Rhodes Review: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Tracy Weber: The idea came to me on a rainy evening about three years ago, while in the middle of a brutal workout at my favorite health club. I was pedaling away, reading a Susan Conant novel to distract myself from the evil exercise bike, when a quote from Black Ribbon about crazy dog people made me burst out loud laughing. I knew I’d found my author soul mate. Someone who truly got me.
I went home, looked her up on the web, and stumbled across a site about cozy mysteries. As I read about hundreds of other wonderful cozy series, I began to wonder: What would happen if a yoga teacher with a crazy dog like mine got mixed up in murder? Kate Davidson and Bella popped into my head a few days later. The rest is history.
Rhodes Review: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Tracy Weber: I’m lucky. I own my own business, so I’m able to work any eighteen hours a day I want. Seriously, sometimes it feels that way. My writing ebbs and flows based on the other competing priorities of my life. Sometimes several weeks will go by without my having time to write a word. Other times I write nonstop. I’m most creative late at night, which drives my husband crazy. Most weeks I probably dedicate thirty hours or more to fiction writing. Blogs and other writing are on top of that.
Rhodes Review: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Tracy Weber: It varied over time. First, I wanted to be a horse rancher. Then a veterinarian. By the time I left for college, I was going to be a doctor. I ended up with a Chemical Engineering degree. Twenty years later, I owned a yoga studio. Now I write mysteries. No wonder my husband says I have career ADD!
Rhodes Review: Which of your characters is most/least like you, and in what way(s)?
Tracy Weber: On the surface, Kate and I are a lot alike. We both own yoga studios in Seattle, are vertically challenged, have body image issues, and are head-over-heals in love with a ginormous German shepherd. But personality-wise, I’m closer to Rene. A plotter, a trickster, a conniver, but completely loyal to my friends. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Rhodes Review: Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Tracy Weber: Write what you love. You may not become famous. You may never even get published. But you’ll spend your days immersed in your passions. What could be better than that?
Rhodes Review: What inspired you to write Murder Strikes a Pose?
Tracy Weber: Wow. So many things. I’ve talked about Susan Conant, yoga, and my certifiably crazy dog obsession in other blogs. Those three things together definitely inspired me to write this series. My tag line says it perfectly: “Yoga, dogs, and murder. What could be more fun?”
My dog, Tasha, has some of the same issues as Bella. She’s huge, not always perfectly-well behaved, and she has a variety of expensive health conditions, yet I adore her to a fault. Living with Tasha has changed my life, in every way for the better. At the same time, she gets me into some pretty funny situations sometimes. My yoga students have been putting up with my “Tasha stories” for years now, so writing them down seemed like a no-brainer.
A human inspired the plot of Murder Strikes a Pose, however. A homeless lady used to hang out near the entrance to my neighborhood grocery store, and she always had a large Rottweiler mix in a crate next to her. Over time, I got to know them both, and I asked her about the crate. She told me that the Rottweiler would sometimes lunge at other dogs that walked by on the sidewalk. The crate—which she stored behind the building at night—allowed her to keep the dog with her, in spite of its reactivity.
The lady (I’m so sorry I never learned her name!) adored that dog and went to great lengths to take care of it, in spite of her own financial issues and living conditions. She was as dedicated to her pet as most people are to their children.
I started to wonder: What if her dog had Tasha’s illnesses as well as its behavior issues? What would she do? What could she do? That’s when Bella and George formed in my head. I want to be clear: George is not that woman—not even close. He has alcoholism and many other issues that she did not have. But like her, he knows the joy and heartache that come from deep love for an imperfect creature.
Unfortunately, she disappeared from the neighborhood long before I wrote the first draft of Murder Strikes a Pose. I haven’t seen her almost two years, so I’ll probably never know what she would have thought about being my muse. I hope she would have felt complimented.
Rhodes Review: What was your favorite part of the book?
Tracy Weber: It’s not one specific part or scene, but I loved seeing Kate grow and learn to love herself by learning to love Bella. I completely believe that love transforms us, when we are willing to allow it to. And no love is more pure than that of a human and an animal. We enter into a relationship with animals in which we know the ultimate outcome. Most animals’ lives are significantly shorter than ours. And yet, if we allow ourselves, we can find a beauty and self-sacrifice in that relationship that is at the same time deeper and more meaningful than almost any other. Kate fights that depth with every cell of her commitment-wary soul. And yet ultimately, that is what saves her. We should all be so lucky.
Rhodes Review: What are your favorite authors/books?
Tracy Weber: I adore light-hearted, dog-related mysteries, above all. Susan Conant, Laurien Berenson, Sheila Boneham, and Waverly Curtis are some of my favorites. I also love a good legal thriller, though I haven’t read one in awhile.