Over the last two weeks I visited my children, their spouses, and ten grandchildren in Arizona, arriving there from Illinois. When I flew back home last week, my body said, “Oh, thank you for the 60% humidity and Midwestern-recognizable pollen.” April in Arizona does not do wonders for my allergies and asthma with the dust in the air and the unfamiliar pollen on gorgeous shrubs that are currently blooming like crazy. But because of the pandemic and vaccinations, this was the first opportunity I’d had in fifteen months to see my family, so I took it, and through the wonders of multiple allergy medications, survived.
I have a confession to make, and I know this sounds crazy, but allergies have put me at a disadvantage when it comes to mystery writing. You see, studies have shown that readers love to buy books with dogs or cats on the covers, and they can’t wait to read mysteries where pets are a big part of the story. Often I smile or laugh at Heather Weidner’s popular Instagram photos of dogs and cats in humorous situations or with hysterically funny messages. People simply love their pets.
So even without knowing much about raising pets, I’ve been able to include them in my mysteries. My Endurance series has featured Stella, the English cocker spaniel, who in real life lives across the street from me. I often watch her from my front window and smile at her antics in her yard. Her purpose in Death Takes No Bribes is to provide a neighbor an excuse to walk past Grace Kimball’s house and stop to talk. My detective, TJ Sweeney received a kitten named Eliot Ness from Grace. However, TJ is rarely home, so Eliot often stays at Grace’s house with Grace’s sister-in-law, Lettie. In fact, Eliot saves several lives in my second Endurance mystery, Marry in Haste. He is the hero. My current WIP features Skye, the charcoal cat with green eyes owned by a woman who is Wiccan (a follower of modern-day witchcraft.) It also mentions Angus as a minor character, a dog owned by one of the townspeople when she was a child.