Sandra Baublitz lives in Maryland with her two cats, Socky and Miss Kitty. When she’s not writing, she enjoys yoga, walks in nature, reading mysteries and romance novels, and gardening.
How did you get started writing fiction, and how did you first get published?
I was a teenager when a short essay I wrote about my dog, Buffy, was published by Grit Magazine. Grit was a magazine my grandmother loved to read, and they were looking for submissions about beloved pets. My Lhasa Apso fit the bill, as they say, and I was delighted to find that Grit published it.
I wrote my first mystery short story in my early twenties for a mystery contest Woman’s Day magazine offered. My fellow co-worker and I both entered, unfortunately neither of us won. That story became my first self-published Dog Detective short, “The Mystery of the Blue Dolphins.” Since then I have self-published four more shorts, a short story collection, and the first novel all in the Dog Detective Series.
Your Dog Detective Series centers around a St. Bernard. What inspired you to select that breed to star in your books?
I’ve always loved Saints, but two things spurred my choice of them for the series. The first was when a co-worker brought her St. Bernard puppy to work. He was this cuddly, fluffy bundle of joy and I fell in love instantly. Around the same time, the original Beethoven movie came out. Mischief and mayhem wrapped up in a furry, soulful brown-eyed dog. Who could resist? I couldn’t. But my Lhasa was elderly and my family didn’t want a new addition, so writing about a Saint was my way of loving the breed.
Your first book, Mastiffs, Mystery, and Murder, takes place at a dog show. Have you ever shown a dog in a dog show?
No. I haven’t. I’ve been to local amateur dog shows and watched dog shows on television. The National Dog Show is one of my favorites.
In this book, most of the people who participate in the dog show are really eager to help each other out. That goes against the stereotype of dog shows being an unfriendly, overly competitive world. What is the reality like?
Everyone at the local shows seemed friendly although I wasn’t competing. In my research, I have come across news articles where sabotage was suspected at shows. I suppose it is like any competitive sport or endeavor. There will always be some people who take competing too seriously, but I think most dog fanciers just love to show off their dogs.
Your St. Bernard is named Paw. But that’s just a shortened version of his name? What’s his full name, and how did he get it?
His full name is Paudius Pernivious. You know I honestly can’t remember why I named him that. My guess is that it hadn’t been too long since I graduated high school where we studied French and other languages. I suppose I was adding a little flare to his name. His shortened name, Paw, is how I think of him and suits him the best.
Tell us about your writing process. How do you develop your plots and books?
I tend to be more of what is called a pantser. Plotting by the seat of your pants. I’ll get an idea and just follow along as the characters come to life and drive the plot. Ideas may pop into my head, or I may dream them, or someone says something that sparks an idea.
Mastiffs was inspired by Murder at the Cat Show by Marian Babson. I’ve always loved her book and thought why not do one with dogs?
The Blue Dolphins began from the contest where a specific set of clues had to be included which provided a framework for the story.
I try to schedule writing time every day, but that doesn’t always happen. I usually attempt a word count but often will have periods where I lapse and others where I write prolificly, as the characters and scenes flow vividly in my mind.
Do you design your characters very meticulously, or do they spring to life fully formed from your mind?
Ah. Characters. I don’t design them ahead of time. I let them define themselves. I’ll start with a few characteristics, and as I write I find that they develop on their own and tell me their story.
What draws you to mysteries as a genre, both to read and to write?
I’ve always loved cozy mysteries. I was fortunate to have a teacher introduce me to Agatha Christie. One thing that intrigues me is the solving of a puzzle. I want to figure out whodunit. Who is lying? Who had the most to gain? How people tick. But cozies are my favorite because all this criminal activity is set in a safe, comfortable world.
As far as writing them, I love constructing the puzzle. How will I keep my reader guessing before the end reveal? What clues can I place that makes the solution obvious at the end? I want to give my readers a fair chance at solving the crime. And, of course, animals enliven the book where I can share my love and respect for our intelligent furry companions
You are known as a big animal lover. Tell us about your own fur babies.
I have two cats – Socky and Miss Kitty. Socky is a black and white tuxedo male. Miss Kitty is an all-black female. Miss Kitty is a stray I rescued. She came to us so starved her ribs showed. It took patience and love, but now she is happy to sit on my lap, or sleep on my bed, or play with her stick toy. Socky lived with our neighbor but decided he preferred to live with us. He is the ultimate lap cat. I often write with him on my lap, purring.
What books and/or authors would you say have been most influential to your own writing career?
Agatha Christie was the first cozy author I read, and of course, she is the Queen of Mystery. I learned how to plot and place clues and character motivation from her books. Sherlock Holmes taught me observation. Recent authors who influenced my work include Sofie Kelly, whose Magical Cats Mysteries are my favorites. Plus, Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who Series. Both ladies taught me how to include detective animals in a cozy, in my case a dog.
You can check out Sandra at
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Baublitz/e/B00G7O1B7Y/