How did you start your writing career?
I call myself the “accidental pet writer” because I had plans to be a New York Broadway star…and instead my career went to the dogs. *s* There were very few jobs available in a small town in Eastern Kentucky where my husband and I first lived after we got married, and so I interviewed with a veterinarian for an office manager position. (Stay with me here…I’ll get to the question and answer soon!). My interview took place during a Chihuahua’s C-section, with the vet asking me questions while handing newborn puppies for me to resuscitate. I think I got the job because I didn’t pass out!
There were so many amazing experiences as a result of working with veterinarians and I used to share them with my mother. She finally said, “Amy, you’ve got to write those stories down!”
And so I did, and my nonfiction pet-writing career was born.
A few thousand articles and 25 nonfiction pet books later, my dream of writing fiction became a reality by combining the cat and dog expertise with fast-paced emotion-driven stories in my THRILLERS WITH BITE! My debut thriller LOST AND FOUND introduced animal behaviorist September Day and her service dog Shadow, and my current release HIDE AND SEEK continues her story.
Tell us about your current release.
“HIDE AND SEEK proves Shojai’s masterful skill at blending ripped-from-the-headlines urgency with an emotional story of real characters in escalating dangers. Add in revelatory dose of animal psychology and behavior, and you have a thriller that had me turning pages deep into the night. Here is a novel written with authority and with a deft brilliance that any lover of animals or nerve-jangling thrillers will cherish.” –James Rollins, New York Times bestseller of “The Eye of God”
A rash of wildlife illnesses and pet disappearances plague North Texas, and when September’s own cat becomes sick and disappears, and a friend’s wife becomes ill, she sets out to prove the contagion affects people, too. But a stalker from September’s past finds her first. Trapped far from home, separated from her service dog Shadow, and with the clock ticking, can September escape and save her own life and others? And can a good-dog find his person in time?
What are your hero and heroine of the story like?
September struggles with PTSD—post traumatic stress disorder—from abuse at the hands of a mentor. She feels most comfortable around dogs and cats, and has a hard time trusting others or her own judgment. She must overcome feelings of inadequacy not only to survive and save others, but vanquish the abuser once and for all.
Shadow the German Shepherd is still very much a goofy puppy at 10 months old. He adores September, feels protective of her, and still feels confused that people don’t always make sense. Shadow wants to be a good-dog more than anything, and to do that, wants to please September. His anguish and helplessness at being separated from her force him to grow up and make decisions for himself—something vital for any good-dog and especially for a service dog.
Of course there also is a human hero as well. Detective Jeffrey Combs still struggles to overcome his damaged reputation but has recently been reinstated to Detective. His ex-wife complicates his life, as well as his two children, but he’s moved past the hurt enough to think of the future. He’d like to be more than friends with September but for now, settles for friendship.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
Trust yourself. Forget about “trends” or what the market says you should publish. Write the book that YOU want to READ, celebrate the topics that make you laugh out loud, weep with despair, gnash your teeth and make you shiver. Write something that brings out emotion in yourself, and the rest will follow. When you bring your passion to the page, others recognize that value more than anything else.
What group did you hang out with in high school?
I was a choir and theater geek, and hung out with all the artsy kids.
When's the last time you played that musical instrument?
Today! In college I was a music/theater double major and I play cello (like September does!) and piano, but my major instrument is voice. I also write music and just released the cast album of a new musical comedy STRAYS, THE MUSICAL with my co-author. Yes, the characters are cats and dogs. J Y’all can listen for free here: https://soundcloud.com/amy-shojai/sets/strays-the-musical-cast
Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.
It wasn’t a letter—it was in person. While signing books at a cat show (one of the BEST places to meet cat and dog people!) a couple stopped to look at my book THE FIRST AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS. I offered to paw-tograph it to their pets and they declined, and then with tears in their eyes, said they already have the book. And that it saved their dog’s life. WOW. They had ME in tears!
Where are your fans most likely to find you hanging out?
I spend a lot of time on Facebook and folks can either “like” my Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/amyshojai.cabc or they can “follow” on my personal page http://www.facebook.com/amy.shojai.
Hide and Seek
by Amy Shojai
on Tour June 1 - July 31, 2014
Published by: Cool Gus Publishing
Publication Date: January 2014
Number of Pages: 254
Synopsis:A mysterious contagion will shatter countless lives unless a service dog and his trainer find a missing cat . . . in 24 hours.
A STALKER hides in plain sight.
A VICTIM faces her worst fear.
AND A DOG seeks the missing—and finds hope.
Eight years ago, animal behaviorist September Day escaped a sadistic captor who left her ashamed, terrified, and struggling with PTSD. She trusts no one—except her cat Macy and service dog Shadow.
Shadow also struggles with trust. A German Shepherd autism service dog who rescued his child partner only to lose his-boy forever, Shadow’s crippling fear of abandonment shakes his faith in humans.
They are each others’ only chance to survive the stalker’s vicious payback, but have only 24 hours to uncover the truth about Macy’s mysterious illness or pay the deadly consequences. When September learns to trust again, and a good-dog takes a chance on love, together they find hope in the midst of despair–and discover what family really means.
“Recommended for anyone who likes a 'bite-your-nails, hold-your-breath' kind of thriller." -- Dr. Lorie Huston, Cat Writers Association President