Guest Post with Excerpt ~ The Dead Of Night by Jean Rabe

Wrinkles…and my other four-legged muses

MUSE: a person or force providing inspiration for a creative artist

Synonyms: inspiration, creative influence, stimulus, DOG

I started out as a fantasy and science fiction writer. Well, actually I started out as a newspaper reporter covering courts, cops, and crime. But when I dove into the fiction well it was dragons and ogres and goblins and the like. That’s when I discovered that the dogs wrapped around my feet were my muses.

When I needed to write scenes from creatures’ perspectives, I didn’t want them to seem like humans in scaly suits. Those characters shouldn’t think like humans…or be motivated by all the same things.

So I looked at the world through my dogs’ eyes for inspiration. Dogs are pretty basic. Though each one has a very distinct personality; they all like to eat, play, sleep, and be in my company. They adore cheese, apples, strawberries, an assortment of things that are not meant to be edible; chasing tennis balls; ripping apart fluffy toys to find the squeaker; naps by the fireplace in the winter; walks down the block and peeing on every mailbox post along the way; chasing lightning bugs and butterflies; slaying rabbits that foolishly slip under the backyard fence; barking at the wind; and taking long dips in the kiddie pool in the summer. They live in the moment. They are amazing.

I wrote The Stonetellers Dragonlance trilogy for Wizards of the Coast, where the main goblins and hobgoblins were drawn from dogs who shared their years with me. My editor at the time told me he thought it was my best work. I never mentioned where the characters came from.

Now that I’ve switched genres, diving into the mystery well, I use my dogs another way…I slip them wholly into the stories.

My favorite dog…I think people with multiple dogs lie if they claim they love their dogs equally…is Wrinkles, an elderly pug gifted to me by a woman who was in the Air Force and who could no longer keep him. As I write this, Wrinkles is draped across my toes and softly snoring. He’s my constant shadow, and I sneak him cheese when the other dogs aren’t looking. My other canine companions include: Missy, a Boston terrier rescue; Fable, a Labrador my husband brought home from a farm; and Jake, a BIG Labrador, a foster who has made himself at home.

In my first mystery novel, The Dead of Winter, dogs and cats play an integral role in the plot. They’re carefully scattered in the background, but are key in my villain’s motivation. No fictional dogs or cats were harmed in the book. Wrinkles appears curled between the feet of a murder victim, and because he has some age to him, one of my characters takes him home rather than to the shelter. He also makes an appearance in The Dead of Night, my second mystery novel featuring Sheriff Piper Blackwell. Another dog and cat are added to the mix in that book. It comes out September 15. Maybe it’s a theme for the Piper books…adding pets to my characters’ lives. I think I’ll put a parrot in the third book. I have a miniature macaw named Trouble in my office.

One of my favorite mystery writers, Robert B. Parker of Spencer and Jesse Stone fame, put dogs in his books. His picture on the dust jacket showed him with a German Shorthair Pointer. Another favorite author, Robert Crais, introduced a canine character Maggie in his excellent novel Suspect, and continued her adventures in The Promise. My friend Margaret Weis, who writes fantasy, has four fine canine companions who join her in flyball. Donald J. Bingle, a writer pal who specializes in thrillers, has two rescue Shar-Peis. I know writers with cats…but this column is about dogs. Fantasy author R.A. Salvatore has three Japanese Chins. The awesome tale-spinner Brendan DuBois posts pictures of his companion Spencer the Wonder Dog. Alaskan SF author Craig Martelle talks about his walking buddy Phyllis the Arctic Dog. Jack Dann, most excellent author from Down Under, has a beagle. I’ll stop my list now.

Dogs and writers seem to go together, I think. They get us up from the keyboard for walks and to throw tennis balls. They lure us outside at night in the summer to marvel at the fireflies and to bark at the wind. They keep our feet warm, our hearts happy, our wallets thinner, our homes messier, and our writing lives better. And they are so kind as to let us look at the world through their eyes.

File Size: 3391 KB
Series: Piper Blackwell Mystery, Book 2
Publisher: Imajin Books
Publication Date: September 15, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Buy: Kindle


In Spencer County’s history, mysteries are numerous—and lethal…

As Sheriff Piper Blackwell rushes to a clandestine meeting with an aging, paranoid veteran who believes spies are trailing his every move, she is caught in a fierce thunderstorm. Pounding rain drums against the bluff, washing away the earth and revealing a grisly secret someone tried to bury a long time ago.

Putting a name to the skeleton on the bluff, and searching for the thief who robbed the old veteran of his life’s earnings, sends Piper delving into the sleepy towns that dot her rural county. Now she’s digging into pasts perhaps best left alone.

Accompanied by Chief Deputy Oren Rosenberg, Piper seeks to expose a truth someone wants to remain forever hidden. The investigation may have started with a thunderstorm, but Piper aims to finish it and find justice. Uncovering fragments of Spencer County’s history could prove more dangerous—and deadlier—than she ever expected.

When I am not writing, I toss tennis balls to my cadre of dogs. My house is filled with books and dogs, you can smell both when you walk in the front door. It’s a good smell.

I have 36 published novels and am currently writing in the mystery genre. My latest mystery, The Dead of Winter, was a finalist for the Claymore Award and is the first in the Piper Blackwell series.

I live in a tiny town in the middle of Illinois that has a Dollar General, a pizza place with exceedingly slow service, a veterinarian (good thing, eh?), and train tracks…lots of train tracks.

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Excerpt ~

You told my dispatcher it was urgent,” Piper pressed. “What did you—”

He interrupted with a tsk-tsking sound. “You don’t know where Malapascua is, do you?

Being Army and all. Airborne. You were with the Screaming Eagles, right? I remember that  from the news article, the 101st out of Fort Campbell.”

“I don’t know where Malapascua is,” Piper admitted. She was going to repeat her question,  but he cut her off with a wag of his long-fingered hand.

“Don’t you hurry me.”


“It’s a sunken island in the Philippines. I went there years and years ago, right after I bought  my farm. A tropical vacation with the girl I’d just married—a late start at that for both of us, eh? Way the hell too late for kids. Wanted to show her where the war had been…part of the war. A history teacher, she was interested in where I’d been stationed. She’s been dead three years  now.” He shook his head. “Anyway, we did some diving. I used to dive, you know. I was  certified for open ocean. The Monad Shoal is near Malapascua, and the sides of that island, they drop off to the real inky depths. Thresher sharks hunt there, and though we weren’t looking for  them, we saw a couple on our early dive. Beautiful creatures. Cleaning wrasse, those are small fish that live on the dead skin from the shark…its gills, inside its mouth…the wrasse were hanging on them threshers. A symbiotic relationship, and—”

Thunder boomed, and Piper felt the tremor ripple through the ground beneath her three-day-old Nikes. Ozone mingled with the river scent and Mark the Shark’s old man smells.

“Gonna rain,” Mark said.

“Yeah, looks like it,” she said. “Listen, I—”

“Do you got a dog?”

“My father does, an old pug.”

“Everyone should have a dog.”

She let out a long breath. “You said this was urgent.”










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  1. Good post! Yes, everyone should have a dog. Even the infamous Lizzie Borden had dogs… 


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