Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Magic of Mysteries . . . and More!

Casey here, please join me in welcoming today's guest, Linda O. Johnston.
I love writing paranormal stories. I also love writing stories that aren’t paranormal. What’s similar about them? They’re all fiction! And there’s magic in everything we write.

I want to thank Casey Daniels for inviting me to be a guest blogger here at Wicked Authors. I read Casey’s post on January 26 about the magic of writing. I pretty much agree with her--and especially enjoy her statement that she can kill people for a living and get away with it. Me, too! She also pointed out the magic of being a reader, and being transported to places we’ve never been, experiencing things beyond our own lives. Beautiful! She also described, eloquently, the magic--or lack thereof--in the writing process, and I love what she said about it.

What I especially like to consider, though, is how, from the writer’s perspective, our plots and characters are themselves magical.

To me, the magic in writing is the creation of people and situations, anywhere, at any time in the past, present or future--and in this world or some other--and make them turn out the way we want them to. Within reason, of course, and also within the parameters of the genre or subgenre in which we’re writing.

There’s definitely magic, in some ways, in the paranormal romances I write for Harlequin Nocturne. I’ve created Alpha Force, a highly covert military unit of shapeshifters.

But I believe my mysteries, too, evoke magic.

Take my new Pet Rescue Mystery series. It’s a spinoff of my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mystery series, both from Berkley Prime Crime.

My new protagonist is Lauren Vancouver, the director of HotRescues, a no-kill animal shelter. She was introduced in HOWL DEADLY, the eighth Kendra mystery, and also appeared in FELINE FATALE, the ninth.

Now she stars in stories of her own, starting with BEAGLEMANIA. Saving animals is her passion, and she’ll be involved with some rather difficult situations such as being there when the puppies and their parents are saved from the puppy mill. The second Pet Rescue Mystery, THE MORE THE TERRIER, starts off with Lauren learning that her mentor in pet rescue has turned into an animal hoarder, and Lauren has to help deal with that, too.

What’s magical about these mysteries?

Well, they’re cozy mysteries, so they of course contain murders that must be solved--by my protagonist Lauren. It’s somewhat magical that a woman trained as a veterinary technician could come up with a business plan that impressed a wealthy pet supplies mogul enough that he hired her to run the animal shelter he was starting. Plus, it’s magical that she can solve murders better than the police can.

It’s even more magical that, in the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people!

In other words, no matter what else happens in these stories, the animals will come out of it all just fine. Yes, that’s fiction. Magic. Why? Because it’s not, unfortunately, reality.

Since I started researching Lauren’s stories I’ve met with pet rescuers of many kinds who would love to make it so. I visited shelters, both public and private. I talked to people. Met animals.

I’ve been personally drawn into pet rescue, too. I’ve begun volunteering at a private shelter, Pet Orphans of Southern California. I’m a dog adoption counselor there, which means I screen potential adopters and introduce them to dogs they might fall in love with. It’s a thrill for me when I see that the people and pets I’ve introduced are now a family. That’s reality--and, yes, it’s also a touch magical! I’m also the Los Angeles Pet Rescue Examiner, for the website.

The greater reality is that private, no-kill shelters are good venues for rescue animals to wind up, since they’ll most often be kept there, or fostered, until a good forever family is found for them. That’s because those shelters can usually pick and choose which animals to take in, and therefore select those they consider most adoptable. Public shelters, on the other hand, must generally take in all stray or unwanted animals within their jurisdiction, and when they need more room to accept the next batch, they have to put down some of their residents to provide that extra space.

That’s the magic of my Pet Rescue Mysteries. Yes, there will be endangered animals, primarily dogs and cats. But as I said, in my stories, “no-kill” means pets, not people. Despite the stories being cozy murder mysteries in which Lauren will need to figure out whodunit and why, the mysteries she’s solving will be the murders of people. The pets will all survive, and thrive.

Yes, that’s fiction. And, perhaps, magic--the magic of an author being able to select the parameters of what occurs in her stories.

Please come visit me at and at on Wednesdays. Friend me on Facebook. I’d love to hear what you think of the magic of fictional pet rescue--and BEAGLEMANIA!


Sharon S. said...

That cover is to die for! (pun intended) If I had that on my shelf my 9 year old would want to read it . And the title of the next book, The More the Terrie, genius!

My two girls hold a yard sale every year and 100% of the money raised goes to the local animal shelter. My 9 year old asks her birthday guests to bring donations for the shelter instead of gifts (she sends them a list of needed supplies along with the invitation). So proud of them :)

Linda O. Johnston said...

I love the cover, too, Sharon--and the titles! I can't take full credit for either of them but they fit well with the stories.

Hugs to your daughters--they've started young to make a difference for animals in need!

Casey said...

That's so nice of your girls, Sharon!

As for the cover...Linda's going to think I'm a stalker since I show up and say this on every blog, but I think that's the cutest cover ever. I had a beagle as a child, maybe that's why I find it so adorable. As for terriers...I've got three of them right now, can't wait to read book #2!

Linda O. Johnston said...

You say very nice things for a stalker, Casey!

Sharon S. said...

we had a Beagle when I was little. His name was Casper (after the ghost ).

Linda O. Johnston said...

He must have been a cutie, Sharon!