Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cows and Crows and Killers Oh My!

I have adored animals for as long as I can remember.  From my first German shepherd, a lovely animal named Duchess, to my Holstein cow Beauty, to my first kitty, Smokey. Then there was my childhood horse, Becky, and the other assorted, dogs, cats, turtles, fish, parakeets, gerbils, canaries—even a pigeon named Lollipop—that followed.  Each has commanded a special place in my heart.

My favorite childhood cow, Beauty.
When I was a child, cats followed me wherever I went like children chasing after the Pied Piper. I nursed injured butterflies back to health. One day, I tearfully convinced my fourth grade teacher to let me release the winged grasshoppers she’d accumulated for the science class’s dissection.  I’m pretty sure the grasshoppers were happier about my success than the school’s groundskeeper.

cat island
Hanging out with a herd of cats on “Cat Island”
Not much has changed since then. When I see a drowning earthworm, I relocate it. I move caterpillars off walking trails so they don’t get smashed. I save snails and slugs.  (Don’t tell my neighbors!) If it weren’t for my husband, I’d surely be locked away in whatever prison they use to hold well-meaning hoarders.
So it’s not surprising that animals play prominent roles in my mysteries. How could they not?  After all, I write what I love, and I love nothing more than animals.  The mystery in Karma’s a Killer gave me the perfect opportunity to weave in some unusual animal characters.  The story revolves around an animal rescue group, a wildlife rehabilitator, and a group of animal activists whose ideologies clash with deadly results.

Animal rescue and animal activism collide in Karma’s a Killer
As always, my writing is fiction, but it’s strongly informed by my life. Many of the animals in Karma’s a Killer are based on real-life creatures.  Bella, the German shepherd, is in many ways a carbon copy of my own special needs German shepherd, Tasha. Blackie—a rehabilitated crow who plays a prominent role in the story—is modeled after a wild crow that has befriended her. Their relationship has touched me and changed my opinion of crows forever.

 Weber-Tracy and Tasha getting inspired by crows
Tasha and a murder of her crow friends at Green Lake–one of the pivotal locations in Karma’s a Killer.
Mister Feathers, the pigeon that “decorates” the entrance to Kate’s yoga studio, is similar to a pigeon that roosted above my own yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga, a few years ago. I saved him from a hawk attack, and the experience changed me in a profound way.  If you’re interested, here’s a blog I wrote about that day.

Raising goats is still a pipe dream, but I’m chiseling away at my husband’s resolve a little more every day.  If I have my way, pigs and a few chicken-girls will soon join the menagerie. 

Someday I’ll have some chicken-girls!
How about you?  What animals are important in your life?  Tell me about your favorite furred, feathered, scaled, and exoskeletoned creatures in the comments.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll end up in my next mystery!

Tracy Weber

Tracy Weber

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PS--all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at  Thanks for reading!


Linda O. Johnston said...

Such a delightful post, Tracy! Dogs have always been most important in my life, but my first "pet" was an imaginary goat who followed me around. My Cavaliers are my babies. I have great fun now observing and listening to the birds in my backyard and watching a few squirrels. And my first mystery series, the Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter Mysteries, featured a Cavalier plus cats, other dogs, pigs, birds, ferrets and more!

Tracy Weber said...

Ferrets seem like SUCH cool animals! I'll always remember the snake from that first book in series. LOVED it!