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Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Spotlight: Marcia James

Hi! It's great to visit LASR this week and discuss one of my favorite topics -- dogs! ;-) Today, I'm blogging about fictional dogs, those 4-legged characters that make books so much fun.

When I wrote my first novel, comic romantic suspense At Her Command, I knew I needed the perfect canine foil for my DEA agent heroine. And what better drug-sniffing dog to go undercover than a tiny Chinese crested hairless dog? Who would suspect that unusual and petite breed of working for its Kibble? That character, Smokey, became my author logo.

[Speaking of Kibble, if you'd like a good laugh, check out this YouTube video of a Corgi doing his "Kibble Dance":]

Several of my readers questioned whether such a small dog would actually be used to fight crime, so I wrote the following mini-article:

Tiny Canines Take a Big Bite Out Of Crime

Move over German shepherds and Doberman pinchers! There’s a new breed of crimefighter on the street. Law enforcement agencies are adding toy dogs to their K-9 units. No ten-pound weaklings, these miniature hounds have the same keen senses as their larger brothers, combined with the ability to search smaller, tighter spaces for everything from drugs to explosives.

The partnership between police and specially-trained dogs has a long, proud history. In 1888 in England, two bloodhounds were used to search for Jack the Ripper. And large breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, have been trained for everything from crowd control to cadaver recovery. It’s not surprising these valiant dogs have found their way into fiction, such as romantic suspense author Iris Johansen’s search-and-rescue dog and mystery author Virginia Lanier’s tracking bloodhounds.

In the early 1960s, South American officers chose smaller dogs to search ships for smuggled coffee. And the Belgian Malinois, a lighter, quicker version of a German shepherd, has been used by the military for years. Navy SEALs parachute into enemy territory with Belgian Malinois partners, jumping in tandem with the dogs. In addition to size, the dispositions of breeds are being taken into consideration, too. U.S Custom’s officials employ beagles to sniff luggage for banned items, praising the poochs’ pleasant personalities.

Law enforcement agencies, sued by suspects who claim large K-9 dogs damaged their property, are considering smaller breeds, too. Until recently, however, toy dogs were deemed too fragile for crimefighting. But an Ohio police department took a risk and appears to hold the record for the tiniest drug-sniffing canine: six-pound Midge, a Chihuahua-rat terrier mix.

Midge, who has her own tiny vest and goggles for riding on the sheriff’s motorcycle, has been a PR phenomenon. Adults, including county jail prisoners, ask to pet her, and she’s a hit at local schools. Midge shows youngsters you don’t have to be big to make a difference. Here's a link to a CBS video of Midge at work:

Many officers, however, are embarrassed to have a tiny K-9 partner, finding the miniature mutts un-macho. The potential for humor in such a situation is irresistible to me. And it's always fun when an animal "matchmaker" has a hand…er, paw in the hero and heroine’s happily-ever-after.

Since the release of At Her Command, every one of my books has included a Chinese crested hairless dog. But "cresties" aren't the only non-human characters in my books.

In my latest book, Sex & the Single Therapist -- the first in the "Dr. Ally Skye, Sex Therapist" comic romantic mystery series -- Ally has two cats, Crystal and Karma. And Marty, a big, black-and-white mutt who holds the world record for shedding fur, plays an important role in both the mystery and the romance. I really enjoyed having my Alpha hero, police detective Zack Crawford, fall for both the dog and the sexy sex therapist. Now if he could just stop worrying Ally's going to grade him in bed...

I'd love to hear about some of your favorite fictional animal characters! In addition to LASR's weekly prize, I'm giving away five copies of my At Her Command e-book this week (one a day) to a reader chosen randomly from each day's comments.

Happy reading!
-- Marcia James

For a chance to win this weekly prize, answer the question you find here. For an extra chance, leave a comment.


Marcia James said...

It's great to be a LASR guest-blogger! I look forward to chatting about dogs and other pets all week.

-- Marcia ;-)

Jodelle55 said...

I LOVE dogs and this was a very interesting article about dogs and your novels. Can't wait to read more of your romantic comedies.

Jane said...

Hi Marcia,
I've seen pics of those Chinese crested hairless dogs.

janie1215 AT excite DOT com

wanda f said...

I love dogs so much I work in a doggie daycare and get to play with at least 50 a day then come home to my own two babies .You are a new to me author and I am very excited about reading your books they souns fantastic .Have a great week.

Marcia James said...

Hi, Jody! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments!
-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

Hi, Jane! I hope the photos of cresties you've seen were of showdogs! Usually the photos that get circulated are the Ugliest Dog contest winners. Poor babies.

-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

Hi, Wanda! I envy your getting to play with so many dogs! What a great way to spend the day!

-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

The winner of my first blog's free e-book is Wanda f!! Congratulations, Wanda! I'll email you directly to see what format you want the e-book in.

I'll be giving away a free e-book every day this week, along with the grand prize, so don't forget to stop my my guest blogs 8/29 - 9/2!

-- Marcia ;-)

SiNn said...

I lovee your books marcia and i love dogs great pics and post ty

SiNn said...

honestlu thats kind of hard lol i forgot to answer ur question

I love all of ur animals in ur books but ir eally dontr ead a whole lot of books with pets that have ahuge roll in books

Marcia James said...

Hi, SiNn! Nice of you to drop by! ;-) My To Be Read pile of books is so high it's become a mountain, and I think at least
2/3rds of it are books with animal characters. ;-)

Have a great day!
-- Marcia ;-)