ABOUT THE BOOKSomebody killed arrogant dog trainer Steve Beamus at bucolic Winding Hill farm. And pet sitter Daphne Templeton's sister is the prime suspect. What can Daphne do but team up with a wise basset hound and an exuberant one-eared Chihuahua to clear her sister's name - before handsome, enigmatic Detective Jonathan Black sends Piper to jail?
INTERVIEW WITH BETHANY BLAKE
Bethany, what do you think is more important – characters or plot?
I think characters are more important than plot. I’ve read all of the Martha Grimes mysteries featuring Richard Jury and Melrose Plant, and I honestly couldn’t tell you any of the plots – although I enjoyed them at the time. But what really draws me to the books are the interactions between Jury, Plant, Vivian Rivington, and the rest of the recurring cast. The same is true for Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen mysteries and dozens of other series. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t read an author who skimped on plot. But I have to pick character over plot.
Do you have any secret talents?
I am a great parallel parker. My driver’s ed teacher, Mr. Czap, taught me a “formula” that I’ve used for nearly forty years. If you need to park an SUV in a tight spot in Manhattan when traffic is crazy, call me!
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I was a pre-teen tax collector. Seriously. My mom was the elected tax collector in my hometown, and every summer she would recruit me to help alphabetize, collate, and mail the bills. It was a huge job, because nothing was computerized. Then, when people started paying, I would sit at a desk like a junior account and accept their checks, then diligently stamp and initial the receipts. If the day ended a penny off, that meant spending the evening combing through receipts to find the mistake. The job taught me to pay attention to detail. I also gained great respect for my mom. She didn’t want to do the job, either, but she had to help support our family.
What scares you the most?
Turbulence. I love to travel, but I have the worst luck with flights. Once, I was on this incredibly bumpy flight from Chicago to Philadelphia, and most of us were pretty scared. Then the captain abruptly announced, “Prepare for landing.” It seemed early to me – and apparently I wasn’t alone. A woman a few rows ahead of me shrieked, “It’s an hour early! We’re crashing!” Everyone freaked out – until this calm man asked, “Lady. Did you remember to change your watch to Eastern standard time?” Rather embarrassing for those of who were screaming.
What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
I daydream. It’s like a hobby for me. I tell my kids that I’m never bored. If I’m stuck waiting at, say, a doctor’s office, I’ll go into a world I’ve created – maybe Sylvan Creek, from the Lucky Paws books. Then I’ll start imagining a scene with Daphne and her handsome nemesis, Detective Jonathan Black, or her best friend, quirky Moxie Bloom. I guess I’m basically writing without paper.
What would you name your autobiography?
Are You SURE That Was Today? Because I’m always asking people that question. Although my New Year’s resolution was to log everything in my Google calendar, so I’m getting a little better.
Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Daphne is disorganized, just like me. She never remembers to put gas in her old VW, and the calendar that floats around her van is from five years ago. She also has trouble saying “no,” when it comes to taking in strays.
What is the most daring thing you've done?
I traveled around India with no plan, relying largely on people I barely knew to take me places and put me up. I slept in a Red Cross shelter, an abandoned hospital filled with feral dogs, and this one place... I’m still not sure what it was. The bathroom consisted of a pipe sticking out of a wall, dripping onto a cement floor. My adventures overseas are echoed in my character, Daphne. She’s always hinting at things that went awry during her world travels.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I used to produce a cable TV show for a state senator in Pennsylvania. One day, we were shooting footage along a stream, and I tripped and face-planted into about six inches of mud. I was covered, face to toes. It happened in front of the crew, the senator, and some dignitary who was leading our tour. I remember that my coat had cute corduroy cuffs, and one of my first thoughts was, “Well, the mud’s never coming out of THAT fabric!” The worst part: I couldn’t change until the day was over. I had to tour a mushroom farm with dried mud in my hair.
Sounds like a scene for a book! Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
It’s in my hometown of Montoursville, Pennsylvania. It was one of the first places I was allowed to go alone, on my bike. I would ride there at least once a week in the summer. I remember when I graduated from the picture book room to the wire spinning rack that held paperbacks like The Red Pony. I can still smell the musty, sweet odor of the old books and even more ancient building.
What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
The first picture of my dog, Daisy, aka “Big Pup.” It was posted on a rescue site, and she’s looking so mournfully and hopefully into the camera that she stole my heart. My kids will jokingly complain that they never make the cut, on my desktop. But they can’t deny that Daisy is pretty adorable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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