author of Monty and Me
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
As a child I lived in a quintessential English village in a tumbledown house with crooked floors and secret staircases. Behind the house were rolling hills and horse paddocks; at the front, a village green where cricket was played every Sunday. We had three crazy dachshunds, one of whom kept pushing his nose into wasps’ nests and never seemed to learn from his mistake. We grew our own fruit and vegetables. These fond memories have inspired the setting for Monty And Me, especially Duckdown Cottage, the house Rose Sidebottom inherits.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve, happy. At eighteen, rich. At thirty, fulfilled. As an author I am happy and fulfilled, so two out of three isn’t bad!
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
At eighteen it never occurred to me how many beautiful animals and birds would become extinct in my lifetime, many killed for hunting trophies or died through destruction of habitat. The Javan Tiger, the Western Black Rhinoceros, the Yangtze River Dolphin, the Formosan Clouded Leopard are but a few. The world is a less wonderful place for their loss and I hope we, and governments, can take more urgent steps to preserve our endangered species.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
I believe reading as a child, and being read to, fuelled my imagination and helped me understand how powerful words can be. At a very early age I started writing stories and little plays, using string puppets to act them out on a cardboard box stage. It’s hard to single out three authors but I’d say Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton and Lewis Carroll. Their imaginations blew me away.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Nothing beats a good novel: entering an imaginary world, meeting characters we get to know intimately, going on adventures, solving crimes, falling in love – whatever genre excites you. In a novel, you are inside the head of the central characters, know what they are thinking and feeling, their hopes and fears. This is equally true of the dog, Monty, in Monty And Me: the reader sees events from both Rose’s point of view and the dog’s. This insight into Monty’s thoughts is what makes the story both emotionally engaging and funny.
Meet Monty. He’s a dog. As every good dog knows, you cannot and must not let on to the humans that you know things. Just wag your tail, chase your ball, and play dumb.
When his master, Professor Salt, is murdered, Monty is adopted by rookie detective Rose Sidebottom. Monty wants to find his master’s killer and Rose is struggling to prove herself as a detective. So when Rose starts barking up the wrong tree, it is up to Monty to lead her in the right direction. Humans! They think they know everything.
Monty And Me is a humorous mystery, the first in a series in which Monty and Rose solve crimes that have the Murder Squad stumped. Quirky, charming and whimsical, a laugh-out-loud mystery with four legs and a tail.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
A big smile.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
In the sub-genre of humorous mysteries, I enjoy Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie Mysteries and Ben Aaronivitch’s Peter Grant Mysteries. Quinn’s stories make me smile and Aaronovitch’s have such a clever premise: a London police officer becomes a trainee wizard and solves spiritual/other worldly crime. Both are very clever authors.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I have already planned four Monty and Sidebottom mysteries, so I very much hope readers love Monty And Me.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Tell the story you want to tell. Don’t be put off by people who say your ideas are too whacky or are not flavour of the month. My experience is that publishers and readers enjoy a well written and entertaining novel that is a bit different. That surprises. So don’t be afraid to have a go.
Louisa, thank you for playing.
by Louisa Bennet
Introducing loveable dog detective Monty – the must-have book this Summer!
You might think that dogs can’t understand us…but you’d be wrong. Apart from an obsession with cheese, Monty is a perfectly rational animal.
So when his beloved master is stabbed to death, Monty decides to use his formidable nose to track the killer down. Luckily he manages to find a home with Rose Sidebottom, the young policewoman who’s investigating the case.
But with her colleagues turning against her, and the wrong man collared, she’s going to need a little help…
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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