Friday, February 26, 2021

Furbidden Fatality - An Interview & Review

I'm pleased to welcome Deborah Blake to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Deborah writes the Catskill Pet Rescue Mystery series. FURBIDDEN FATALITY is the first book in the series and was released this week.

Kathy: In FURBIDDEN FATALITY Kari Stuart wins the lottery and tries to save a struggling animal shelter. I've always said that it would be wonderful to win the lottery and build an animal sanctuary. What would you do with a few million?

DB: Honestly, I would probably donate quite a bit of it to the Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans, which is the local rescue that inspired this story. Then maybe spend some time on the beach. (And probably get a bigger house, so I could have even more cats!) 


Kathy: Kari's shelter has many hard to adopt animals. It's so difficult with so many animals in need. After adopting a dog who had started biting shelter volunteers when they would bring her back to her kennel, a vet told me to have her put down. I refused and, though she had issues, she led a long and happy life with me and several other animals. I've actually had more than one animal deemed difficult. Have you ever adopted a hard to adopt animal?

DB: Absolutely. My sweet yellow cat Angus, who I just lost this last September, was very timid. When I found him, he was seven months old, and had been at the shelter since he had been seven weeks old. The folks who worked there said he was shy, and wouldn’t come anywhere near me, but I just sat in the middle of the floor and he came up and purred the loudest purr I ever heard. Then when I moved, he ran away. So not shy, timid. He ended up being one of the most loving cats I ever had, although even after he’d lived with me for many years, he was still a scaredy cat if you startled him, and never came out for people he didn’t know. The cats I had when I adopted Angus were black Magic, her gigantic brother Mystic, who was gray, and his look-alike mom Minerva. When I found Magic and Mystic at another shelter when they were kittens, I had only been looking for one kitten. But the shelter people begged me to take their mom too—she was very young, and sickly, and extremely terrified. (They thought she’d probably been abused by the people who’d turned her in because she’d gotten pregnant.) She was unadoptable, in short, so they said they’d throw her in as a “bonus,” with no adoption fee. So one kitten turned into two and a mama. It took me two years to get her to sit on my lap, but after that she never wanted to get off. I like adopting cats who are a bit older, and less likely to be adopted than kittens.

Kathy: I currently live with six cats. Do you have a fur family?

DB: I currently have four. Three that are three years old: Harry Dresden (sleek black shorthair), and brother and sister Koshka (part Maine Coon and very fluffy mostly black boy, and a diffuse tortie girl who is gray with orange patches) that I got within a month of each other after losing Magic and Mystic, and Diana, who is one and a half. She was a foster fail, after I fostered her mom and three brothers. They got adopted, but I had to keep Diana who I’d nursed when she was really sick as a kitten. She’s a holy terror, a striped tiger cat with attitude, but also very sweet. Together the four of them really keep me on my toes!

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

DB: The last couple of years have been kind of stressful (you know, in case you hadn’t noticed) and I was having a hard time reading some of my usual favorites because they were too intense. Cozies were fun and interesting, but sort of like comfort food—not too emotional or scary, and they didn’t make me think too much. So when my agent suggested I try my hand at writing one, I thought, “Why not?” And thankfully, she was right. As usual.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

DB: Ha. Lots of them. I started out writing nonfiction for Llewellyn, and to date I have over a dozen books out on modern Witchcraft, plus a tarot and an oracle deck. In fiction, I have written two paranormal romance and one urban fantasy series for Berkley, plus put out a couple of contemporary romances on my own.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

DB: The Catskill Pet Rescue series is a cozy mystery series. A rundown pet rescue. A woman in need of a purpose. And a feisty little black kitten with a nose for trouble. What could possibly go wrong?

The Baba Yaga series is based on the classic Russian tales of a witch who is neither good nor evil, but might be willing to help a deserving seeker…if she doesn’t have any choice. I took the myth and updated it with three kick-ass heroines, their dragon companions, and the men who have no idea what they’re getting into when they meet them.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

DB: My first Baba Yaga, Barbara, is probably my favorite. She does a great job of channeling my inner cranky witch.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

DB: The Catskill Pet Rescue series was inspired by a local rescue that was started by one incredible woman out of her apartment with the goal to save as many animals as possible who would otherwise have fallen through the cracks. I adopted two of my four cats through them, did some volunteer work there (not much, but enough to see how incredibly overwhelming the task is), and donate to them whenever I can. The shelter in my series isn’t “based” on them or their founder –it is fiction, after all –but that’s where the idea sprang from, when I thought one day, “Man, what these people need is for someone to win the lottery and give them a ton of money.” A portion of the proceeds from each book will be going to help the shelter.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

