Today I welcome author Emily Winslow in conjunction with the Partners in Crime online book tour for her latest novel LOOK FOR HER. She has graciously provided a guest post discussing writers and their pets!
Two Cats, Six Dogs, and a Parrot: writers with pets
Emily Winslow, author of Look For Her
Pets are a special solace to those who work at home. They are also expert at getting in the way.
It was great day when our old cat and our new kitten finally, after months, got along well enough to sit together. Unfortunately, they chose my lap to sit on. I didn’t want to disturb their harmony, but where was my laptop supposed to go??
Now we are sadly down to just the one cat, but she is now big enough to do the getting-in-the-way of two. We have an uneasy truce: she can sit on the arm of my chair or my lower legs, while the laptop gets the lap to itself.
Only one pet has ever come up as a character in my crime novels: a retired cadaver dog entangled in the mysteries of The Red House. Perhaps the reason my cat keeps fighting for my attention is because she’d like to be in my next book!
I’ve asked authors Helen Moss, Eliza Graham, Kristina Riggle, and Jenny Gardiner how their pets “participate” in the writing process. The first three anecdotes I received were about dogs. The last one was a surprise…
Helen Moss, author of the Adventure Island and Secrets of the Tombs series
Snowman (Snowy, for short), my parents’ Parsons Russell, often came to stay with us for his holidays. Unlike our own two dogs, who sleep under my desk while I’m working, Snowy preferred a more paws-on approach. I spent so much time looking at the back of Snowy’s head that his ears—one brown, one white with black spots—found their way into the Adventure Island books, firmly attached to the character Emily’s trusty dog, Drift.
Eliza Graham, author of The One I Was
All our Scottish terriers have enjoyed being involved in the creation of new books. Because work space is sometimes limited in our cottage, I sit on the floor to lay out manuscripts and mark them up, sometimes with a thesaurus too, as you see words differently when they’re printed off. Isla (pictured) has long been fascinated by the thesaurus.
But it was my early twentieth-century Baedeker guide to Germany, glued together using animal-based adhesives, that was lovingly torn apart by Bridie, a now-deceased Scottie, so she could lick the horse glue off the spine.
Kristina Riggle, author of Vivian in Red
We adopted an energetic goofball of a Jack Russell mix puppy in July, when she was seven months old. I’ve read reports about how sitting for long periods can be just as bad for you as smoking. Well, Daisy is saving my life! She does not tolerate me sitting for hours at a stretch and can be counted on to need to pee, chase squirrels, dig holes or for me to toss a tennis ball, with regularity. She will also bark ferociously through the chain link fence at my retired neighbor, requiring me to go out and shoo Daisy away, thus drawing me into a conversation with said neighbor and also saving me from social isolation! She’s such a considerate pup to be so very concerned for my health and welfare. In fact, she’s whining to go out right this minute! When I just let her back in three minutes ago! What a little angel…
Jenny Gardiner, author of the It’s Reigning Men and Royal Romeo series
Our cat, Sushi, has a free pass for life for being care free (except demanding endless head-scratches while I write, which does make it tricky typing, not to mention plenty of fur on the keyboard). Albert the bunny, well, the one thing going for him is that he’s quiet, which sort of makes him out of sight, out of mind. Our Labrador Sassy, who passed away last year, was mostly calm and cooperative except when nudged into naughtiness by our Australian cattle dog dingo-esque mutt Bridget, who we lost two years ago and almost until the end had a wild streak that knew few bounds.
But none of our pets has been quite as masterful at that as has Graycie, our African Grey parrot that was a gift to us in 1990 and has now, to all of our surprise, been with us for 27 years—some of them longer than others.
Graycie will not ever allow me to just sit down at my desk—not particularly strategically located in our open floor plan kitchen/living room/dining room, where she, too, resides—without her demanding that she be freed from her cage to perch atop a large “tree” perch.
She will either drag her beak across the metal bars of the cage like an ornery prisoner thrown in the drunk tank on an episode of Gunsmoke, or pluck the bars with her beak incessantly, like some audio form of Chinese water torture until she gets her wish. But granting that wish can take precious time, because she doesn’t just walk from cage to branch. No. She wants bribes, in the form of peanuts, and for me it is a test of wills to see who wins. Long ago our vet warned us to use peanuts sparingly, and that they’re bad for the bird’s health and can clog arteries. So I try to lure her with veggies, but what self-respecting bird with the cognition of a 3-year old would settle for health food when she can wield her powers of annoyance to win the junk food prize?
Instead what she ends up doing is climbing down the cage, onto the floor, click-clacking her little black clawed-feet across the hardwoods, walking backwards while looking over her shoulder, as if some cloak-and-dagger spy, ensuring she won’t be caught. Her goal? To get to the cabinet where the peanuts are stored. If she won’t get them from me, then dammit she’ll just have to help herself. I may have mentioned, parrot beaks are destructive. I have the scars to prove it. And they can do a number on hardwood cabinets, shoe-molding electrical cords, you name it. So while I doggedly refuse to accede to the demands of a petulant parrot, cutting my nose to spite my face since this interaction is cutting into my writing schedule, she has time on her hands and nothing better to do.
My family all shrug and shake their head at me, wondering why I engage with a veritable 27-year old toddler on such a regular basis, particularly when I have deadlines constantly looming with my editor often drumming her fingers awaiting my latest submission. And I can’t even find a legitimate excuse for my own obstinacy, except that I refuse to be outwitted by a bird-brained, well, bird. I suspect the darker truth is its all part of my own inherent procrastination tactics, and she’s become a conspirator in my own efforts to sabotage my writing progress. Sometimes I just need to remind myself it’s best to ride the horse in the direction it’s galloping, and then maybe I’ll actually produce some copy!
