Hi, Marcia! Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog! I love reading books that feature pets; they add a layer of emotion and depth to stories, just as they do for our lives. I always know I can count on your delightful stories for the humor and love pets bring to them.
1. Hi, Leslie! I hear you have a pet in your novel, Unholy Bonds. Tell us about the book.
I’ll refrain from talking (too much!) about Sweetie, a formerly-feral cat we pried from an icy roadway a few years ago, but she is a great example of how deeply animals can affect us. Caring for her as she recovered from near death brought new meaning and purpose to my life during a dark time. You might say we rescued each other.
And that is what happens for Robert Davis and Zilla in Unholy Bonds, a novel partially set within the walls of a Kentucky prison. Inspired by true-life stories of rehabilitation programs that pair inmates with dogs for various types of training, Davis and Zilla are thrust into a relationship with life and death stakes. Like Sweetie, Zilla is a rescue and trusts no one—but she must learn trust if she is to live. And Davis, having established himself in the prison hierarchy as a dangerous man, has one chance to stay out of the general population—and stay out of the reach of his enemies. When he’s tapped for the prison’s dog program, he jumps at the opportunity, unaware that Zilla will force him to face his inner demons. As he and Zilla forge a relationship, Davis discovers his own humanity. But the price for becoming human is sacrifice, which may cost Davis more than he is capable of giving.
I loved writing Zilla. She’s a mutt with one blue eye and one brown eye, and embodies all our human fears. She came to life on the page for me with no hesitation at all. And her impact in the story actually made me cry as I wrote—and that rarely happens to me!
2. What about this topic (dogs in prison) motivated you to write this novel?
One of the programs that inspired Zilla’s appearance in Unholy Bonds is Missouri’s Puppies for Parole. The Department of Corrections pairs rescue dogs with inmates, who socialize them and provide basic obedience training. Once ready, the dogs are placed with adoptive families. It’s a win-win situation, and while I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out for Davis in Unholy Bonds, I knew in my heart we had to go there and find out. If you’d like to learn more about this wonderful program, please click on the hyperlink in this paragraph.
3. What other novels have you written?
Unholy Bonds is a stand-alone sequel to Hijacked, which your readers may wish to read for a more comprehensive understanding of the characters in Unholy Bonds. Opal’s Jubilee is my third novel, and is loosely related to Hijacked and Unholy Bonds. I also have two holiday novellas, Christmas Hope and Christmas Grace. Here are blurbs for all five:
Hijacked: Pilot Lannis Parker’s carefully constructed, sterile life is upended when her small plane is hijacked before dawn on a wintry Louisville morning. Her captor resurrects memories she’s tried to bury, but during a week in the Appalachian wilderness, Lannis learns her hijacker is fair and honorable, compassionate and insightful—strange attributes for a criminal. And when he discovers her secret, he vows to be the friend she desperately needs but refuses to accept.
Unholy Bonds: Pilot Lannis Parker has triumphed over her past—or so she thinks. She faces Robert Davis, then dredges up the courage to bring him to trial, and is relieved to see him imprisoned.
But the closure she’d sought is elusive. Lannis discovers she’s as much a prisoner as Davis, shackled by fear and inextricably bound to him through his crime. She gradually realizes that healing will come only when she acknowledges Davis’s humanity—not a popular notion, but one she increasingly understands as essential. In a bold move, Lannis meets with Davis in prison—and challenges him to recognize her humanity.
Will Lannis’s gamble free her from that unholy bond and open a path to peace? Or will she lose everything in the process?
Opal’s Jubilee: Fresh out of prison, all Opal McBride wants is a chance to build a future—but her past and implacable homicide detective Josh Boone thwart her efforts. Then he discovers there is more to her story than it seems, and risks his reputation (and heart) in a quest for truth—maybe even justice.
Christmas Hope: The father of Becca Sweet’s unborn baby showed his true colors when he showed her the door. With Christmas and a storm on the way, living in her car is no longer an option. She appeals to her no-nonsense sister for help, but Maggie, unaware of Becca’s pregnancy, chooses that moment to dish out some tough love.
When Sam, a reclusive veteran, comes to Becca’s rescue, their battered hearts collide. In a moment of holiday magic, they discover that Christmas hope applies to all, even to them. And will hope lead to love, the most precious Christmas gift of all?
Christmas Grace: No one wants to celebrate Christmas this year.
Not Ella McKendrick, who, on the cusp of success as a potter, is tasked with her husband’s company party on too-short notice. She gives up her first pottery sale to pitch in, but the joy of the season is diminished.
Not Gertie Wycliffe, Ella’s mom, a new widow who is doing everything she can to avoid her first Christmas alone. No one understands the grief and terror she feels—maybe because the craziness of a seventy-four-year-old woman signing up for skydiving lessons is all she lets them see.
Not Natalie Shaw, Ella’s pregnant daughter. Natalie’s husband is deployed halfway around the world, and she believes that ignoring the holiday might blunt her loneliness.
Then disaster strikes, not once but twice. Three generations; three untenable situations. Three women who come together for each other, and remember what’s most important about Christmas.
4. Tell us about your kudos or reviews.
In 2013, I was honored that my then-unpublished manuscript, Hijacked, was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s® prestigious contest, the Golden Heart®. Read below for some lovely Amazon reviews of Unholy Bonds, for which I am grateful:
“This is a suspenseful and romantic novel that manages to tackle some serious issues–trauma, forgiveness, restorative justice. . . . Lynch skillfully and realistically documents [Davis’s] growth, and his participation in a “puppy parole” program became one of my favorite subplots. Lynch weaves together many plot strands beautifully into a satisfying story that contains unusual but useful messages about healing and redemption.” —verified purchase, Amazon
“Absolutely riveting and beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption. Thoroughly researched, the characters were completely believable, and related well with each other. I was drawn into this story from start to finish. I loved it! I highly recommend you read it.” —verified purchase, Amazon
5. Where can readers learn more about your books and connect with you online?
Marcia, again, thank you for inviting me to visit your blog, Go Pets! It is an honor and a pleasure to meet your fans! Readers can connect with me at https://www.LeslieLynch.com Find links to all my books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple, and Kobo on my website, along with a spot to sign up for my (infrequent) newsletter. For audiophiles, Hijacked, Christmas Hope, and Christmas Grace are also available as audiobooks narrated by the talented voice actress, Carol Dines, through Audible and Apple iTunes. You can also find me on Facebook at Leslie Lynch Writes; on Twitter @Leslie_Lynch_; on Pinterest at Leslie Lynch; and Instagram at LeslieLynchAuthor.
Thank you, Leslie, for visiting my blog!
READER INVITATION: I hope visitors to this pro-pet blog will join in the fun and share photos of their pets! Each month, I’ll randomly pick one of the pet photos to feature on my social media pages and in my reader newsletter. To leave a comment and a photo, click on the word “Reply,” which is just below the social media icons for THIS interview. (Don’t scroll past this interview to the next interview.) Go Pets!