Chasing Justice by author Kathleen Donnelly
Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!
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Chasing Justice by Kathleen Donnelly
A former marine learns to love again in this suspenseful, action-packed K-9 search and rescue from debut author Kathleen Donnelly.
After losing her military K-9, former marine Maya Thompson swears she’ll never work with dogs again. But when she returns home to Colorado and accepts a job with US Forest Service law enforcement, fate brings K-9 Juniper into her life just as another tragedy unfolds.
Juniper, a beautiful two-year-old Malinois, isn’t the only new addition to Maya’s life. Josh Colten, the local deputy sheriff, insists on helping with her new case. Handsome and mysterious, he’s all anyone in town can talk about, but Maya can’t let herself like him, let alone trust him.
When Maya’s grandfather goes missing amid a growing drug war, Maya must put her faith in Josh, and her own battered instincts, to find him. But there’s a web of secrets tying her grandfather to the tragedy that brought Juniper into her life—secrets someone would kill to keep hidden.
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Chasing Justice Author Interview — Kathleen Donnelly
The protagonist for Chasing Justice, Maya Thompson, is a former marine. What drew you to an ex-military character who then joins the U.S. Forest Service as a law enforcement agent?
I’ve always been fascinated by the military and in awe of the bravery and service from the men and women who serve our country.
When Maya came to me as a character, I wanted her to have prior K-9 handling experience. There were several options for that, but the main two were to have her be a handler in the military or with another law enforcement agency.
As I started to know Maya better, I decided that I wanted her to be a Marine, because she’s that tough, and also, Forest Service law enforcement officers often have a military background. I realized that if Maya had deployed in Afghanistan with a K-9, she could be dealing with PTSD from a tragic incident involving her dog. This would make her swear that she would never work a dog again and that provided a great catalyst to start Chasing Justice. I knew that she would be forced to face that fear and take on working and bonding with another K-9.
Chasing Justice hints at romance, what appeals to you about mixing romance with suspense?
When I started Chasing Justice, I wasn’t planning on having a romance. But then along came Deputy Josh Colten, and the next thing I knew, he was a bigger part of the story than originally planned.
I found I enjoyed developing the relationship between Josh and Maya and by the time I queried the novel, Josh had become a big piece of the storyline. I didn’t know at first if he could be trusted so of course Maya didn’t trust him either. You’ll have to read the book to see how it turns out!
Chasing Justice combines fiction with your real-world experiences. Tell us about Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines:
I’m so lucky and proud to be a handler and co-owner for a private narcotics dog company—Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines.
I’ve been a handler with the company since 2005 and I’ve worked many different dogs. Our company is very different from what Maya does in Chasing Justice. I’m not a law enforcement officer and my dogs are friendly, loving labs that would lick someone to death, never bite. We go into schools to help deter the presence of drugs, alcohol and gunpowder. I love the job because working with the dogs is amazing and I love helping to create a safe environment for kids.
I used some of the challenges that come with handling a dog to create several of the story lines in Chasing Justice. Whether you’re working a police K-9 or a private K-9, there are many universal challenges and training that go into the dogs. I really enjoyed working in descriptions such as what it feels like to work a dog and watch their body language. There’s nothing more amazing to me than seeing a dog catch a scent and locate the odor they’re trained to find.
How did you become involved with training dogs?
A good friend of mine started Sherlock Hounds with another friend. They were both retired teachers and created the program with the goal of keeping schools safe.
A few years after they started, they were able to secure a grant so that schools could afford to have the dogs come on a regular basis. Once they obtained this grant, they approached me about working for them.
One of the most important things for a handler to be able to do is to read a dog’s body language. There’s a difference when a dog is simply smelling food or the scent of another animal versus being in odor for something they’re trained to find.
I had grown up with dogs and trained horses so they thought I would be able to read a dog’s body language well. I decided to give it a try thinking I would do it for a short time, but working dogs is addictive. There’s nothing better than having that partnership and complete trust with an animal to help keep people safe.
You also work as a dressage trainer. That’s a very specific equestrian style, can you describe dressage for our readers?
I did work as a dressage trainer and while I no longer train full time, I still have some clients that I give lessons to.
Dressage is a French word that loosely translates to mean “training.” Dressage came from training horses based on their natural movements. Hundreds of years ago, it was to have a well-trained horse to go into battle. Today it is an Olympic sport that tests the partnership between horse and rider. Our U.S. team even won a silver medal in the last Olympics!
