Today Dane McCaslin is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Playing Possum, her latest novel in the 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mystery series.
Welcome, Dane. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too. Playing Possum is the third book in the 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mysteries. It focuses on two best pals, Gwen Franklin and Nora Goldstein, and their adventures as partners in a pet care business. Gwen is a retired teacher, never married, while Nora, her BFF since kindergarten, is a multi-married, multi-divorced gal with a large bank account. Between the two of them, they manage to get involved in local mysteries, beginning with finding a very dead body in Nora’s kitchen.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from? I’d heard about a situation like this from an old pal of my own. Someone’s sister’s friend’s cousin (or something like that) was named an executor in the will of her ex-husband. Needless to say, all chaos broke out at the reading.
Playing Possum involves Nora being named the executor of her third ex-husband’s will, a position she is horrified to find herself in. However, her two ex-stepkids are as unreliable as the day is long, so she gives it her best shot. Unfortunately, things go south rather quickly for Gwen and Nora.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it? It’s the old adage that says, Never judge a book by its cover. You’ll have to read the book in order to see just whose “cover” isn’t what it seems to be.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them? Most of my main characters seem to create themselves, to be quite honest. I’ll think of a story line and possibly have a vague idea of who I want to people the plot, and then it takes off from there. To say they reveal themselves to me as I write isn’t an exaggeration! As to favorites, I’m partial to the ones with a sharp wit and a cool head. I’ve tried to imbue Gwen and Nora, the duo in this book, with these characteristics, and I think they evolved perfectly.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about? Another writer and I were speaking about this very thing the other day. It might sound absolutely bonkers to some, but our characters have an independence of their own making. We provide the basics – age, name, back story – but the characters tend to develop on their own volition. That’s the part of creating a book that I love.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel? I tend to write about places I’m somewhat familiar with already. The Portland, Oregon area is one that is near and dear to my heart. From the Multnomah Falls to the Columbia River, it’s a gorgeous place to live and visit. And I can’t say enough about the coffee.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book? I’d love for readers to meet Gwen and Nora, as well as Brent, Gwen’s past student and main dog walker. He is an absolute hoot and is based on a combination of students I had myself when I taught high school. (Kinda like Gwen, now that I think about it.) And if readers are looking for a light-hearted, wit-filled cozy mystery that features some adorable rescue pets, the 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mysteries are for them.
Thank you for answering my questions, Dane, and good luck with Playing Possum, your latest novel in the 2 Sisters Pet Valet Mystery series.
The novel is available online at the following retailers:
About Dane McCaslin: McCaslin began a life-long love of mysteries at a very young age. She bypassed Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and went straight for Agatha Christie, thanks to her mother’s library books. Dane is retired from a twenty-plus-year career in teaching high school and college English, and she uses her newfound freedom to read for pleasure, write mysteries, and smell the roses.