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Behind the story of the Downward Dog Mysteries with Tracy Weber

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Tracy Weber is a yoga instructor who calls her debut mystery, “Murder Strikes a Pose,” a happily-ever-after, human-animal love story. Weber, who says she’s known as “the creepy puppy lady,” talked about the story behind "Murder Strikes a Pose" for this interview.

“A homeless lady used to hang out near the entrance to my neighborhood grocery store,” said Weber. “She always had a large Rottweiler mix in a crate next to her. Because she had a dog and I’m the creepy puppy lady, I often stopped to chat with her. One day, I asked her about the crate. She told me that the Rottweiler lunged at other dogs on the sidewalk. The crate—which she stored behind the building at night—allowed her to keep the dog with her, in spite of its reactivity.”

Weber, who has a German shepherd named Tasha, said, “Tasha has many expensive health conditions, one of which is an autoimmune condition called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. Tasha can’t digest food unless expensive medication is added to every meal. I’m grateful every day that I can afford to give her the medicine she needs to survive.”

“I started to wonder,” said Weber. “What if her dog had Tasha’s illness as well as its behavior issues? What would she do? What could she do? That’s when the story of George—a homeless alcoholic—and his crazy dog Bella formed in my head. I want to be clear: George is not that woman—not even close. But like her, he knows the joy and heartache that come from deep love for an imperfect creature.”

“Murder Strikes a Pose” touches on the issues of homelessness, alcoholism, grief, and animal rescue. With those serious issues as the backdrop, Weber set out to write her first novel. “My goal in writing the book was never to get on a pulpit and preach; it was to tell a light-hearted love story. Don’t get me wrong. Murder Strikes a Pose is a murder mystery, not a romance. Still, at its heart, my first book is a story about love.”

Weber added, “In the book—as in real life—love isn’t always easy. ‘Murder Strikes a Pose’ illustrates how love can damage us, if we let it. Throughout its pages, normally good people do extreme—some might say evil—acts to protect those they love. But beyond that, the story shows how love transforms us, when we are ready. In the end, it asserts that love saves us.”

As a first-time novelist, Weber said it took a couple of years from the time she had the idea for the story to when she actually began writing. “My biggest personal challenge was finding the fortitude to actually sit down and start writing. Once I overcame that barrier, I wrote the first draft in three weeks. To be completely honest, that first draft was awful. I spent almost a year fixing it.”

Weber is now writing regularly and even has a sequel due out in 2015. The book, titled “A Killer Retreat,” is set on Orcas Island, a small island off the Washington coast. Weber considers herself luck because she gets to write about what she loves.

“I’ve taught yoga since 2000 and I opened my own yoga studio in 2001. Dogs—particularly my own special-needs dog Tasha—are my passion, and I’ve loved reading mysteries since the Nancy Drew days of my youth. Combining the worlds of yoga, dogs, and mystery comes naturally to me. I wrap my funny dog incidents and yoga lessons up in a mystery and call it fiction.”

While Weber writes about subjects that are close to her, she tries to avoid writing about people she knows. She said, “It just seems mean somehow, since I will inevitably kill them off or make them a murder suspect. Unlike my protagonist, Kate, I have no cute pet store guy in my life; no sleazy landlord; I don’t even have a friend like Rene, though I’d certainly like to.”

“Murder Strikes a Pose” offers readers a chance to explore the world of yoga while reading a funny mystery. Weber said, “You don’t have to practice—or even have tried—yoga to connect with the book. ‘Murder Strikes a Pose’ is about friendship, loss, forgiving yourself, and finding love where you least expect it. Yoga is simply the backdrop.”

Anyone who has ever walked a dog on a regular basis knows that strange things can happen when you least expect it, and Weber is no exception. “My best ideas come to me when I’m walking Tasha—primarily because she gets us in such funny predicaments. I do research my books, but many of the specific dog situations are based on Tasha’s and my crazy shenanigans. Yoga, dogs, and murder. What could be more fun?”

More information

Tracy Weber is a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle. Learn more about Tracy Weber on her website at TracyWeberAuthor.com. She's also giving away a copy of "Murder Strike a Pose" at terryambrose.com.

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