It’s early December and Andy Skyberg is itching to blow town for a weekend of holiday cheer with old friends—including a date with an attractive divorcée who thinks he’s hot.
But first, Aunt Bev needs a teensy bit of help. She’s managing the Girls’ Weekend Out event at the Beaver Tail Resort and could use some extra muscle. Andy figures he can spare a few hours before hitting the road.
Mother Nature, though, has other plans.
A giant blizzard makes an unexpected turn. Andy and his pooch King Harald find themselves snowbound—in a hotel full of hard-partying women, stranded travelers, a hockey team, a man-eating novelist, a belligerent blogger, and one violent, devious jewel thief.
Before you know it, man and mutt are up to their noses in another case. It’s a winter wonderland of fast-paced fun and merry madness, as the sleuthing duo dig out from King Harald’s Snow Job.
Aloha Richard, and welcome back again to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about Andy, the (human) protagonist?
Andy Skyberg is about forty—a good-natured, easygoing sort of fellow. Unfortunately, his wife runs off with her Pilates instructor…his business tanks…and he goes into a deep funk. Lucky for him, his sister has a job for him back in their hometown of New Bergen, working in her restaurant. As soon as he moves back, he goes looking for a dog. He finds a big ginger-colored mutt called King Harald at the animal shelter and it’s love at first sight. What Andy doesn’t bargain for is Harald’s unexpected talent for sniffing out crime and landing his “boss” in the doo-doo.
How much do you and Andy have in common?
Other than being a middle-aged white guy from the upper Midwest, not a lot. He has more energy and more courage and a better work ethic. I’m actually a little envious of Andy.
Have your characters evolved throughout the series?
When the series starts, Andy is a little beaten down and easily manipulated by his sister/boss and his aunt. My intention, however, is for him to become more independent of these ladies. Of course, a lot of the books’ humor depends on Andy getting tossed into trouble, especially by his Aunt Bev. It will be a tricky balance, but I’m game to try. And, of course, I’ll keep throwing him curves in his love life, but eventually he’ll find the girl of his dreams.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
I haven’t killed anybody, but I have depicted a few real people (under fictional names, of course) who I thought were jerks or idiots.
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
A: Andy lives and works in the tourist town of New Bergen, a couple of hours up the Interstate from “The Cities.” It’s located in Beaver Tail County. Both places are fictional, but not unreasonable facsimiles of real locales in the Upper Midwest. However, a real rural county is not likely to have all the perquisites and amenities that I give Beaver Tail. In a way, I hope to make it like Midsomer, with a whole potential universe of eccentric characters and criminal possibilities.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
A: If he were younger, Jeff Bridges would be the ideal Andy. Though maybe a little too handsome, Jared Padalecki (of Supernatural and Gilmore Girls fame) would make a fine Andy.
For Aunt Bev, I nominate Sally Field.
For Thor Hofdahl, I’d go with Gerald McRaney or Terry O’Quinn.
Finally, for Becky Reingold, Kristin Wiig or Amy Adams.
What’s the best and worst advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
A: The best advice was to write novels because you love doing it, not to make money. How true. The worst advice was to keep trying different genres to find the one that sells for you. Well, the problem with that is that genre readers often won’t read a freestanding book. They tend to not be interested unless there’s a series. So series (one canine cozy, one historical, one middle grade fantasy) are what I’m working on.
Richard Audry is the pen name of D. R. Martin. As Richard Audry, he is the author of the King Harald Canine Cozy mystery series and the Mary MacDougall historical mystery series. Under his own name he has written the Johnny Graphic middle-grade ghost adventure series, the Marta Hjelm mystery, Smoking Ruin, and two books of literary commentary: Travis McGee & Me; and Four Science Fiction Masters.