would have trashed the forgotten junk, but Amy’s imagination kicks into high gear when her nosy neighbors dish the dirt about the previous owners who disappeared, letting the house fall into foreclosure. Convinced that something nefarious happened, Amy and her canine sidekick uncover more abandoned clues in their search for the previous owners.
“Dog Gone it All”
by Jayne Ormerod
Meg Gordon and her tawny terrier Cannoli are hot on the trail of a thief, a heartless one who steals rocks commemorating neighborhood dogs who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But sniffing out clues leads them to something even more merciless…a dead body! There’s danger afoot as the two become entangled in the criminality infesting their small bayside community. And, dog gone it all, Meg is determined to get to the bottom of things.
“This is Not a Dog Park”
by Rosemary Shomaker
“Coyotes and burglaries? That’s an odd pairing of troubles.” Such are Adam Moreland’s reactions to a subdivision’s meeting announcement. He has no idea. Trouble comes his way in spades, featuring a coyote . . . burglaries . . . and a dead body! A dog, death investigation, and new female acquaintance kick start Adam’s listless life frozen by a failed relationship, an unfulfilling job, and a judgmental mother. Events shift Adam’s perspective and push him to act.
Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. She is president of Sister’s in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries and 50 Shades of Cabernet.
Heather Weidner, a member of SinC – Central Virginia and Guppies, is the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Heather lives in Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers, Disney and Riley. She’s been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. Some of her life experience comes from being a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, IT manager, and cop’s kid. She blogs at Pens, Paws, and Claws.
Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.) She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of the Blonds at the Beach Mysteries, The Blond Leading the Blond, and Blond Luck. She has contributed seven short mysteries to various anthologies to include joining with the other To Fetch a Thief authors in Virginia is for Mysteries, Volumes I and II, and 50 Shades of Cabernet.
Rosemary Shomaker writes about the unexpected in everyday life. She’s the woman you don’t notice in the grocery store or at church but whom you do notice at estate sales and wandering vacant lots. In all these places she’s collecting story ideas. Rosemary writes women’s fiction, paranormal, and mystery short stories, and she’s taking her first steps toward longer fiction, so stay tuned. She’s an urban planner by education, a government policy analyst by trade, and a fiction writer at heart. Rosemary credits Sisters in Crime with developing her craft and applauds the organization’s mission of promoting the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers.
These four great authors should be on your horizon.
Where to follow the authors: see the individual bios above for links to their Facebook pages, Twitter, and websites.
Where to Buy To Fetch a Thief
[Warning: This blog talks about the incidence and aftermath of sexual assault and rape.]
Like most readers, I have my habits. In the service of exposing my readers to a wider perspective, I have interviewed Christina Cox, fellow book lover, about a recent read she enjoyed: Any Man by Amber Tamblyn.
VL: How did you come to read Any Man?
CC: I’ve been a fan of Amber Tamblyn for a long time, but not for her writing — for her talents as an actor. When I found out this book was coming out, it piqued my interest immediately. Then I found out she was going to do a reading at Fountain Bookstore (down the road from me), and I knew I had to get it!
VL: Is it typical of the books you read?
CC: Not at all; it’s much more intense than the books I typically read. From its jacket description, you can see why:
A violent serial rapist is on the loose, who goes by the name Maude. She hunts for men at bars, online, at home— the place doesn’t matter, neither does the man. Her victims then must live the aftermath of their assault in the form of doubt from the police, feelings of shame alienation from their friends and family and the haunting of a horrible woman who becomes the phantom on which society projects its greatest fears, fascinations and even misogyny. All the while the police are without leads and the media hound the victims, publicly dissecting the details of their attack.
What is extraordinary is how as years pass these men learn to heal, by banding together and finding a space to raise their voices. Told in alternating viewpoints signature to each voice and experience of the victim, these pages crackle with emotion, ranging from horror to breathtaking empathy.
As bold as it is timely, Any Man paints a searing portrait of survival and is a tribute to those who have lived through the nightmare of sexual assault.
