Laurien Berenson is the author of thirty novels that have sold more than two million copies worldwide. She currently writes the popular Melanie Travis mystery series, published by Kensington, which revolves around the world of dog shows. She released the 19th book in this series, “Live and Let Growl” in July of 2016. I am a huge fan of this series.
Laurien is a four time winner of the Maxwell Award for Fiction from the Dog Writers Association of America. She is a winner of the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She is also an Agatha and Macavity nominee.
Tell us a little bit about the series.
The series has evolved greatly over the last 20 years. (The 20th book, “Murder at the Puppy Fest”) will come out in July 2017. When the books began, Melanie Travis was a single mother of a young son, a school teacher, and a woman whose life was at loose ends. She became involved in solving a mystery with her Aunt Peg, a breeder and exhibitor of Standard Poodles, and that changed everything. Now Melanie also has numerous Standard Poodles, she is remarried to Sam, the love of her life, she has 2 sons, and she works as a special needs tutor at a private academy. It’s a busy life—but the most important constant throughout the series is the characters’ love of dogs and the interactions they enjoy with them.
Give us an insight into your main character. How do you relate to her? What is special about them?
Melanie is smart, kind, curious, and impulsive. She and I both adore animals. That is definitely the biggest thing we have in common.
I think what is special about my characters is that their lives change and develop from book to book. The children age, babies are born, people get new jobs, they make and lose friendships, etc. The Poodles’ lives evolve as well—to me they are every bit as important as the humans in the books. At this point there are around a dozen continuing characters, many of whom make an appearance in each book.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters?
If Jennifer Lawrence was a bit older, she would make a wonderful Melanie Travis (Melanie is in her 30s.) And Ryan Reynolds is perfect for Sam. My dream actress for Aunt Peg would be Helen Mirren.
Your book features standard poodles. (It really made me fall in love with them.) Do you own any and do you show them?
I had Poodles (both Standards and Minis) for more than 30 years. For 20 years, I was an avid dog show exhibitor. My mother also bred and showed dogs and my grandmother was a dog show judge. So dog shows have always been a part of my life. Right now I’m taking a break from grooming, and I have 2 wonderful smooth Collies.
Your books also features a different breed of dog in each book. How do you go about selecting them and do you do much research on that breed?
I love choosing the different breeds I’m going to feature! The only downside is that there are so many wonderful breeds of dogs that it’s difficult to narrow it down each time I start a new book. Some of the breeds I know pretty well, either from exposure at shows or because friends have them. But if it’s a breed I’m not overly familiar with, then yes I do quite a bit of research to make sure I get it right.
Share a little bit about your background. I know you wrote several standalone books in various genres before you started this series.
I always knew that I wanted to be a writer. It just took me a long time to get a novel published. I wrote numerous magazine and newspaper articles along the way before finally getting my start in book length fiction writing romance novels. I wrote 10 romances, 1 YA book, and then 2 psychological suspense books before writing “A Pedigree to Die For,” the first book in this series.
Which writers inspire you?
Anyone who writes well—and there are so many people who do! I am an avid reader. I probably read around 200 books a year, fiction, nonfiction, history, biography. I read almost everything (no horror though, because I’m a big weenie.) I am in awe of authors who can put words together beautifully.
What is your favorite book and why?
I don’t really have 1 favorite but the first book that comes to mind is “West With the Night” by Beryl Markham. A more recent book that made me laugh and cry and want to read it again immediately was “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes.
What book/s are you reading at present?
“Girl on the Golden Coin” by Marci Jefferson (historical fiction)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write something every day. Writing is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. Be determined. Rejection is part of any writer’s life. And stay open-minded. The best route to where you want to go isn’t always the most direct one.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
No, you have asked great questions!
What is your favorite social media site?
Facebook because I love the live interaction.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Laurien-Berenson/e/B000APCF2Q/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
I do love that the series is dynamic and I adore most of the characters. Not always pleased with Aunt Peg but she is a good person. Love, Love Love the dogs!