Monday, June 28, 2010
Interview With Berkley Author, Kandy Shepherd
Kandy Shepherd lived her early years in Sri Lanka, India, England and Ireland before settling in Sydney, Australia. Although she had a passion for animals, children in India were not allowed to pet them for fear of rabies. She was desperate for a cat or dog of her own, and after moving to a Sydney suburbia, she got her wish and has never been without at least one pet since, believing her life is not complete without an animal to love. A fortune teller once told her that in every one of her "former lives" she was surrounded by animals!
After working her way up to be editor-in-chief of several mass-market titles in Australia and England, ending up as editorial director of a major magazine publisher, she turned to fiction writing. After numerous rejections, she was finally published, first with short stories, then a category-type romance with a small Australian publisher. But it wasn't until she joined first Romance Writers of Australia and then Romance Writers of America that she began to understand the market. And when she got feedback from editors praising her "comedic voice" she realized angst might not be her forte!
When the call came from Berkley to publish Love Is A Four-Legged Word, she was thrilled beyond belief. She's here today to tell us about her latest book.
Liz: Tell me about your July 6 release from Berkley Sensation, Home Is Where the Bark Is.
KS: Liz, first off, thank you so much for inviting me to Mysteries and Margaritas. Home Is Where the Bark Is is a tale of romance, mystery and dogs. Serena Oakley owns an upscale doggy day care and spa in San Francisco and is suspicious of her hunky new client with his mismatched Yorki-poo. Serena is right to be wary as Nick Whalen is an undercover PI investigating an identity fraud, and Serena is his prime suspect. But when Serena’s safety is threatened they have to trust in each other enough to thwart the danger.
Liz: Both Home Is Where the Bark Is and your debut novel Love is a Four-Legged Word feature dogs as part of the plots. Did you set out to write “doggy” books?
KS: I set out to write warm, light-hearted romance with endearing—human!—characters. However, animals are such an important part of my life that they became part of my fictional peoples’ lives, too. Before I knew it, the doggy characters became important secondary characters, and essential to the plot.
Liz: Do we see the story through the point of view of a dog?
KS: My doggy characters don’t talk. We don’t see inside their minds. They’re animals. Not people. But like the real animals I love, my fictional animals are distinct personalities with their own quirks and loveable qualities.
Liz: There’s a well-known warning about working with kids or animals.
KS. I had to be careful writing Love Is A Four-Legged Word that Brutus, the ugly little mutt who inherits a multi-million dollar fortune, didn’t overshadow the heroine Maddy and the hero Tom. In Home Is Where The Bark Is Mack, the injured, orphaned mutt who helps bring Serena and Nick together couldn’t be allowed to steal the show.
Liz: What about the mystery element in Home Is Where the Bark Is?
KS. The book is more focused on romance than mystery but the mystery is important too. I’m the kind of person who nearly always guesses “whodunit” (much to the annoyance of my family and friends!) and I really try to keep my readers guessing throughout the course of the novel.
Liz: Tell me about your own animals.
KS: I share my life with a dog, three cats, four horses, two miniature bulls and twelve chickens. I love them all and would have more if my husband didn’t make his objections known! (Here she is with Molly.)
Liz: Serena, the heroine of your second book, is a secondary character in your first book. Did you set out to write a linked series?
KS: Not really, though I love reading them. I really liked writing Serena; so much so she stayed in my mind after I typed “The End”. To help her best friend Maddy out on her magazine, Serena posed semi-nude in a bathtub of chocolate and the photos ended up as an ad campaign. I wondered how that kind of publicity would affect her. Then I drove past a new doggy day care center. What a great job for a dog nut like Serena!. What if I wrote Serena her own book where she had given up modeling and owned her own doggy day-care? And what if I created a gorgeous hero who was as scathing about the idea of pooch pampering? And so the idea for Home Is Where the Bark Is was born.
Liz: One last question. I think our readers would love to hear how you sold to Berkley WITHOUT an agent!!!!!
KS. I hope it is encouraging to hear that I sold my debut novel Love is a Four-Legged Word through the slush pile at Berkley. I could not interest an agent in the manuscript so sent the required three chapters and a synopsis to Berkley, who were accepting unagented submissions. Fifteen months later, when I had virtually forgotten that I had sent the partial, I got a request for the full manuscript. A further six months later I got “The Call”. It was actually an email but no less exciting! Once I had the offer, I contacted an agent I had met at a conference whom I liked very much. She liked my manuscript enough to represent me and I signed with her. Publishing is definitely a waiting game and I think there is also a degree of luck involved. My manuscript landed on the desk of a newly promoted assistant editor who loved it and it went from there.
Me: And that, folks, should really make your day. Having an agent in your corner is the best case scenario, but it can be done without one. Thanks, Kandy for stopping by to chat with us. I hope the readers will have lots of comments for you because one lucky one will win a copy of Home Is Where the Bark Is. Fire away.