C. A. (Carol Ann) Newsome writes the Lia Anderson Dog Park Mysteries, a series of fun, romantic suspense/mystery novels inspired by and centered around her mornings at the Mount Airy Dog Park with two former street urchins named Shadda and Chewy (Chewbacca Wonderpup, Master of Confusion), along with a furry piranha named Gypsy Foo la Beenz (see picture at left).
A life-long lover of fiction, Carol turned to books and audiobooks during her decade-long recovery from a head injury. Years of immersing herself in popular fiction lead to imagining the book she wanted to read, and wondering if she could write it. The result was the first book in her mystery series.
She is also an artist with an M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati. You’ll see portraits of some of her favorite four-footed friends on the covers of her books. She enjoys creating community-based public artworks. As an artist, she is best known for her New Leaf Global Good-Will Guerrilla Art Project.
Her other interests include astrology, raw food and all forms of psychic phenomena. She likes to sing to her dogs. The dogs are the only ones who like to listen.
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH C. A. NEWSOME (Digital Book Today)
What does the C. A. stand for?
Carol Ann. I needed my name to fit on one line on book covers, so I shortened it.
How would you describe your books?
My dog park mysteries are a genre mash-up. I love fun mysteries and romantic suspense and thrillers, so I put all of that in, the way I used to pile everything I liked on my peanut butter sandwiches as a child. You could call them the love children of Nora Roberts and John Sandford. One Amazon review referred to A Shot in the Bark as a “cozy with backbone.” I really like that.
What inspired you to write dog park mysteries?
I knew what I would write long before I ever knew I was going to write.
I take my three rescues to the Mount Airy Dog Park every day, have for ten years. There’s a regular morning crowd. We’re always watching the parking lot to see who comes in, if they’re a friend, or if they have a dog that’s known to be aggressive.
People without dogs often pull in, sometimes to take naps, sometimes to meet someone for what we assume is an illicit assignation. We’re always speculating about these folks. It reminds me of oddball bands of detectives, like Scooby-Doo or the Camel Club. I kept joking that we needed to have dog park mysteries. Then one day a dead body turned up, and the speculation ran rampant for days.
A Dead Body? Seriously?
A women drove her white panel van into the parking lot one night and shot herself. Three of my good friends found the body the next morning. By the time I arrived, the police had the park blocked off.
Since only serial killers and career criminals own white panel vans, I was convinced it was an execution of some kind. We were all comparing notes. One regular said she saw the van the day before and two guys got out of the van (without dogs) and walked back in the woods. I just knew it was a drug deal gone wrong.
It was all nonsense. Sometimes a suicide is just a suicide.
What’s different about your books?
I have fun with the books, but I try to keep the characters real. Several of my characters are based on long-time dog park friends. We’re all really different, but we do our best to get along.
Lia Anderson is an artist who gets by, but barely. When things happen, they affect her. You see her hurt and you see her grow as a person and you see her struggle with her relationship issues. In my world view, if someone dies, you should grieve. If someone betrays you, you should be hurt. And If someone tries to kill you, you should be traumatized. Events have ripples that carry through the series.
The first book, A Shot in the Bark, deals with the premise of the serial killer hiding in plain sight. We see people every day at the dog park. They become our friends, but what do we really know about them? Not much. Who’s to say there isn’t a serial killer at your dog park?
How about Lia? Is she based on anyone?
I spent many years pursuing an art career, and I draw on that. Lia is more successful at selling her art than I ever was. She has the social skills to make her living that way, which I didn’t. She’s also nicer than me.
We do have the same schizophrenic diet, though. Green smoothies one day, cheeseburgers and pizza the next.
Speaking of food, what exactly did you put on those peanut butter sandwiches?
I’d start with white bread, then a layer of margarine on one side with peanut butter on top. Then I’d add banana slices, put marshmallow fluff on the other side, and Yum!
I didn’t learn about whole wheat bread, butter or cream cheese until I left home. Today, If I wanted to make a treat, I’d brown a whole wheat tortilla in butter and layer on chocolate chips and pecan pieces while it’s heating.Maybe toss on banana slices. When it’s done, I’d add a slice of cream cheese and fold it over. And I’d pretend it’s good for me. Darn it, now I want one.
You mentioned romantic suspense. Where’s the romance?
A dead body brings detective Peter Dourson onto the scene, and he is smitten with Lia. He’s a country boy with old-fashioned ideas about romance. He’s quieter, more of an observer. Not Lia’s type, and the timing is bad. But he’s a “still waters” kinda guy. He runs deep.
What can we expect next from Lia and her friends?
In Maximum Security, Lia takes on a foster-dog inspired by my escape artist, Max. If there’s a way out, Max will find it. And she likes to bring back souvenirs. She’s old and creaky now, but I will never trust her off-lead, no matter how many times Tom (A.K.A. “Jim”) insists she’s too old to run off. If they neglect to lock her coffin, she’ll jump out of the hearse on the way to the cemetery.
There is a dead body, of course. And I think maybe Peter is shopping for a ring. I wonder if Lia is ready for it.
Sounds like fun! Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
If one of my books entertains you, I’m happy. And I love hearing from readers. Thanks For having me!
You can contact Carol using the form below.