Linda Howard

RWA Lifetime Achievement Award-Winning Suspense Author

The Dog of Troublemaker

Behind the StoryJulie Trelstad

I put my dogs in "Troublemaker," in the form of the heroine's golden retriever, Tricks. Everything that Tricks does, one of mine has done at one time or another, but a lot of the antics and behaviors belong to Sugar, who was hands (paws?) down the most intelligent dog I've ever seen. And a diva. And she held a grudge. Just ask LJ, who unknowingly committed a grievous sin against her, and Sugar never forgot or forgave. I was the only human she obeyed, because she was so Alpha she figured that if I could get the better of her then I had to be the Most High Goddess of the Universe. She was a connoisseur, choosing the color of ball she wanted (and they say dogs can't distinguish colors. Baloney! Sugar preferred pink, every time), and whenever something was presented to her she wanted options, so she could choose between them. I cut three scenes with Tricks out of the book, but I saved them, and with the book being released in less than a month I figured it was time to start posting them. This one is just a short scene.

"Bo watched as the deputy crossed the street and opened the passenger door of the Jeep, then released Tricks from her harness. He wasn't fast enough to catch her leash, though. Tricks jumped down and immediately trotted to the curb, her expression a little anxious as she searched for Bo. As always, she stopped at the curb and looked both right and left, a trick that delighted all the kids in town whenever they saw her do it, then she dashed across the street, leash trailing, and came straight to the door of the bakery, with the deputy in hot pursuit as he made repeated grabs for her leash. Ignoring any health department regulations about animals in a food establishment, another deputy opened the door and let Tricks in. She darted to Bo, her whole body wagging with joy at being reunited. Bo received a thorough sniffing from her feet up, then a lick on the hand, then she was abandoned because the smells of food took Tricks' interest. Tricks made a beeline for the display cases and stood in front of them, her tail swishing back and forth as she seemed to peruse the baked goods."

Huh. There must have been something in the air last year. Nora Roberts' OBSESSION has a pretty great dog in it. My TROUBLEMAKER has an awesome dog in it :-). Iris Johansen's HIDE AWAY next month has a dog in it. Three writers who have known each other for decades independently write books with dogs in them, that all come out together in a clump. What are the odds? But it happens so often, writers coming up with titles or plot twists or even character names that all of a sudden are everywhere, that you have to believe the universe throws it out there, and the people who are in tune pick up on it. Often when LJ and I are working together, we will independently write the same scene. Once Beverly and I had the same villain in the books we were writing, without us having talked about what we were doing AT ALL. It's just weird, but after all these years in the business, I accept it. The universe is listening.