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Q&A with Spencer Quinn (and Chet the Jet)

Spencer’s Quinn’s 7th mystery in the Chet & Bernie Mystery Series hits bookshelves on 8/5. Here, Spencer answers a few questions about his writing process, the series, dogs in entertainment and more. Plus, we get a little time with the star of the series, Chet the Jet!

So, Spencer:

What was the initial inspiration for the series?

My wife said, “You should do something about dogs.” That very day I wrote the first page of Dog On It. We took a vote and by a count of 2-0 we decided it was working.

Do you tend to watch dogs and other animals more closely now to mine them for good Chet behavior?

Curse and blessing, but I’ve always been a close watcher, period. I don’t dial it up in order to be productive – it’s just sort of there. That said, I’m a dog lover and of course you pay attention to what you care about.

What’s your favorite part of interacting with your fans?

The online community that’s arisen around the Chet and Bernie series on Facebook and at www.ChettheDog.com is wonderful. We’ve got dog lovers, mystery lovers, and story lovers in general. But my favorite part is the question period after I give a talk. Imaginations connect!

You write so naturally as Chet. Is it hard for you to get into the “dog” mentality?

If it was hard I wouldn’t do it. Slipping into the dog mentality seems to come easily to me. Maybe there’s been a DNA mixup somewhere, of the benign kind.

What other authors have inspired your writing?

I admire the work of many writers, including Graham Greene, Vladimir Nabokov, Ross Macdonald and P.G. Wodehouse. Beyond everything else, they were all great plotters. That takes hard effort for anybody, which is maybe why plot is often a neglected element.

What can humans learn from dogs?

That’s a huge subject, and a main theme of the Chet and Bernie series. Boiling it down, it’s about an attitude toward life: in the now, optimistic, physical, loving. And not overthinking things.

OK then, Chet:

Cats: take them or leave them?

I don’t have the slightest problem with cats, unless one escapes up a tree, or yawns in my face, or lounges on a couch in that annoying I’m-better-than-you-are way, or otherwise crosses my path.

Do you prefer car rides or walks?

That’s like asking what’s better, Slim Jims or steak tips? I prefer them both.

Are clues best dug up or sniffed out?

Sniffing is huge in my business – I’m a partner in the Little Detective Agency, in case that needs mentioning.

Sniffable clues are in the air just about all the time when it comes to humans, perps or not. The things I’ve learned from sniffing people! Don’t get me started. Digging is more of a specialized thing, important sometimes – take that Greyhound bus I once dug up, and what was with that name, anyway? – but on lots of cases I don’t dig at all, except for my own pleasure.


Spencer Quinn is the author of six previous Chet and Bernie mystery novels: Dog on It, Thereby Hangs a Tail, To Fetch a Thief, The Dog Who Knew Too Much, A Fistful of Collars, and The Sound and the Furry.  He lives on Cape Cod with his dogs Audrey and Pearl.  When not keeping them out of mischief, he is hard at work on the next Chet and Bernie mystery.  Keep up with him–and with Chet and Bernie–by visiting ChetTheDog.com or Facebook.com/ChetTheDog.

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