graphic of paw print


image of Nina Wright, dog, and cat

What was your inspiration for the Whiskey Mattimoe mystery series?

When I wrote Whiskey on the Rocks, the book that launched the Whiskey Mattimoe series, I was sharing my rural home with Lucille, a dog rescued in late pregnancy by my then-husband and me. Not remotely an Afghan hound, Lucille was a mutt with fast legs, a scary snarl and bafflingly high self-esteem. Like Abra, she had no apparent maternal instincts and a libido that wouldn't quit. She also had a propensity for chasing anything that promised misadventure. Given the slightest opening, Lucille would take off running full-tilt toward the nearest tavern, which lay on the other side of a vast soybean field. She'd ignore our calls for at least 24 hours before—I swear—she came home stinking of whiskey and cigarettes. I could never figure out what the bitch was up to. So my creativity kicked in. A good friend had an energetic Afghan hound; mentally I morphed the two dogs into one and added a healthy dash of imagination. The result was Abra.

Why is your amateur sleuth a realtor?

Like Whiskey, I've bought, renovated, and resold a number of properties. Unlike Whiskey, I'm not a realtor; I'm a writer. A writer who enjoys vacationing on the beaches of west Michigan. So I imagined what it would be like to be a realtor in a coastal resort community not far from Chicago. Specifically, I imagined a realtor who loves to snoop. I decided that Whiskey could have many adventures with her artistic, eccentric friends and the steady flow of tourists.

image of Nina on a sand dune

Like Whiskey Mattimoe,
author Nina Wright
loves the shore

Do you own an Afghan hound like Abra?

Reader and Afghan hound breeder Linda Jo Bugbee has made me honorary part owner of her beautiful Elivia, pictured below. Coincidentally (or not), Elivia looks exactly like Abra! But of course Lady E is much better behaved.

After meeting literally hundreds of Afghan hounds at various shows, I am forever convinced that they are the most regal and stunning of canines. Their humans admit, however, that Afs are prone to misadventure. That's what makes Abra who she is.

For more information about this extraordinary breed, check out Linda Jo Bugbee's Beloved Afghan Hounds.

image of Afghan hound Elivia

Elivia, who looks like Abra

What are your favorite dog breeds?

Of course, I adore sight hounds including not only Afghans but Salukis, Borzois, whippets and greys. Also high on my list of favorites are Hungarian Vizslas, Weimaraners, retrievers, setters, and sweet-hearted mutts. Generally, I like dogs with longer legs best.

I was never a fan of small dogs until I fell in love with a Maltese-Bishon-Poodle mix named Spike. Now I have a big space in my heart for itty-bitty dogs, too. My canine friends come in all shapes and sizes.

Nina's Canine Friends

Do you like cats?

I do indeed like cats, including and especially Devon Rexes. In fact, Flannery—my own dear Devon—was inspiration for the character of Yoda in both Whiskey and Tonic and Whiskey with a Twist, the third and fifth books in the series. While Flannery had a few of Yoda's annoying traits, let me hasten to add that her humor, intelligence, athleticism, and charm more than made up for her quirks.

It was not advisable, however, to turn your back on Flan if you had a heart condition. Like Yoda, Flannery liked to land on people's necks.

images of Flannery the cat

Although currently between dogs, I share my home and my heart with a couple felines, a Birman and a Devon rex named Clooney and Redford—AKA the Comedy Cats.

image of cats Clooney and Redford

In one or two sentences, can you sum up each of the Whiskey Mattimoe mysteries so far?

I can try. . . .

In Whiskey on the Rocks, newly widowed Whiskey Mattimoe is coping with her late husband's legacies—a real estate agency, a rogue dog, and a ranting stepdaughter—when tenants are murdered and priceless art disappears.

In Whiskey Straight Up, Whiskey learns about revenge and redemption. A town leader is murdered, Chester vanishes, and someone kidnaps Whiskey's step-grandbabies.

In Whiskey and Tonic, a young woman's murder may be part of a century-old family curse that also threatens Whiskey's business. Abra steals a precious tiara and finds a hot new love while Whiskey learns the power of a black camisole. . . .

In Whiskey and Water, a whole family goes missing after Whiskey evicts them. As she searches for the kids—or their killer—she falls in lust with the possible reincarnation of Teddie Roosevelt, and ponders what it means to have a "permanent" spouse.

In Whiskey with a Twist, Abra is invited to a regional dog show as an example of how not to groom and train an Afghan hound. Whiskey is judged a "bad owner," but there's a genuine bad guy at the show: two humans are murdered, and a canine champ is nabbed.

How much time is supposed to elapse between Whiskey Mattimoe mysteries?

One season. Because the series is set in the resort town of Magnet Springs, each mystery takes place during the next major tourist event on the calendar.

In the first book, Whiskey on the Rocks, it's autumn, which is leaf-peeping season. In Whiskey Straight Up, it's winter sports season. Whiskey and Tonic takes place in the spring, otherwise known as blossom-spotting season. Whiskey and Water is set in late June, during the start of water sports season . . . which is why humans and dogs end up in Lake Michigan. And for Whiskey with a Twist, it's autumn again, harvest time and dog show season in northern Indiana, where Abra disturbs the peace of Amish Country.

Are you working on a new Whiskey Mattimoe mystery?

I'm motivated to continue the series—thanks to the glam hounds and equally gorgeous humans I've met at dog shows and book signings.

For preview chapters, see the Whiskey Mattimoe page. And check my Whiskey Mattimoe blog for updates.

What else do you write?

My first young-adult novel Homefree launched Llewellyn's teen imprint, Flux. Homefree is about teen outsiders with paranormal talents, including clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and astral projection. They're recruited by a mysterious underground network to attend a special school.

The sequel Sensitive is now available. When Easter and friends arrive at Fairless Grove Academy in St. Augustine, Florida, they discover a new talent: talking with the dead. It's summertime, and the school has no teachers, but it does have a long and confusing list of rules. Meanwhile, Easter's crazy mother keeps drinking and dialing. Andrew may be too sensitive to handle his talents. And Cal may be too much temptation for Easter to handle, especially with no adults around.

Check out my Homefree  blog.

I always have at least two new projects in process, one for teens and another for adults. Sometimes I write for younger readers, too. Check my Nina Wright, Writer blog for updates.

Do you still write plays?

These days I'm concentrating on my fiction. But I still take notes for plays I hope to write. Making stories for the stage is a unique thrill—a lively and noisy collaborative process. I became the writer I am by first working as an actor, playwright and director. Those experiences taught me about plotting, pacing, character development, dialogue and sensory impact. I love live theatre!

What's your take on critique groups for writers?

I'm an enthusiastic advocate, provided that group members can agree on a constructive forum. We're too close to our own work to see it clearly, especially when drafting under tight deadlines that don't allow time for the writing to "cool." I'm blessed to be able to elicit feedback from skilled and insightful fellow writers and, in turn, to read their fresh new work.

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