DB: I have wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. Getting paid for it is just a bonus. But seriously, it just seemed like who I was and what I should be doing.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

DB: It would be a pretty eclectic dinner party. LOL. Jennifer Crusie (romantic comedy), Jim Butcher (urban fantasy, the Harry Dresden series), Tamora Pierce (YA fantasy), and William Shakespeare. Because somebody needs to get drunk and stand on the table reciting poetry.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

DB: I just finished the most recent Sofie Ryan cozy mystery, and now I’m reading the Murderbot series (SF) because so many people I know recommended it.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

DB: I have a huge garden, I like to cook (hence the huge garden). I am a professional jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. And I eat a LOT of chocolate. Is that a hobby?

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

DB: Wine. Soy sauce. Garlic. Chocolate. (No—I don’t have them all together.)

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

DB: I have at least two more books in the current series. DOGGONE DEADLY will be out in October, and the third book will be out in April of next year, probably. Whether or not there are more after that depends on how well this first one sells!

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

DB: Honestly, it is becoming friends with other authors. This was an unexpected bonus I hadn’t been expecting when I started writing. I’ve ended up being friends with so many other authors, some of who were people I admired long before I wrote my own books. Authors are fun, smart, and helpful people and I feel very blessed to have so many in my life.



The First Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery
Kari Stuart has every intention of turning over the stray kitten she caught to the local shelter. When Kari discovers the local shelter is full and a nearby animal sanctuary is floundering, she makes a life changing decision. With her recent lottery winnings, Kari buys the sanctuary and starts making much needed improvements. Kari knows it's going to be a tough job requiring a lot of hard work, made even more difficult by the dog warden who seems to have it out for the shelter and one of its dogs in particular. When Kari finds his dead body on the sanctuary grounds, she becomes a prime suspect, but the town is full of people who despised the warden. Will Kari be able to save the sanctuary, its animals, and herself? 
The first Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery introduces readers to an eclectic group of characters, from the school teacher who taught pretty much everybody in town to the waitress who has finally had it with bullies. They are a diverse group, with the diversity coming naturally. I really like Kari, who after overcoming a lot in her life has found purpose and a no nonsense attitude. She is smart, strong, but willing to accept help. Of course I adore Queenie, but I feel that Kari's other pets were given short shrift. I hope they get a little more action, or at least attention, in future outings.

There are lots of surprises and plenty of twists and turns in FURBIDDEN FATALITY, keeping me engaged and concerned. I thought things were bad enough when the dog warden was alive, but even after death the hits keep coming for Kari, and not just being a suspected murderer. One of my primary worries was the welfare of the animals, not only Buster and the other animals in the shelter, but the fate of other animals during the dog warden's tenure. Anger doesn't begin to cover it and if I was one of those owners, he may not have made it to this book!

Animal rescues are a vital part of this world and I'm delighted to have a mystery series that shows the hard work and determination necessary to provide a decent quality of life and a chance for a home of their own for all animals while also providing a great mystery to read!

FURBIDDEN FATALITY with its tenacious characters, lovable animals, and captivating mystery is a fantastic start to a new series.



A lottery winner uses her good fortune to save a local pet sanctuary, but when a body is discovered on the property, she just might be in the doghouse in this first book in a new, charming cozy mystery series from author Deborah Blake. 

Kari Stuart’s life is going nowhere—until she unexpectedly wins the lottery. The twenty-nine-year-old instant multimillionaire is still mulling plans for her winnings when rescuing a bossy black kitten leads her to a semi-abandoned animal shelter. They need the cash—Kari needs a purpose. 

But the dilapidated rescue is literally going to the dogs with a pending lawsuit, hard to adopt animals, and too much unwanted attention from the town’s dog warden. When the warden turns up dead outside the shelter’s dog kennels, Kari finds herself up a creek without a pooper-scooper. 

With the help of some dedicated volunteers, a cute vet, and a kitten who mysteriously shows up just when she needs it, Kari must prove her innocence all while trying to save a dog on death row. Now she just needs to hope that her string of unexpected luck isn’t about to run out.


Deborah Blake is the author of the Baba Yaga Series from Berkley (Wickedly Dangerous, Wickedly Wonderful, Wickedly Powerful), as well as the Broken Rider Series, and the Veiled Magic series. She has also published eleven books on modern witchcraft with Llewellyn Worldwide, along with a tarot and an oracle deck. When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 130-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with various cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane.

1 comment:

  1. "because somebody needs to get drunk and stand on the table reciting poetry" HaHaaPerfect!! Well said Deborah, well said;p ��