I'm pleased to welcome Linda O. Johnston back to the blog! You may have read our interview regarding her new Superstition Mystery series. Today we're going to talk about her second brand new series, the Barkery and Biscuits Mystery series. Bite the Biscuit, the first book in the series, was just released earlier this month.
Kathy: In Bite the Biscuit Carrie Kennersly converts a bakery into the Barkery where she makes and sells dog treats. Is the Barkery based on a real bakery for animal treats, or is it purely fictional?
LOJ: The Barkery is entirely fictional, although I'm seeing more and more stores open that are all about creating fresh and healthy food and treats for dogs right on their premises. There are even chains of dog bakeries with stores popping up various places. People obviously love to feed their dogs good stuff!
Kathy: Do you bake treats for your dogs? Do you buy them treats from a canine bakery?
LOJ: I unfortunately don't bake treats for my dogs, although I do buy fresh treats sometimes from dog food stores for my older dog, Lexie, who loves them and orders me constantly to take her outside so she can get a treat when she comes in again! My younger dog, Mystie, is on prescription food from her vet, and I don't want to try her on anything new for fear of causing a flare-up of her tummy issues.
Kathy: I absolutely adore the cover of Bite the Biscuit. Did you have any input in the design?
LOJ: I do get input into the cover design, which is fun. I'm sent an initial rendering and then can say if I'd like any changes, which are incorporated into the final. I love the cover of Bite the Biscuit, too!
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this series?
LOJ: Not specifically, other than my love for dogs and cozy mysteries. The main general inspiration for this series and my others is my always active imagination.
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Carrie?
LOJ: Fortunately, Carrie's Barkery and bakery are big successes so she can hire more assistants. She continues to enjoy having her dog Biscuit hang out at the Barkery with her, too. On the whole, she's going to continue to spend her time mostly at her entrepreneurial ventures and also remaining a part-time veterinary technician because she loves it. And, yes, unfortunately for Carrie, additional murders crop up around her.
Kathy: Your mysteries have a distinctly canine focus. Why are dogs so important?
LOJ: I adore dogs and always have! It's fun for me to feature them in my stories. Dogs are members of the family and always there for people, so why not feature them in situations where they also fictionally help their humans?
Kathy: I too am an animal lover and supporter. While I love dogs, I am currently dogless and am more focused on my cats and rats (with a shout out to my horse, Harley, who often gets left out of my mystery animals talks). Was there something that made you such an animal advocate? Do you have suggestions for readers on how they can help pets?
LOJ: As I said, I've always loved dogs. I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I've been owned by one breed, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, for a very long time, but I do advocate people adopting rescue dogs. I started volunteering at a local shelter when I was researching an earlier mystery series, my Pet Rescue Mysteries, and learned a lot more about how people can help to prevent so many dogs winding up in shelters instead of loving homes--including by spaying and neutering. Also, as much as I consider dogs to be family members, I recognize that not everyone does, and in those instances they shouldn't adopt, in my opinion, since the dogs are more likely to wind up in shelters. At least there are quite a few private shelters these days that take good care of the dogs and other pets they bring in until they do find them loving homes, since, unfortunately, public shelters do wind up killing a lot of animals because they have no room to keep them. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now but I do wish people thought things through more in their treatment of pets.
And hugs to your cats, rats and Harley!
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
LOJ: Yes! I have two other books coming out this year. The first, Canadian Wolf, is a Harlequin Nocturne paranormal romance that happens to feature dogs... and werewolves! It will be out in September. The next is Knock on Wood, my second Superstition Mystery for Midnight Ink, which also publishes my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries. It'll be an October release. Yes, the Superstition Mysteries feature dogs, too, since my protagonist manages a pet boutique in the town of Destiny, California, which is all about superstitions! And I'm also working now on the second Barkery & Biscuits Mystery which will be out around May next year.
Thanks for having me here!
Bite the Biscuit by Linda O. Johnston
The First Barkery and Biscuit Mystery
Carrie Kennersly loves her job as a veterinary technician in the small town of Knobcone Heights, but when the opportunity presents itself to own her own business, Carrie takes the plunge. While still working part time as a vet tech, she has just taken over her friends bakery and converted it into 2 stores: Icing, a bakery for people, and the Barkery, a bakery for pets! Her grand opening is going well, until Myra Ethman and her husband, owner of the town's pet store, enter spewing venom about Carrie's hand made dog treats and threatening to close her business down. The couple refuse to leave and Carrie finally tells the crowd that she'll find a way to keep Myra quiet! The next morning Carrie awakes to the news of Myra's murder and discovers she's the prime suspect!
Linda O. Johnston brings her love of animals to another new series with Bite the Biscuit. I truly enjoyed my time in Knobcone, California. Carrie is a down to earth character who has an adorable dog and two wonderful careers. The author introduces a few romantic possibilities, but Carrie wisely puts those ideas on the back burner as she juggles her new shop and employees, her old job, as well as her friends and family. The focus is more on solving the mystery and any romantic entanglements are secondary.
As for the mystery, Linda O. Johnston gives us a victim we dislike and plenty of suspects with motive. Bite the Biscuit gave me clues, red herrings, and lots of detailed characterization which had me puzzling over the suspects. Since the author also had me craving baked goods, I'm pleased to say she also included recipes for both humans and dogs.