Help me welcome Annie Knox to the blog today. Annie writes the Pet Boutique Mystery series. Groomed for Murder, the second in the series was released just last month.
Kathy: Setting plays such an important role in a mystery. How did you choose Merryville, Minnesota to be the location of your Pet Boutique Mystery series?
AK: I lived in both the Twin Cities and out-state (everything else) Minnesota for nearly seven years. I loved the people and the landscape so much, I jumped at the chance to set the story there.
Kathy: Izzy McHale makes clothing and accessories for pets. Do you purchase (or make) clothing for any of your pets? If so, do they enjoy dressing up?
AK: Ha! No. Well, I made a knit hat for one of the cats once, and he put up with it for about five minutes (he's pretty chill). We've tried to dress the others in reindeer antlers and Santa hats, but we're lucky to get one squirmy picture. So the Knox cats generally go nude (save for their collars). But the cats in our household are so people-like, that I can imagine just what they'd wear ... if only they'd be patient enough to wear clothes!
Kathy: I enjoy giving my furkids homemade treats and I love finding bakeries that cater to them. Trendy Tails Pet Boutique has its own bakery counter. Was this idea based on a pet bakery you frequent?
AK: I live in a fairly small town, so no pet bakeries here. But I visited a little community in Northern Virginia once -- for a book signing, actually -- and while I wandered around the town I stumbled across a bakery just for animals. The treats were in cute shapes, and they had samples set out so people could bring their pets in and test their finicky palates. It was absolutely charming, and I fell in love with the idea.
Kathy: I am an animal lover and my pets are my family. As family members they participate in holiday celebrations with their own special treats and gifts. I celebrate birthdays, however, I've never quite understood the concept of pet weddings or "pupptials". Have you ever been to an animal wedding? What made you decide to include one in Groomed for Murder?
AK: I forget where I first saw a dog wedding. It might have been on TV. I tend to think that pet weddings are more about the owners than the animals. It's a way, for example, for two friends to share a bond and celebrate their mutual love of animals. It's also a good excuse to throw a party, full of whimsy and silliness. I suppose there might be a shotgun dog wedding, but I've never heard of one!
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
AK: The mystery part. I love a good puzzle, and cozies give me the opportunity to create a puzzle and solve it while (hopefully) making people laugh and feel good about life.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
AK: Yes. I have one historical mystery out (Once Upon a Wallflower) and a contemporary mystery that should be released within the year (no title yet). I've also dabbled with romantic suspense, but my cozy deadlines and my day job don't leave me much time to experiment.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
AK: I wrote a three-book series called the Mysteries a la Mode (under the name Wendy Lyn Watson). They follow the shenanigans of the proprietor of an ice cream parlor in the town of Dalliance, Texas, as she scoops sundaes and solves murders. The Pet Boutique Mysteries (under the name Annie Knox) are about Izzy McHale, owner of Trendy Tails Pet Boutique, and her offbeat friends and family. Izzy's just trying to build a business and rebuild her life after her long-term fiance left her, but she keeps stumbling across dead bodies.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
AK: In the Pet Boutique Mysteries, I'm very fond of Izzy's best friend Rena Hamilton. She's from the wrong side of the tracks and definitely forges her own path in life. I admire her bravery and spunk. Basically, I wish I was a little more like her!
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
AK: All the books I write are an amalgam of people I know, places I've been, and events I've read about (or lived). For example, Izzy is a little bit me, but she's also a lot my sister, and a bit my friend Helen. Her sister Lucy is very much another good friend, but with some poetic license taken.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
AK: When I started writing, I joined Romance Writers of America. It's a terribly supportive group, and everything about the organization is aimed at getting its members published. It never occurred to me to write without pursuing publication. It's scary to put my stories out there, and sometimes I'm not a fan of those deadlines, but I wouldn't change a thing.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
AK: Chuck Palahniuk, Robert Charles Wilson, Denise Mina, and Peter Watts. They all write smart, clever, sometimes disturbing books and I'd love to know what makes them tick. I imagine sitting back and just listening to them talk.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
AK: Speaking of Peter Watts, I'm just starting his latest, Echopraxia (he's a sci fi author).
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
AK: Hmmm. I love to cook when I have the time. I especially enjoy baking. I quilt (again, when I have the time). I love watching movies of all sorts and binge-watching good TV on Netflix. I'm a total homebody.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
AK: Right now the pantry is pretty bare, but we do have pasta, granola, bananas, and hot cocoa mix.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
AK: Yes! The third Pet Boutique Mystery (Collared For Murder) comes out next summer, and I'm starting another series -- the Book Magic Mysteries -- under the name Wendy Lyn Watson. I don't have a title or release date for the first in that series, but I'm having so much fun writing it!
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
AK: Being able to escape into a world that I create and control. Oddly, though, I also enjoy the adventure of it ... starting a book and not being 100% certain where it's going to end up or how. It's like those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, but richer and with more choices!
For more information check out the following links: