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Leighann Dobbs: Cat Sleuths and New Perspectives

USA Today bestselling author Leighann Dobbs explains why she writes cozy mysteries from a cat's perspective and how she's still learning new writing skills.

USA Today bestselling author Leighann Dobbs discovered her passion for writing after a twenty-year career as a software engineer. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Bruce, their trusty Chihuahua mix, Mojo, and beautiful rescue cat, Kitty. When she's not reading, gardening, making jewelry, or selling antiques, she likes to write cozy mystery and historical romance books.

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In this post, Dobbs explains why she writes cozy mysteries from a cat's perspective,  how she's still learning new writing skills, and more!

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Name: Leighann Dobbs
Literary agent: Kathryn Taussig/ Bookouture
Book title: A Whisker in the Dark
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release date: January 12, 2021
Genre: Mystery & Detective/Cat Cozy
Previous titles: A Twist in the Tail
Elevator pitch for the book: USA Today bestselling author, Leighann Dobbs, brings you a pawsitively purrfect whodunit as a treasure-hunting guest winds up dead, leaving it to Nero and Marlowe, two resident cats, to dig up the truth.

DOBBS_A WHISKER IN THE DARK_9781538736210 _MM

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What prompted you to write this book?

This book is the second in a series, so I had planted some seeds in book 1 about the main idea of this book, but the quirky characters just sort of took on a life of their own after that. Cat detectives are my favorite characters to write. As a cat lover myself, I’m very curious to know what my cats are thinking, and it’s a lot of fun writing that out in a book. I’m sure if my cat could talk, she would tell me that my assumptions about how they think is all wrong.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

I think it took about six months. I already had the characters and setting and seed idea about the skeleton in the wall. I have a very detailed outline process, but small parts of the outline changed during the process, things like the relationships between the characters and various clues. During the writing of the scenes, ideas just seem to pop up, and if they are good, I include them even if they weren’t in the outline in the first place.

(5 Tips on How to Write a Cunning but Cozy Mystery Novel)

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

Yes! My wonderful editors are always full of surprises, and for this book, I actually ended up weaving in another suspect on their advice. I’d never done anything like that and was afraid that I’d ruin the whole book, but it made the book much better, and I learned a new skill and got over my fear of making major changes.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

The only surprises were that sometimes the cats would say something I hadn’t intended. That’s always fun for me when a sentence of dialogue pops in. But, since the story is a cozy mystery and sticks to the rules of the genre and I do a thorough outline ahead of the writing, there isn’t much that comes up.

(Changing the Face of Crime Fiction: 6 Writers of Color on Writing Mysteries, Crime Novels and Thrillers)

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope this is the kind of book that leaves the reader with a smile on their face. I try to write books that are just relaxing and fun, and perhaps reminiscent of simpler times.

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If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

When you are stuck or procrastinating, just start with one sentence at a time. Sounds simple, but it really does work. Soon you will be writing the next sentence and then the next, and before you know it, your novel will be done! 

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