Please welcome Sue Owens Write, author of the Beanie and Cruiser mysteries!
Thank you for these great questions. You really made me think!
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
My perfect day is one spent with my basset hounds, preferably at Lake Tahoe. They have always been my best friends and long-eared muses.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?
The phrase, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” has been a driving force in my life. You never know what you can accomplish until you try. Ignore the naysayers and shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?
The Brontë novels, Anne LaMott’s “Bird by Bird, and works by Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King. King’s nonfiction book, On Writing is one of the best I’ve read about the subject, humorous and candid. Last but not least, Margaret Sutton’s Judy Bolton Mysteries, which I avidly read as a child and made me want to write a mystery of my own.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Yes. I prefer hearing classical music most of the time, but I wrote my historical thriller, The Secret of Bramble Hill, while listening to music by the Irish group, Clannad. I also listened to the edgy soundtrack from “Basic Instinct” and music by composer Bernard Hermann (of Hitchcock’s “Psycho” fame) while writing suspenseful passages in my mysteries.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Yum. Chocolate! It would have be dark chocolate, my favorite and also the color of my dogs’ eyes. My naughtiest basset hound, Daisy, who inspired Calamity, Cruiser’s mischievous new canine sidekick in the latest Beanie and Cruiser books, once devoured an entire pound of fudge one Christmas that was left under the tree by accident. When I missed my gift, I found the little culprit hiding in her bed, fudge smeared on her muzzle and all over the bed. Mystery solved. Miraculously, Daisy suffered no ill effects from it, but I always thought her eyes were a little darker brown afterward. A similar incident is included in the fourth book in my Beanie and Cruiser Mysteries, Braced for Murder, when Calamity discovers Beanie’s secret stash of chocolate.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
The Beanie and Cruiser mysteries are inspired by my experiences at Lake Tahoe, and this book arose from the distress I felt over clear-cutting activity near our family’s cabin and also the Angora firestorm, which was caused by a runaway campfire on June 24, 2007. I was visiting Tahoe with my two basset hounds, Daisy and Bubba Gump, and we had to evacuate. It was a terrifying experience I’ll never forget. I’ve been going to Tahoe since childhood, but that was the first time I realized, “Oh, yeah. I’m in a forest, and forests can catch fire.” Too bad those careless campers didn’t realize it, too.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Recurrent themes in the Beanie and Cruiser Mysteries are the environmental issues that impact the Tahoe Basin, animal welfare, and dogs, dogs, dogs; basset hounds, in particular. My books also tend to have a paranormal aspect to them. Ghosts may materialize now and then.
Tell us about your main character. Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Elsie MacBean is as astute as Sherlock Holmes (she even wears a deerstalker cap in the cold Tahoe winters). She’s very observant and especially good at reading people, assessing a crime scene, and solving a puzzle when no one else can. She loves nature and animals and lives a solitary life at Lake Tahoe with her canine companions, Cruiser and Calamity, much like Emily Brontë did with her faithful Staffordshire terrier, Keeper, at the isolated Brontë parsonage on the bleak Yorkshire moors in Haworth, England. Like Emily, she’s a romantic and loves the solemnity of her woodland retreat and all the wild, free flora and fauna that inhabit it. Beanie’s also a strong Native American woman like Pocohantas, whose ancestor also was a tribal chief. Like her, Beanie is torn between the worlds of the indigenous Washoe Indians and Whites and would risk her own life to save another’s (especially that of a dog).
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Agatha Christie, Daphne DuMaurier, Maeve Binchy, Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, and P.D. James.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on the sixth Beanie and Cruiser mystery, my memoir, and a collection of essays about pets.
Sue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs. She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody Murder, Sirius About Murder, Embarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books.
Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?, 150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog Fancy, Mystery Scene, AKC GAZETTE, Fido Friendly, The Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables. Her newest novels are The Secret of Bramble Hill and Ears for Murder.
Buy Ears for Murder on Amazon
Buy Bramble Hill on Amazon