The most famous non-competition dressage school is the Spanish Riding School in Vienna with the Lipizzaner stallions. They still do the airs above the ground movements which is amazing to watch. If you haven’t seen the Lipizzaners perform, take the time to watch a YouTube video. They are spectacular horses.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my next book with Maya, K-9 Juniper and Josh.
I’ve always envisioned this as a series and I have lots of ideas for many more adventures with my characters. I also have another book and characters that I may play with in-between writing Maya and Juniper’s stories. The character just keeps talking to me and I’m intrigued to know more about her. I think that book would be more of a psychological thriller, but who knows. It’s still in the early stages.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Just keep going!
Sit down and write as much as you can. If you really enjoy writing, don’t worry about only getting published. Write what you love and have fun with it. Be open to learning and receiving feedback on your writing. That can be painful sometimes, but in the end, it only makes you better.
Enjoy your journey with writing and if you end up getting published, that’s icing on the cake, but it’s more important that you keep the joy in it.
Great advice! And one of my favorite Author Pet Corners . . .
Author Pet Corner!
Sparky: Sparky retired from Sherlock Hounds in 2016. Even though he’s retired, Sparky still considers himself in charge of keeping the other dogs in line and overseeing operations by traveling with the crew to schools—he always gets to ride shotgun. During his working years, Sparky was considered the Sherlock Hounds “undercover agent.” When he’s not traveling with the labs, Sparky can often be found napping in the sun or playing with his toys.
Boomer: I found Boomer at the Lab Rescue Oklahoma and we teamed up in 2019. Boomer has proven he loves his job and is excellent at sniffing out contraband. His talents also include leaning on people for lots of love and attempting to eat things he shouldn’t. When he’s not working, Boomer loves playing with his best friend, Gracie, and running around the yard as fast as he can.
Gracie: Gracie is my oldest working dog. I partnered with her in 2013. A high energy girl, Gracie loves her job and is enthusiastic about going to work. She not only loves keeping schools safe, but Gracie also loves all the attention that comes with the job. When she’s not working, Gracie can be found rolling in the grass and playing with her best friend, Boomer.
Willow: Willow, partnered with me in 2016. Willow is all business when she’s working, but loves attention and belly rubs when she’s off-duty. Willow has been known to make appearances at writers conferences to demonstrate her skills and help writers learn more about the K-9 world. She considers herself my co-author and consultant for all things K-9.
Mina: Mina is a 27-year-old Oldenburg mare. I fell in love with her when I met her in 2001. Mina came into training with me before I bought her and I instantly knew we were meant to be together. She’d had a rough start and my biggest challenge was gaining her trust. After having three foals and being an amazing mother, Mina is retired and living the good life where she debates if Sadie, the bossy pony, is annoying or her best friend.
Nadia: Nadia is a 14-year-old Oldenburg mare and Mina’s last foal. I can say I’ve known her for a long time. She unfortunately injured herself and is not rideable, but she makes a great pasture ornament. Nadia is a bit of a diva, (Okay, a big diva!) but loves Sadie and hanging out with Mina. She believes she should be out on pasture only when the grass is green and blanketed at the first signs of any rain or snow. She also loves being groomed, fed carrots, and told she is the prettiest girl around.
Sadie: Sadie is a 28-year-old pony that we believe to be a Shetland/Miniature Horse cross. Sadie doesn’t care what her breed is, she knows one thing—she is the boss. I brought Sadie home as a companion for Mina in 2005. They do love each other, but Sadie likes to instigate disputes, especially at feeding time. Sadie’s favorite pastimes include eating and napping in the sun. Despite bossing around the big horses, she’s quite loving with humans and enjoys a good grooming session.
Award-winning author Kathleen Donnelly is a K-9 handler for Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines—a private narcotics dog company. She enjoys using her K-9 experience to craft realism into her fictional stories.
Along with working dogs, Kathleen loves horses. She owns two horses and a bossy, yet adorable pony. Kathleen’s love of the mountains inspired her setting for Chasing Justice. She enjoys escaping to the high country to hike and photograph the scenery and wildlife.
Kathleen has a B.A. in Journalism from Colorado State University and formerly wrote for The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor where she won a Colorado Press Award. Kathleen lives in Colorado with her husband and all their four-legged friends.
To learn more about Kathleen, click on her name, photo, or any of the following links: Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Goodreads
Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell
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