1. I hear you have a Golden Retriever mystery series.
I do. Sixteen of them so far. They began in 2011, but because I don’t want my canine sleuth to get too old, I’m trying to plot out three or four books a year. So in their world it’s only 2015.
My hero, semi-reformed computer hacker Steve Levitan, began as an accidental sleuth. His next-door neighbor was killed while walking her golden retriever Rochester, and Steve uses his computer skills to help his high school pal, the local police detective, solve the crime. Rochester motivates Steve, sniffs out clues for him, and teaches him how to love again after a bad divorce.
The series began with In Dog We Trust, and the newest book, Dog of Thieves, carries on the tradition of repurposing God phrases with “dog” – which after all is God spelled backwards.
Dog of Thieves features stolen treasures, a cane-whacking elderly woman and a couple of dead bodies.
From a tree-removal scam artist to a museum heist, their investigations lead Steve and Rochester on a thrilling journey from their small town in Pennsylvania to the bustling streets of New York City. They follow a trail that takes them from an elegant Fifth Avenue museum to a drop-in center for the poor and homeless on the Lower East Side.
Steve endures personal threats and makes an important decision in this latest entry in a charming series, one that readers have reacted to with deep emotion. With their unique skillset and clever wit, Steve and Rochester use their charm and humor to uncover the truth and solve the crime in this new mystery with heart—and fur.
2. Why did you add goldens to this series?
I’ve always been a dog person, but adopting my golden, Samwise, kicked that love up a few notches. He had such a personality and I loved him dearly. I wanted to write a book about him—and because I have loved crime fiction since reading Freddy the Detective as a kid, I made him the center of my book. Rochester is a beautiful dog and looks like the breed standard, with a square head, a golden coat and a plumy tail. He also has a nose for bad guys and a talent for uncovering clues as a dog might—by scratching, sniffing, and tugging, among other ways.
Samwise is the golden who inspired my series; Brody and Griffin have taken up the challenge now that Samwise is no longer with us.
3. What other books have you written?
My first published mystery was Mahu, the first of my Mahu Investigations, about a Honolulu homicide detective who is dragged out of the closet while investigating a dangerous case. In thirteen books so far, his detective work has illuminated his gradual coming out, to the point where now he is a loving partner and dad to twins. Since then I’ve written over fifty other books in mystery, adventure and romance.
4. Tell us about your kudos or reviews.
I was honored to win a Lefty for best police procedural mystery for my third book, Mahu Fire. It was given by the attendees of the Left Coast Crime fan convention. I’ve also been a four-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards in mystery and romance.
5. How do you promote your books?
My first step is to make sure that the book description is the best it can be, and that it tells readers how they will feel after reading it. I often solicit help from my editor, and lately I’ve learned to use ChatGPT to help. A third party can give a more objective view, and the AI supplies those glowing accolades that authors are shy about using regarding their own work.
I advertise free and discounted books in email newsletters like BookBub and The Fussy Librarian, and on social media I post pictures of my dogs and cute dog cartoons. I want to attract a readership that loves dogs as much as I do.
6. Where can readers learn more about your books and connect with you online?
My website is www.MahuBooks.com, and readers can sign up for my monthly newsletters there. I’m most active on Facebook under my own name, but I can also be found on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, where I share photos that have inspired characters and locations in my books.
MARCIA: Neil, thank you for being my July interviewees! I love discovering novels that feature dogs, and I look forward to reading your books!
MONTHLY BLOG EBOOK CONTEST! Would you like to win a Marcia James’ ebook? Visitors to this pro-pet blog can join in the fun, comment, and/or share photos of their pets for a chance to win one of my ebooks!
Each month, I’ll randomly pick one commenter to win. To leave a comment and/or 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!