Writing a Purrfect Thriller with Claws

Amy-Shojai-hit-and-run

Guest post by Amy Shojai
This post contains affiliate links*

Thank you, Ingrid, for allowing me to share about my latest book, Hit and Run. Many folks know about my nonfiction that covers cat and dog care and behavior. Not as many may know that I also write fiction that features pets. I call my fiction “Thrillers With Bite!” because they all include heroic pets and their human partners.

Hit an Run is the 5th book in my September and Shadow Thriller series. It’s so much fun when a character (especially an animal character) inspires a plot twist, or solution to a story problem. Hey, in my real life, my own pets do that all the time, don’t yours?

Writing a purrfect thriller

These thrillers include mayhem and murder and cover darker subject matter than the typical “animal mystery.” Although pet characters often may be at risk, I don’t ever kill my animal heroes in the stories. No, it’s only the people who become victims, and usually the bad guys get what’s coming to them!

My main character September has gone through the wringer, and partners with her PTSD dog Shadow. But her trained Maine Coon cat Macy rescued her emotionally. He’s a gorgeous fellow with coffee-dark fur and green eyes that match September’s hair and eyes. In past books, Macy “nailed” bad guys (on command); suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy currently under control (trained to easily take his meds); and bossed his dog friend around. Hey, that’s what cats do in real life, right?

But like many cats, Macy learns by observation. He also watches Shadow, and often learns new skills and demands to be included. For instance, in Hit and Run, Macy knows how to fetch car keys, and has learned to track lost cats. Those skills figures prominently in the plot.

I include dog viewpoint chapters in all the books. This time around, Macy also has chapters that show the story through a cat’s purr-ceptions. No, they don’t talk—they just act, react, and perceive situations as I imagine pets would. Early reviews seem to love the cat’s chapters just as much as I do, so future books in the series likely will continue to include these fun feline viewpoint scenes.

Name that hero cat!

I also get to highlight the best of our cats and dogs in the stories by including hero six pets from readers in the story after they won the Name That Dog and Name That Cat contest. Three gorgeous cats nominated by readers become hero cats in Hit and Run. This time around, even the cat names inspired plot twists!

Sherlock, a rescued feral kitten, proved too savvy for the live trap (hence his name), and was nominated by Lisa Mahoney. “He was filthy dirty and quite wild and wouldn’t let me touch him at first.  But little by little I was able to gain his trust. When I was able to wash him for the first time, I was shocked to discover that this dirty little “grey” kitten was actually pure white. And he had beautiful green eyes.” In Hit and Run,  Sherlock bonds closely with a young girl at the Maine Coon cattery, defends her from the bad guy, and guards important information vital to solving the mystery. He also becomes a seizure-alert cat (yes, there is such a thing!).

Kate Holly-Clark nominated her cat, Meriwether. “Meriwether was named after the explorer Meriwether Lewis because he’s into everything! ….He’s also a bit of an idiot and a real klutz. He falls backward off couch arms, into boxes, and is constantly trying to climb things and scrabbling hopelessly and sans dignity to make it.” In Hit and Run, Meriwether acts as a protector and guard cat, facing down a Rottweiler police dog. He ends up with Theodore “Teddy” Williams (from previous books) and I’m sure will have exciting explorations in future stories.

Darla Taylor nominated her cat. “Kahlua was a cat I adopted after a car accident in 1994 that left me in bad condition. …I adopted Kahlua who was a female black and white Norwegian Forest Cat and she became my unofficial therapy cat. She was three years old when I got her, and I lost her when she was thirteen. Kahlua was beautiful and always knew when I was anxious or feeling down. She would climb in my lap and interact with me bringing me out of my mood.” In Hit and Run, Kahlua saves a woman from being injured in a fire. He becomes her therapy cat.

Why pet-centric thrillers, why mayhem?

Why write thrillers about mayhem, murder, bad guys, and conspiracies? I’ve always had a vivid imagination. In fact, when I can find the time, I enjoy performing on stage, and even wrote the STRAYS musical featuring pets—another way to bend reality and make stuff up.

During these challenging days, weeks, and months of an extraordinary year, my pets save me. Writing a thrilling fiction story helped me escape the darker reality of the real world. I do put my main character September and her friends through the wringer, but she comes out the other side a stronger, and happier, more hopeful person—and so do the hero pets. I write thrillers because I get to control the outcome where good triumphs over evil, and hope lives for a brighter future.

What’s Hit and Run about?

The story stands alone, so even if you’ve not read the others in the series, fans of pet-centric thrillers should enjoy the book. I suspect you may want to go back and read the others: Lost and Found, Hide and Seek, Show and Tell, and Fight or Flight.

This is the set up for Hit and Run:

A message from the grave. An assassin on her tail. Sniffing out the truth could get them all killed.

September Day is ready for a new start with her detective boyfriend. Believing she’s finally put her husband’s death behind her, her life upends when his mother sends her a safety deposit box key that could unlock the truth. But before she can examine the cryptic contents, she’s brutally attacked, the files are stolen, and her former in-law is murdered.

Determined to uncover the harrowing facts, September and her dog Shadow battle to stay one step ahead of the merciless killer. But when they stumble upon shady business at a cattery, she must expose the mastermind before she too ends up in the ground.

Will Macy-Cat sniff out the key to unmask a decades-old horror? Can September and Shadow confront the past and live to tell the tale?

Here’s a YouTube video TRAILER for the book (with a cameo of my Magical-Dawg):

Early pawsitive reviews

“The author’s descriptions take the reader right into the scenes, and into the minds of the heroic animals. If you want well written, exciting suspense with fully developed characters (both human and animal), THIS is your read! I love it when I find a new author and their story turns out to be such a treasure.”

“This is an exciting, thrilling, nonstop action book. It fills in some history on September’s past as she tries to figure out why people are dying. She couldn’t do it without help from Shadow, her dog, and Macy her cat. Very well written and thoroughly enjoyable. Every bit as good as Jeffery Deaver or Lee Child…”

“I loved the interactions between the animals, though I have to admit Shadow is my favorite, Macy is starting to wear a hole in my heart also…”

“This book has everything-mystery, murder, no make that murders, kidnapping, cats and dogs oh my. It also was educational regarding the training of dogs and some cats to the emotional and medical needs of their humans. … Read it, you’ll love it …”

Thanks again, Ingrid, for the opportunity to talk about my fiction and HIT AND RUN. I hope readers will “adopt” the book and enjoy the read—maybe with a cat on your lap! When the next book gets ready, purr-haps one of your furry wonders will win a hero-cat (or dog) mention in the book, too.

So, have you ever “imagined” what your cat (or dog) thought about…everything? And how they’d thwart a bad guy? Do tell!

Hit and Run is available from Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

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Amy Shojai (https://www.SHOJAI.com) is the award-winning author of 35+ nonfiction pet care and behavior books, and the September & Shadow thrillers. She lives in North Texas with Bravo-Dawg, Karma-Kat, Shadow-Pup, and the enduring memory of Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter, or on BookBub to stay up to date with new books.

*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.

6 Comments on Writing a Purrfect Thriller with Claws

  1. Timmy Tomcat
    October 4, 2020 at 12:35 pm (3 weeks ago)

    It was really great to have some background and this one goes on our reading list

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai
      October 5, 2020 at 10:13 am (3 weeks ago)

      Great, I hope you enjoy the story.

      Reply
  2. Janine
    October 2, 2020 at 12:17 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I enjoyed learning about your books and the characters. I love books with animals in them.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai
      October 3, 2020 at 12:15 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Thanks Janine. FWIW, the first book in the series is free to subscribers of my newsletter at the Shojai.com site.

      Reply
  3. Amy Shojai
    October 2, 2020 at 9:54 am (4 weeks ago)

    Thanks again, Ingrid, for the opportunity!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 3, 2020 at 4:44 am (3 weeks ago)

      My pleasure, Amy!

      Reply

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