Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lost and Found - a nail-biting thriller by Amy Shojai

Ever the animal enthusiast, I am delighted to feature Amy Shojai, author of the thriller LOST AND FOUND, on my blog today.

What is your book about?

LOST AND FOUND is the first installment of Shojai's dark, female-driven domestic thriller series featuring pet-centric plots:

A young woman races a Texas blizzard to save her autistic nephew from a deadly secret others will kill to protect...  

AN AUNT searches for her lost nephew--and dooms her sister.
A MOM gambles a miracle will cure--and not kill--her child.
A DOG finds his true purpose--when he disobeys.

Animal behaviorist September Day has lost everything--husband murdered, career in ruins, confidence shot--and returns home with her trained Maine Coon cat Macy to Texas to recover. She's forced out of hibernation when her nephew Steven and his autism service dog Shadow disappear in a freak blizzard. 

When her sister trusts a maverick researcher's promise to help Steven, September has 24 hours to rescue them from a devastating medical experiment impacting millions of children, a deadly secret others will kill to protect. As September races the clock, the body count swells. Shadow does his good-dog duty but can't protect his boy. 

Finally September and Shadow forge a stormy partnership to rescue the missing and stop the nightmare cure. But can they also find the lost parts of themselves?

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote the book that I’d always wanted to read, and hadn’t been able to find. LOST AND FOUND focuses on more than being physically lost and even more shines a light on being emotionally separated from everything people care about—others they love, security, family. I wanted to build on the idea that an emotional connection with animals heals us and keeps us whole—so many people today share their lives with dogs (and cats) that I wanted LOST AND FOUND to celebrate that connection and also push the envelope and help people thing beyond the everyday benefits. Also, as an animal behavior specialist, I wanted the dog character to be portrayed with respect and in an accurate depiction of his species—not a “talking” dog, but create a viewpoint character true to a service dog. So not only the human protagonist, but also the service dog she’s trained, have their individual story goal and character arc.

Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book?

I absolutely adore the dog character, Shadow. He begins the book as someone of a clueless puppy, and grows and matures throughout the story. By the end, he has learned so much about himself, and his human partner, and they’ve learned to trust and love each other—a huge step for them both. My own dog (a youngster when I first began writing the book) inspired the Shadow character. I love September, my dog training protagonist, too, but Shadow is so much fun to write he’s become my favorite (and a favorite with readers, too).
My least favorite character in LOST AND FOUND is the little boy’s mother April. While I understand why she does what she does, April is a selfish character and gets everyone around her in trouble.

What draws you to this genre? Do you write in any other genre?

I write nonfiction dog and cat behaviour and care books—30 titles so far. That’s one reason I include pets in my fiction, since that’s my expertise and I also wanted to bring my pet care readership to my thrillers.

I love thrillers and suspense stories that feature interesting characters with unique challenges. I also am intrigued by medical mysteries, and with my background as a veterinary technician, it’s even more fun to see how I can combine all of my loves into one plot. While there are many “pet” mysteries, the type of stories I enjoy are darker ticking clock, roller-coaster rides. I suppose you could call what I write a hybrid genre, sort of a cross-breed of high octane suspense with next-door-neighbor characters you root for, including a couple of furry wonders who remind readers of the dog and cat who share the your heart (and maybe pillow!).

Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?

LOST AND FOUND was my debut novel and was so popular that readers asked, “what happens next?” There are now three books in the series: HIDE AND SEEK takes place a few weeks after the first, at Christmas time, and the main character’s pet cat Macy figures more prominently (along with the dog, Shadow). The third book SHOW AND TELL released this past January 2016 and continues the story, and this time instead of a blizzard, September must also overcome tornadoes and floods. More books are planned, of course.
The interesting thing about including a canine main character is that each story must continue shortly after the previous book ends, or else you risk “aging out” the dog too soon. Another fact readers should understand is that I absolutely HATE HATE HATE reading stories that gratuitously hurt or kill animal characters. I won’t read them, and I won’t write them. To me, that’s lazy writing, besides being something I simply can’t stomach.

Tell me about you and what drew you to writing? Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself?