Emily Winslow is an American living in Cambridge, England. She trained as an actor at Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious drama conservatory and earned a master’s degree in museum studies from Seton Hall University. For six years she wrote for Games magazine, creating increasingly elaborate and lavishly illustrated logic puzzles. She lives with her husband and two sons. She is the author of four novels and a memoir.
You can connect with her on:
Everyone loves a beautiful missing girl… a gripping psychological thriller that delves into the grief, jealousy, and unresolved mystery surrounding a cold case kidnapping, in the vein of Gilly MacMillan and Mary Kubica.
Just outside of Cambridge, Lilling seems like an unassuming idyllic English village, but it’s home to a dark history. In 1976, a teenage girl named Annalise Wood disappeared while riding her bike home from school. Though her body was later discovered in a shallow grave, the culprit was never found. Decades later, Annalise maintains a perverse kind of celebrity in the small town, and is still the focus of grief, speculation, and for one young woman, a disturbing, escalating jealousy.
When DNA linked to the Annalise murder unexpectedly surfaces, cold case investigator Morris Keene realizes he may now have the chance of his career. Morris and his former partner, Chloe Frohmann, hope to finally solve this perplexing mystery, and bring closure to a traumatized community. But the new evidence that should be the simple solution instead undoes the case’s only certainty: the buried body that had long ago been confidently identified as Annalise may be someone else entirely, and instead of answers, the investigators face only new puzzles.
Whose body was unearthed all those years ago, and what happened to the real Annalise? Could she have had a secret child? Is someone interfering with the investigation? And is there a link to a present-day drowning with eerie connections?
From Chapter One
Annalise Williams (Wolfson College),
University Counselling Service,
recorded and transcribed by Dr. Laurie Ambrose
My mother picked the name Annalise for me because of a girl who was killed. Her name was Annalise Wood, and she went missing when she was sixteen. My mother was the same age when it happened. Annalise was lovely, much prettier than my sister and I ever became. She was the kind of girl you look at and think, “Of course someone would want to take her.”
Don’t look at me like that. I know that what happened to her was awful. It just seems a very fine line between being the kind of person that others want to be with and be like and treat well, and being the kind of person that some others, just a few, sick others, want to take for themselves. That’s the same kind of person, isn’t it? The loved and lovely. Isn’t that from a poem somewhere? That’s what she was like. That’s the risk when you’re the kind of person who’s wanted. Good people want to be close to you, but the bad people want you too.
There were two photos of her that the media used most: her most recent school portrait, and a snapshot of her laughing, with the friends on either side cropped out. Taken together, they presented the two sides of a beautiful and perfect person: poised and thoughtful, and spontaneous and bubbly. The kind of person who deserves help and attention.
Realistically, if they wanted these pictures to help strangers identify her if they saw her out and about with the bad man, they should have used photos of her frowning or looking frightened. Either there weren’t any (which may well be the case; who would take a photo of that?), or they couldn’t bring themselves to advertise a version of her that was less than appealing. The narrative is important. If you want the “general public” to get worked up, you have to persuade. Attractiveness and innocence must be communicated, even if emphasising those traits makes the real person harder to recognise.
In the end, she was already dead, so it’s a good thing, I suppose, that they used the nice photos. They’re the images that everyone remembers. My mum was a teenager when those pictures were in the paper every day for weeks, then weekly for months. Annalise Wood was the most beautiful girl in the world. Everyone cared about her. It’s what any mother would wish for her child, to be the kind of person that everyone would care about and miss if she disappeared.
It wasn’t until Mum was over thirty that what really happened to Annalise Wood was discovered.
Excerpt from Look for Her by Emily Winslow. Copyright © 2018 by Emily Winslow. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
You can also check out my REVIEW of Look For Her HERE!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Emily Winslow and William Morrow. There will be 1 winner of one (1) physical copy of each of the 1st three books in the Keene and Frohmann Series: The Whole World, The Start of Everything, and The Red House AND there will be 5 Winners of one (1) physical copy of their choice of ONE of the 1st three books in the Keene and Frohmann Series: The Whole World, The Start of Everything, and The Red House. The giveaway begins on February 12 and runs through March 18, 2018. This giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Many thanks to Partners in Crime Tours and Emily Winslow for this great opportunity! It was an absolute pleasure hosting. And be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!
02/12 Review @ Mrs. Robinson’s Library
02/12 Showcase @ Tome Tender
02/13 Review @ The World As I See It
02/14 Review @ Cheryls Book Nook
02/14 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape
02/15 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
02/16 Interview @ Aurora B’s Book Blog
02/17 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
02/18 Review @ A Dream Within A Dream
02/19 Review @ Chill and read
02/20 Review @ It’s All About the Book
02/21 Review @ Booked on a Feeling
02/22 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
02/23 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books
02/25 Review @ Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin
02/26 Showcase @ Julie’s Bookshelf
02/27 Interview @ A Blue Million Books
02/28 Showcase @ BooksChatter
03/01 Review @ A Bookaholic Swede
03/01 showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge
03/02 Review @ View from the Birdhouse
03/04 Review @ Curling up by the Fire
03/05 Guest post @ Colloquium
03/05 Review @ FUONLYKNEW
03/07 Guest post (pre-written) @ Loris Reading Corner
03/08 Review @ Words And Peace
03/10 Review @ Simply Kelina
03/12 Review @ Colloquium
03/13 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
03/14 Review @ Mrs Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews
03/15 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis
03/15 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty
03/15 Review @ Thats What Shes Reading
03/16 Guest post (pre-written) @ Thats What Shes Reading
03/16 Review @ Just Reviews