As you can see, it’s a dark premise. It’s shocking to read at some points, but Tamblyn does a really wonderful job of introducing lighter parts when you need them.
VL: What did you like best?
CC: Tamblyn began as a poet, so the book is written as a mix of poetry and prose. The writing is breathtaking, and she does a great job of conveying a lot of information and emotion in fewer words. So many pages gave me chills.
VL: What did you like least?
CC: It was hard to read such an intense book; at times I needed to put it down for something else. But at her Fountain reading, she talked about our society’s history of ignoring survivors of sexual assault/rape or sweeping their stories under the rug. I think this is an important story, and an interesting take considering a woman is the perpetrator.
VL: Would you recommend Any Man to family or friends?
CC: I would (and have), but I would do it with the caveat that it’s very difficult to read in parts. I’m careful with whom I recommend it, because you never know if this story will hit too close to home.
VL: Have you read other books by this author?
Tamblyn has several poetry books under her belt, but I haven’t read them yet. They’re definitely on my list!
Have you read Any Man? What did you think?
It seems like everyone is watching television and movies through streaming services now — especially Netflix. Each of those streaming services boasts a wide array of original shows and movies, and of course some of those are born from books.
So many of those book-to-movie adaptations (or book-to-tv adaptations) are taking the world by storm. Here are a few to check out (keeping in mind I’m not counting comics like Riverdale or The Defenders). These are in alphabetical order by Netflix show/movie name.
A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Alias Grace, based on Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Altered Carbon, based on Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Anne With an E, based on Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Girlboss, based on #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
Hemlock Grove, based on Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
House of Cards, based on House of Cards by Michael Dobbs
Kiss Me First, based on Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach
Mindhunter, based on Mindhunter: Inside The FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas
Orange is the New Black, based on Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Shadowhunters, based on City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Last Kingdom, based on The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell
13 Reasons Why, based on 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
A Wrinkle in Time, based on A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, based on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Lovely Bones, based on The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, based on To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
I’m sure there are movies and shows I’ve forgotten. Don’t see your favorite on the list? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook!
Wonder Woman for Breadth
Wonder Woman for Social Justice
Wonder Woman for Achievement
- A PEN/Malamud Award
- American Library Association honors for young adult literature and for children’s literature
- Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Lifetime Achievement Award
- The Maxine Cushing Gray Fellowship for Writers from the Washington Center for the Book
- The Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation
- National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (a lifetime Achievement award)
- Gandalf Award Grand Master of Fantasy
- Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association
- Induction into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
- Grand Master of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
- North American Society for Utopian Studies Lyman Tower Sargent Distinguished Scholar Award
- 5 Locus
- 4 Nebula
- 2 Hugo
- 1 World Fantasy Award.
- 4 awards in short fiction
- 19 Locus awards voted by magazine subscribers
- National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
- Finalist for 10 Mythopoeic Awards
- Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
- Hugo Award for Best Related Work
- PLUS: other annual “Year’s Best” awards
Wonder Woman for Productivity
- They explore malevolent or wicked characters, deeds, or phenomena.
- They arouse feelings of fear, shock, or disgust as well as the sense of the uncanny.
- They are intense.
- They contain scary and/or shocking and scintillating plot twists and story reveals.
- They immerse readers in the macabre.
- How to write horror using a strong, pervasive tone.
- The importance of reading widely in your genre.
- Giving wicked characters credible motives
- Using the core elements of tragedy
- Writing scary novels by tapping into common human fears.
- The difference between terror and horror.
- Shirley Jackson: Use your own fear.
- R.I. Stine: Get inside your narrator’s head.
- Tananarive Due: Don’t worry about being “legitimate.”
- Ray Bradbury: Take your nonsense seriously.
- Anne Rice: Go where the pain is.
- Clive Barker: The scariest thing is feeling out of control.
- Linda Addison: Just start writing and fix it later.
- Neil Gaiman: Tell your own story.
- Helen Oyeyemi: Keep it real (kind of).