Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

Novel Magic: Furbabies in Books

Immortalize Your Loved Ones as a Character
Darlene Dziomba

When I decided to adopt a dog. It was important to me to find a dog from an animal shelter. After an exhaustive search I found Tugger. He stood behind the grate in the kennel with a pure look of disbelief on his face. His big brown eyes were so soulful and sad. I could hear him thinking, “I don’t know why I’m here.”

To say Tugger was a character is an understatement of epic proportions. He had an attitude and was not subtle about it. One of my friend’s was driving an incredibly long commute for her job. My house was halfway between her home and her job. Once a week she would spend the night at my house to lessen her drive. Despite Michele bringing him special dog biscuits, Tugger did not like her.

Without fail, every Wednesday, I would come home from work to find that Tugger had pee’d in front of the room Michele would sleep in. As I scrubbed the carpet, trying to get rid of the smell, he would stare at me with a look of smug satisfaction on his face.

People would helpfully suggest that I crate him during the day. The dog crate has not been made that he could not break out of.  Time after time I would come home to find him lying on the couch. He would nod at me in a self-satisfied way.

When Tugger passed over the Rainbow Bridge, I was inconsolable.

I decided to volunteer at the Animal Welfare Association to give back and to be able to interact with dogs. As a volunteer, I learned quite a bit about the operation of a well-run no-kill shelter. One of the Volunteer Coordinators held outreach sessions at which different members of staff talked about their jobs and how they came to be in their careers.

The spark of an idea started me on the journey of being a published author. While listening to a panel at Bouchercon, Toronto, the craziest thought popped into my head; I had never read a book where the protagonist worked at an animal shelter. I would write that. I sketched a plot for Clues From The Canines in which the Adoption Coordinator of an animal shelter finds out someone important to her life is dead by having the person’s dog surrendered.

As I created the characters for Clues From The Canines I wanted dogs to play as important a role in my characters’ lives as they do in mine. My protagonist, Lily Dreyfus, would face challenges, and emotional turmoil, and her dogs would be there to bring comfort. Since Lily works at an animal shelter, it seemed natural for her to have more than one pet. I decided that she would have two hound dogs, named Boone and Crockett.

Boone embodies Tugger. He has a sweet face with big brown soulful eyes. You cannot help but to love him. No matter where he is in the house, if the refrigerator door opens, he suddenly appears in the kitchen.

The true mischievous, spiteful side of Tugger makes its appearance in Boone in the second book in the series, Up Close And Pawsonal. Lily is in a relationship, and often out of the house at night. When she returns she finds an unpleasant puddle, and Boone smugly staring at her from the couch.

Despite the challenges that Tugger presented, I still miss him. I think about how he would sit on the couch in a certain way, so that when I sat next to him, he could put his head on my chest. He’d look at me with those soulful, brown eyes, lick my face a few times, then fall asleep.

Our cherished pets cannot be with us forever. The Lily Dreyfus series has allowed me to immortalize Tugger as Boone.

Fire And Dalmatian to be released in March 2024

Animal Adoption Coordinator and part-time sleuth Lily Dreyfus is about to face her most harrowing investigation. When a fire erupts at the home of a notorious hoarder, the tranquil community’s secrets are set ablaze. Lily’s passion for animals burns brighter than ever as she aids the ASPCA in gathering the cats rendered homeless by the fire. When several cats are found dead, a tangled web of secrets and deceit unfurls, to threaten both innocent creatures and a tight-knit community. Fire And Dalmatian is a riveting journey through the smoky trails of mystery, deceit and redemption. Fans of amateur sleuths, poignant tales of animal welfare, and humor that will make you laugh out loud should add this book to their collection.

Meet Darlene Dziomba

Author poses with her dog. Darlene Dziomba at Sorchia's Universe

Darlene is a member of Sisters in Crime National and several regional SinC groups. She combined her passion for the written word and animals into the Lily Dreyfus series. Darlene volunteers at the Animal Welfare Association, a New Jersey animal shelter, where she chats with the dogs while completing her assignments. She has a 30-year career in Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and is an avid reader, gardener, and traveler.  Darlene lives in New Jersey with her four-legged best friend, Billie.

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