When Seattle yoga teacher Kate Davidson agrees to teach doga (yoga for dogs) at a fundraiser for a local animal rescue, she believes the only damage will be to her reputation. But a few downward-facing dogs are the least of Kate’s problems when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning.
The police arrest a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother and charge her with murder. To prove her innocence, Kate, boyfriend Michael, and German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them. All while discovering that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like hOMe.
Q: Karma’s a Killer is the third installment in the Downward Dog series. Can you tell us what the series, and the newest book, is about?
A: The Downward Dog Mysteries are lighthearted, happily-ever-after, human-animal love stories. Oh, did I mention that there are a few dead bodies tossed around for good measure?
Karma’s a Killer opens at a fundraiser for DogMa, a fictional Seattle animal rescue. While teaching a Doga (yoga for dogs) class, yoga teacher/sleuth Kate Davidson meets an animal rights activist named Dharma, who claims to be the mother that abandoned Kate thirty years earlier. The next day, Dharma is arrested for murdering a fellow animal rights activist. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them.
And if solving a murder weren’t complicated enough, Kate will also have to decide whether or not to reconcile with Dharma. Not to mention having to contend with an almost-bankrupt animal rescue, a cantankerous crow, an unwanted pigeon houseguest, and a rabbit in a doga class. What could possibly go wrong?
Q: Do you use incidents from your yoga teaching for your books? Perhaps with names and details changed?
A: Not many. Yoga class is like confession: there’s an implied level of confidentiality. But even experienced yoga teachers sometimes teach the class from hell. The class in which everything goes wrong. You say right when you mean left; you say big toe when you mean bicep. You step on students’ hands and cell phones go off during Savasana. Then you look down to realize—or in my case, a student tells you—that your pants are not only unzipped, they are also on inside out.
A few of those classes have made it into my stories, usually when Kate is thinking about murder when she should be focused on teaching. If Kate truly embarrasses herself while teaching in my stories, I likely did something similar in real life. My teaching foibles make for great comic relief.
Q: Is there really such a thing as “doga?”
A: There is indeed, though I don’t really think of it as yoga for dogs. I would call it yoga for humans with their dogs. Meaning humans practice yoga in the presence of their dogs. They occasionally use the dogs as props and do a few human-assisted dog stretches for good measure. For awhile, there was even a Doga studio in Seattle, though I can’t find it anymore. My German shepherd, Tasha, doesn’t get along well with other dogs, so we can’t take Doga classes. I did most of my research for the Doga scene in Karma’s a Killer online. If you want to check Doga out, Amazon has some interesting-looking books on Doga.
Q: How did you get involved in yoga? Would you recommend it someone who’s only dabbled in ten-minute quick yoga workouts? Convince me that I should try it.
A: I came to yoga for relief from a chronic back injury. Due to a car accident, I had been in pain every day and unable to turn my head for seven years. I left my first yoga class firmly believing that the definition of the word “yoga” was “much pain.” But even though my body felt worse after class, my mind felt calmer. So much calmer that I kept going.
Eventually I found Viniyoga, the style of yoga that I teach. For the first time ever, both my mind and my body felt better at the end of class. After practicing for about a year, I realized that I wasn’t in pain most days, and that I could turn my head again. My body felt significantly healthier, and I was calmer and happier.
I quit my high-tech job at Microsoft and opened my yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga. And yes, I would recommend the right yoga practice for everyone. Make sure you find a qualified teacher in a style that fits the needs of your body. There are a gazillion yoga styles out there, and they are about as similar as gravel and marshmallows. If you don’t like the first class you try, try another.
Q: This is your third book in the series. Where do you allow your characters to evolve, and what will you keep constant?
A: Like most of us, my characters will make mistakes and learn from them in each book. Kate, especially, has a lot of growth left inside her. Tiffany may even surprise us. It will be interesting to see Rene evolve as she becomes a mother.
But my characters won’t change who they are at their core, and I don’t foresee changing any committed relationships. Kate needs some stability in the midst of all that chaos! Bella will continue to mature, but I won’t let her grow old and infirm. That would simply be too hard.
Q: For the other writers reading this: Give us one great tip!
A: Don’t give up! Writing is a TOUGH business. No one gets published without facing rejection or receiving negative reviews. When I was trying to land an agent, I allowed myself 24 hours to feel bad about every rejection, then I forced myself to do something proactive. Send out another letter, connect with another author, write another page. I try to do the same thing when I get the (thankfully rare) negative review.
You can’t please everyone, and yet when you write, you so desperately want to. (At least I do.) Just keep writing what you love and know that your work isn’t defined by what any one person thinks of it.
Above all else, have fun! If you have fun on your writing journey, you will be successful—even if you never make it to The New York Times Bestseller list.
About The Author
Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and is a 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel.
Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.
Keep up with Tracy