I began writing when I worked as a veterinary technician and shared the funny, uplifting and heart-breaking personal experiences with my Mom. She encouraged me to write them down, and that launched my nonfiction writing career. I wrote for the “pet press” (cat and dog magazines) for many years, and a New York editor saw my byline and invited me to write my first nonfiction book for Bantam Doubleday Dell. I’d always wanted to write fiction, but the nonfiction led to partnering with an agent, many more pet care books helping “pet parents” with what I call info-tainment to empower them to make informed choices for their cats and dogs.
When the Internet created free (but not always good) content, and mainstream publishing stopped acquiring pet books, it was time to write the novel I’d been told New York would never buy. A small independent publisher Cool Gus Publishing took the chance on LOST AND FOUND, and meeting a host of successful and very generous established authors at Thrillerfest launched my fiction career. People like James Rollins, J.T. Ellison, D.P. Lyle, Alan Leverone, and Jon Land have offered wonderful cover quotes that helped enormously to attract new readers.

Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel?

Oh no, you won’t get me to say that—there are far too many. Any of the books by the wonderful authors, above, rate high on my list.

Have you written other books we should know about?

As I said, I’ve written three books in the September Day Thriller series, and more than 30 nonfiction pet care books. Here are the URLs to the series and the two newest nonfiction titles:

If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?

Find a story that inspires you, and that you can be passionate about, and that you must share. That passion shines through your work, and becomes contagious to readers when they recognize your excitement. It’s very easy to WANT to be a writer—but you need the passion to sustain you through the long, thankless hours on the journey to achieve your goal. It’s worth the struggle, believe me. But you have to want it enough to do the work.

Where can we find your book?

LOST AND FOUND is PERMAFREE on all Ebook platforms and discounted on Audible:

Where can we find out more about you?

THANK YOU for the opportunity!

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  1. I should show this book to my mom! She's all about the thrillers/mysteries!

  2. How interesting! I've never heard of another thriller with an animal behaviorist pov. I look forward to checking it out!

  3. Wow - this sounds like a serious plot. Really deep and serious stuff to read... but I bet its amazing!

  4. I wish that I were a big fan of scary books or movies... But I wanted to encourage you to keep writing... Love to read your posts...

  5. This sounds like a great read. I like how she incorporates humans relationships with their animals.

  6. I like my pets better than I do most people. I would probably enjoy this book.

  7. I love the advice regarding following your passion. Great advice for those trying to follow their dreams!

  8. Anything with a dog has my thumbs up! Seriously this sounds like it's right up my street.

  9. What layers this author has created. I am interested in the pet part, always thought there was more too them than what meets the eye.

  10. What an interesting concept! Thanks so much for sharing... will have to check this out...

  11. Very interesting! I finished one whole book this summer. Which is amazing with two kids. I'll have to see which one of these I can squeeze in before the end of summer.

  12. I think it is great that this book features an autistic character. It's a great way to integrate people with special needs into the plot of a popular book.

  13. Thanks for the book reviews! Although I cannot say thrillers are definitely my thing, but years ago I did like it. I guess my age is catching up on me. =/

    | yvonnesowell.com |

  14. What an interesting premise for a book! I think writing the book you have always wanted to read is perfect - that is how I approach blogging too :-)

  15. I really think the concept of having a pet as one of the main characters in the story line is definitely interesting. I will have to look into reading the whole series.

  16. Very fascinating! This author created all of these dimensions which makes me want to pick it up!

  17. This sounds like a great thriller. I need to put it on my (very long) list of books to read.

  18. This sounds like a really fascinating read! I love finding all of my new books through your site!

  19. I love that the author won't share her favorite novel. LOL. This sounds like a good thriller for the end of summer.

  20. Oooh, I love that she's playing with the subtleties of being both emotionally and physically lost, and where that leaves a person. It sounds like a deep an interesting read.

  21. I love a good thriller so I need to check this out. I will add it to my must read list which I plan to get through by the end of summer.

  22. Thank you so much for hosting me and LOST AND FOUND on your blog! I just wanted to add...the Ebook versions of this book are free *s* so I hope some of the comments folks will take a chance and "adopt" this first book in the series. Incidentally, I always listen to readers so...the 3rd book in the series came as direct result of feedback.

    1. It was a pleasure to have you. And a free book, who could say no?

  23. This sounds like a great thriller book! I might have to add this to my beach book list for an upcoming trip! Thanks!

  24. This sounds like quite the nail-biter and I love that it is pet-centric, how fun! Very cool how the author branched out from their typical genre to write this novel, well done!


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