Lia visited with us in December 2013 to discuss their first in series mystery One Dog Too Many and now they have written the second book featuring dog breeder and kennel owner Mae December, Two Dogs Lie Sleeping (Camel Press; May 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats).
We recently had a chance to catch up with the authors to talk about their series.
Lia Farrell: Our main protagonist and POV character is Mae December, 30 years old, a dog breeder/boarder. Our second narrator is Mae's boyfriend, Ben Bradley, Sheriff of Rose County. Our third narrator is Dory Clarkson, the sheriff's office manager; our last POV character is the Detective in the series, Wayne Nichols. Other characters who appeared in earlier books and that are continuing include Mae's parents, the deputies for the Sheriff's office and Mae's best friend, Tammy Rogers.
OMN: Tell us something about Two Dogs Lie Sleeping that isn't mentioned in the publisher's synopsis.
LF: One of the most important things about this book is that it is a new murder on top of an old murder. In order to solve the contemporary killing, it is necessary to solve the "cold case." The cold case was the death of Ryan, the college roommate of Tom Ferris. Sheriff Bradley suspects that Tom Ferris was warned to leave town after Ryan was killed and now the person who killed Ryan probably killed Tom Ferris. But who killed Ryan? And why?
OMN: Your previous book was based in part on a newspaper article you had read. Does the plot of Two Dogs Lie Sleeping have a similar origin?
LF: No, it is pure fiction. It involves the return of a long lost love, a situation familiar to most women, and about the power of secrets to influence lives.
OMN: How do you go about writing this series as a team?
LF: For Two Dogs Lie Sleeping, we started out using a general idea along these lines; "An interior designer finishing the back entry of the Booth Mansion hears a loud bang. She thinks a mirror has fallen and runs up to the nursery to check on what happened and finds a man dying. She is shocked to find it is her old boyfriend Tommy who disappeared from Rosedale and her life fifteen years ago."
Since we write murder mysteries, we feel that a chapter by chapter outline is critical. In our first book we were two thirds of the way through when we discovered each of us thought a different character was the murderer! There are special challenges writing a book with another person. It can be lots of fun and there can be conflict. We have had plenty of both, but are finding out ways to make it more fun and less contentious.
For Two Dogs Lie Sleeping, we decided that Lyn was going to write chapters narrated by the Sheriff and the Detective and Lisa was going to write the chapters narrated by the main protagonist (Mae December) and her sister (July). We made a chapter list, color coded as to who was going to write each chapter. This method worked much better, although toward the end we had to do a lot of talking to be sure we tied up all the loose ends.
OMN: What kind of research was involved in creating the plot?
LF: The original killing of Ryan, Tommy's college roommate, was committed because he was the fraternity treasurer. He came upon a fiscal anomaly tied to two other fraternity brothers who were planning to throw a football bowl game. The players were paid to lose. It was necessary to do research on how games could be thrown and who would be involved. Luckily, we are both MSU Spartan fans and have many friends who are devotees of football.
OMN: The covers of the books in this series are really quite eye-catching. Are you involved with the cover design?
LF: The book cover continues to be a serendipitous happening. The contract we signed with Camel Press stated that they had control over the cover image. Their graphic designer came up with the idea of using a large typeface of the words of the cover and putting dogs and other items inside the letters. Lyn found images on Shutterstock; images of the dogs in the story, the Booth Mansion and the red convertible Tommy Ferris drove. The graphic designer, who is clearly brilliant, took all of our images and came up with a second perfect cover. We love it, our friends and family love it. We continue to be thrilled.
OMN: What's next for you?
LF: What's next for us writing-wise is creating the third book in our series. It's going to be called Three Dog Day, and will deal with a puppy mill and a murder that occurs on that site.
Lyn is also writing a novel called The Cottonwoods that tells the story of a family's escape from Romania in World War I and their subsequent settlement of a farm in Wisconsin. Told in alternating voices are the stories of Constanta Morand (1916 to 1918) and the experience of her great great granddaughter Jenn Bradshaw who returns to the abandoned family farm, finds Constanta's Journal, repairs the old farmhouse and falls in love.
Lisa has several ideas for children's books that she plans to work on, as well as getting back to painting murals and design consulting.