I'm happy to welcome Richard Audry to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Richard pens the Canine Cozy Mystery series.
Kathy: While Andy Skyberg may be considered the protagonist, King Harald is probably the hero! Is King Harald based on a real dog?
RA: The whole thing started with a real dog back in the ’90s. My brother-in-law, who lives on a farm, had a big ol’ Chesapeake named Gus. He was a moose of a mutt and not the brightest bulb in the box, but he was very good-natured. Funny thing was, he got pushed around something awful by the farm’s other canine, a little rat terrier named Augie. There was no doubt who was top dog. I thought a mystery revolving around a pooch like Gus—but much cleverer—would be fun. It took me about fifteen years to get around to it, but King Harald is the result.
Kathy: The Karma of King Harald deals with many things including one legendary (but lost) ebelskiver recipe. They sound delicious! Have you ever made ebelskiver?
RA: I have, a few times. But the process is kind of fussy and requires a special pan. Fortunately, we live just a brisk walk from the Danish-American Center in Minneapolis, which has a Sunday ebelskiver breakfast once a month through the winter. They’re real pros with an ebelskiver pan.
Kathy: In King Harald's Heist, King Harald gets into trouble with a thousand-dollar bill and a naughty garden gnome. Do you happen to own a garden gnome? What are your thoughts of these garden dwellers?
RA: I have just one, the little guy I photographed for the back cover of the paperback edition. He stands next to my wi-fi router, behind my desk. He’s peeking at me as I write this. And I should mention that there is nothing naughty about him. He is a proper gentleman. I don’t have any deep connection with garden gnomes, I suppose, but I remember having a copy of Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen's classic book on gnomes, and loving it.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
RA: Until I was in my thirties, I was mostly a reader of science fiction and fantasy. In fact, I was the SF/fantasy reviewer for the Minneapolis newspaper for many years. But when I acquired my wife—best move of my life—some of her love of cozies rubbed off on me. Particular faves include M.C. Beaton, Dorothy Sayers, and Carole Nelson Douglas (full disclosure: she’s an old friend). Though a bit off the traditional cozy axis, I love Lawrence Sanders’ Archie McNally books and David Handler’s Stuart Hoag and Lulu series. I should mention also that as a kid, I read dozens of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books—which in hindsight sure seem like cozies.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
RA: Yes, I do. I also have a historical mystery series and a middle grade fantasy adventure series.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
RA: The Mary MacDougall Mysteries chronicle the investigations of a young, wannabe sleuth in the first decade of the 20th century. She’s an heiress firmly determined to never marry, so of course I’ve thrown her in with a handsome artist whom she’s trying desperately not to fall in love with. The two Johnny Graphic novels (written under my real name, D.R. Martin) are rousing pulp ghost adventures set on an alternate earth in the 1930s. The final book is yet to come. And the King Harald Mysteries follow the crime-sniffing careers of Andy Skyberg and his big mutt King Harald in the quaint tourist town of New Bergen, a couple hours up the Interstate from the Cities.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
RA: It’s got to be Andy Skyberg in my King Harald series. He’s just an ordinary guy trying to get his life back together after reverses in business and marriage. It’s not his intention to become a sleuth. But he has this lovable hound that keeps landing him in the doo-doo, not to mention friends and relatives who entangle him in various tricky situations. He’s kind of the center of gravity around which a collection of eccentric characters orbit.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
RA: As I noted above, it started with a dog named Gus. And I wanted to create a little universe like Lake Wobegon or Midsomer, where readers would love to visit for a day or two—someplace charming and friendly, aside from the occasional murder.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
RA: The timing was such that my first novels came together when the e-book and independent publishing revolutions really got going. I followed the indie route because I wanted to keep control of my material. And of course I work with two professional editors, some very smart beta readers, and an excellent designer to get the books in the best shape possible. I couldn’t do it alone.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
RA: Douglas Adams, because he was funny as hell. The historian Barbara Tuchman, for her take on the utter mess the world seems to be in. The mystery-suspense master John D. MacDonald, because I’m a huge fan of his Travis McGee series. And the great essayist on food, M.F.K. Fisher, for her stories about all the magnificent meals she had shared with fascinating people.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
RA: Daniel Silva’s The English Spy. Nobody these days writes a better espionage yarn.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
RA: I’m also a photographer, a cook, an ardent collector of movies and TV shows, and an enthusiastic hiker (though knee tendonitis has put a crimp in that lately).
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
RA: Peanut butter, green olives, Dijon mustard, and a chilled bottle of white wine.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
RA: The third book in my historical mystery series will be out this winter. Then I plan to write two or three King Harald stories in a row. At some point, I’ll finish the last book in my middle grade fantasy trilogy.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
RA: I’ve always thought there was something magical about creating worlds out of thin air. And I would hope that those I’ve created will be special enough to touch readers now and long after I’m gone.
The Karma of King Harald by Richard Audry
The First Canine Cozy Mystery
King Harald is a lovable big mutt who has a penchant for escaping his
yard and wandering about town. Andy Skyberg, King Harald's "Boss" is a
laid back man looking for peace surrounded by a cast of unique and, most
definitely not laid back, characters including his Deputy Sheriff
girlfriend, former sweetheart turned current new age store owner, and a
mean spirited church leader, who once saved Andy's life. King Harald
makes a delightful, for him, yet horrendous, for everyone else,
discovery. Murder, threats, and religious intolerance are just the beginning while the search for a missing recipe leads to more than Andy could have possibly imagined!
Andy is continually shocked by the nasty goings on in what used to be
a peaceful little town. I personally found the first crime to be quite
disturbing, as it's a particular nightmare of mine. Andy tries to find
peace and calm in the ongoing chaos surrounding him, never really intending to become so involved in the criminal activity brought to the forefront by his dog!
Just as King Harald takes meandering walks, the mystery is a meandering stroll through New Bergen. The action starts during one of King Harald's solitary excursions with a most dreadful discovery; which is the start of the mystery. But lots of time passes with more twists as seemingly unrelated, yet interesting, paths are taken and explored. We have what appears to be federal agents spying on a cranky old socialist and a search for a long lost recipe as well as the various suspects and all of their many motives. Yet the roads all meet at an amazing juncture and we're left with a satisfying conclusion.
I am completely enamoured of good natured King Harald. Audry's descriptions of this wonderful dog are spot on giving us deep characterization as well as meaningful views and commentary. I certainly wouldn't mind having some ebelskivers and a Biberschwanz Pilsner with Andy and sharing some Slim Jims with King Harald!
For a chance to win 1 set of e-books (The Karma of King Harald and King Harald's Heist) leave a comment on this blog post no later than 11:59pm EST Saturday, December 12, 2015. Tell us if your pet has ever led you into trouble! Be sure to leave an e-mail address as well as what format of e-reader you would like should you win. Be sure to enter the rafflecopter as well.
a Rafflecopter giveaway