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The main character Jocelyn Hillier helps her mother run a laundry rental business in the beach town. A chance encounter leads to Jocelyn’s meeting Mr. Allardyce, the owner of several pedigreed Labrador retrievers and living in one of the fanciest shore-side mansions. He is gruff, a penny pincher, and a social outcast, but decides to hire Jocelyn as a dog walker and dog sitter. After Mr. Allardyce suddenly dies, he leaves all of his money to his three show dogs, appointing Jocelyn as their guardian. She has control of the money and is able to live in the mansion. An interesting premise that encircles the story, how an eccentric dog owner would appoint a trustee of the dogs who inherited the wealth. But life becomes troublesome when his estranged son, Liam, and the dog’s trainer, Lois, decide to sue her for the inheritance left to the dogs and her guardianship.
Besides having likeable characters and cuddly dogs this story delves into scandal and betrayal. The humorous banter allows for a very fun read.
Elise Cooper: The dogs are a background to the story?
Beth Kendrick: I like writing about the relationship between the owner and the dog along with the dog’s spirit and the environment surrounding everybody. The story cannot happen without the dogs, who are agents for change. People and pets have a very significant relationship.
EC: Dogs are a special breed?
BK: Dogs know who is kind and nurturing. It is that saying, ‘if my dog doesn’t like you neither do I.’ There is something about having another being to rely on us. There is a deeper level of nonverbal communication that is satisfying and profound. My vet once said to me, dogs want to be useful and serve. I think we have an obligation to give that back to our dogs.
EC: How did you come upon the premise?
BK: The name of the town is Black Dog Bay. In the first book, Cure For the Common Breakup, these is a mystical and magical legend in the town, an Irish Wolfhound. The dog is a symbol for hope and change. But in literature it is the symbol of depression and despair. I like playing off both: how hopelessness turns into hope, the dark into light, and the feeling of being totally isolated/lonely into finding a companion. This is the kernel of the whole series.
EC: Is this town made up?
BK: Yes. It is loosely based on some of the Delaware beaches such as Bethany Beach. I like the atmosphere and vibe that has the old-fashioned boardwalk and huge mansions along the beach. Too bad this prime real estate is empty most of the time and not occupied.
EC: How did you get the silhouette of the dog in the beginning of each chapter?
BK: I wanted a simple outline. I think we went through five to ten kinds. Some were too distracting and some were unclear. I could not find an Irish Wolfhound since most are so shaggy they look like sheep. For me, this silhouette is like a lucky penny bringing good luck.
EC: How did you come by the storyline of a dog’s inheritance?
BK: I was reading with my eleven-year-old son a National Geographic story. It was how all these dogs are bequeathed millions and millions of dollars. There is plenty of legal precedent even though the dogs actually cannot spend money. All they want is food, water, and a human. Pet trusts are routinely now part of estates. I understand how we owners want them well cared for.
EC: Are you a dog person?
BK:I write a series set in Black Dog Bay that includes a book titled In Dog We Trust, so I think we all see where my loyalties lie. I wrote a book, The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service, that helps humans find their canine soul mate, making sure the humans and dogs get their needs met. In this book, I write about dog breeders and dog shows even though I have adopted all my dogs from the pound. I think dog people have a spiritual and creative streak that are mostly kind and helpful.
EC: Do you go to dog shows?
BK: Yes. A scene in this book is inspired by true events. Jocelyn takes the dogs to a show and they are boisterous and badly behaved in the ring. They were not naughty but just could not control themselves. The judge remarked that they are acting like labs. All the other breeds appeared like they wanted to win. But the labs just wanted to say hi to each other and other people.
EC: How would you describe Jocelyn?
BK: Sweet, attractive, smart, and sensible. She has been restrained her whole life and is aware of the limits placed upon her by family, friends, and the community. She has a great sense of responsibility, especially to the dogs. She is very practical and has a sense of obligation to the dogs, her mom, and her friends. Once she has been given some financial freedom she is able to let go a bit.
EC: How would you describe Liam. I think readers will fluctuate between liking and disliking him?
BK: He is determined and obstinate. He has a clear understanding of how money changes someone’s life. For him it is not personal, but business. In a sadistic way, I had fun torturing him when the money mixes with the personal. I think one of the turning points is when he helps with the puppies’ birth where he had a metaphorical and spiritual transformation.
EC: How would you describe the three labs?
BK: Carmen is the rebellious one. Hester is sensitive and sweet. Curtis is charming and goofy. I wanted to show how each have their own nuances with a distinct personality.
EC: The humorous banter?
BK: This is my natural voice. I have tried to write very dark and serious perspectives but cannot do it. Even when I watch TV I still gravitate toward shows with some humor. I think life can be short and complicated, but we can deal with it through humor, even when things are really messed up.
EC: Why the book quote, “My dogs are better than most people.”
BK: I wanted to say something nice about the dog owner, Mr. Allardyre who had some tough times in his life. In some way, this is the theme of the book. Dogs are not selfish or prejudiced, and are willing to engage, serve and connect. Mr. A. left all the money and made Joselyn the dogs guardian because he wanted a guardian that could be trusted. Even though when he was alive he treated her badly and paid her practically nothing, she still hung in there for the dogs. He saw that in her and trusted that she would treat the dogs well.
EC: You even have a dog romance?
BK: Yes between Carmen and a mutt, Friday. I based him on my own dog because both dogs are very charismatic. I liked to compare this romance to the Disney movie, “The Lady and The Tramp.” I think this relationship was very spontaneous and organic.
EC: Do you like the group Duran Duran?
BK: Yes. I put their songs in the story as a shout out to my college roommate. I also needed a group that would be age appropriate. I would go to see them in concert if they appeared.
EC: Next book?
BK: I am still in the process of deciding on the next book. I do think there will be another “Bay Dog” novel. Right now, I am working on something else that I am not allowed to talk about, but if I had to bet there will be a dog popping up.
Check out yesterday’s FRIDAY FEATURE where we also featured this cute book by Beth Kendrick!