Today I’m thrilled to be interviewing author A.G. Henley. She is one of my dearest writing friends, confidants, and is a frequent attendee at those writing retreats I love sneaking away for.
She is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and fantasy novels and stories, including the Love & Pets romantic comedy series. The first book in her young adult Brilliant Darkness series, The Scourge, was a Library Journal Self-e Selection and a Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. She’s also a clinical psychologist, but she promises not to analyze you . . . much.
Q: What inspired you to write your Love and Pets series?
A: Funny you should ask. I wanted to write a romantic comedy series that revolved around pet owners. I started writing the first book about a woman who owned a nightmarish prairie-dog. It was based on a real-life friend whose pet prairie dog tore up her apartment, attacked her mom, and in one horror movie-esque episode that I narrowly escaped, chased me down the hall to the guest room. It was a funny premise, but a certain friend (cough *Rebecca* cough) asked me two very good questions. Why a prairie dog? Why not just a dog? Her point was that it would be a lot easier to attract readers to books about dogs and cats and other common pets than a book about exotic pets like snakes or prairie dogs. Truer words were never spoken. I ended up changing the animal in the first book to a pug dog, and the first book in the series became The Problem with Pugs. The following books follow the unlucky-in-love human clients of a mobile animal clinic called Love and Pets, and the animal patients so far have covered tabby cats, dachshunds, Labrador retrievers, Persian cats, and soon, border collies. There are currently five books plus a prequel, and The Conundrum of Collies will be published this fall. Animal lovers and sweet romance lovers seem to like them, and they’ve been a lot of fun to write.
Q: Did you have to do any particular research for these books?
A: I do research the breed I’m writing about for each book. For example, what are their personalities like? Do they have particular health problems? What are their quirks? (They all have quirks.) While writing The Problem with Pugs, I borrowed Rebecca’s sweet, late pug Bella for some in vivo research, which felt a whole lot more like fun than work. I also investigate aspects of the characters I’m writing. For example, the main male character in Pugs is a mobile veterinarian, so I read about what the job entails, what a mobile vet practice is like, what the vehicles look like, that kind of thing. In my upcoming book about a border collie, I’m researching disc dog clubs to find out what training and competition looks like for these athletic animals.
Q: What does your writing routine look like?
A: Ha ha ha ha! Oh wait, that wasn’t a joke? I wish I had a writing routine. Every book seems to be different. One book I’ll be very disciplined and wake up and write for several hours before doing anything else and it gets done in an orderly manner. Other books, I’ll procrastinate, and then race to cram it in between other responsibilities before my deadline. Still, other books are more haphazard, like I’ll be very disciplined for weeks, and then it falls apart and I watch the days tick by in a sort of writing paralysis. That’s where I am with The Conundrum of Collies, but somehow it all works out and they get written. Fingers crossed. I did buy a standing desk recently, and that’s been really nice. My butt is thanking me, even if my feet and ankles have now taken to constantly complaining.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication?
A: I started writing creatively in 2008. By early 2010, I was querying agents with my first book. It is as yet unpublished, so you can see how that went. I wrote and queried a second book by 2011, but no bites from agents, so I indie published it in early 2012. It’s called The Scourge, a young adult dystopian fantasy romance, and it did surprisingly well in those early days of e-readers. I did manage to get an agent that same year, and she attempted to submit The Scourge to publishers. We came close with a couple houses, but no luck. I decided to keep indie publishing and keep trying to write something for traditional publishing, but eventually I focused on indie. I now have the complete three-book Brilliant Darkness series to follow The Scourge, the ongoing Love & Pets sweet romantic comedy series, and several published short stories and novellas.
Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
A: I am a psychologist with a part-time telehealth practice, a servant to a small, fuzzy canine mutt master named Guapo, and CEO of a busy household. At least, we were busy in the Before-Times. Now, I mainly try to keep juggling writing books, marketing books, spending time with my family, eating, sleeping, drinking coffee and wine, and trying my best to also shower and wear pants. Actually, I never wear pants because I currently live in the southeast and it’s summer. Enough said.
From the publisher:
A bitter feud. A burning love. And cats.
Kathleen Caplin hopes the annual CatFest convention in Denver will be her big break. Her Persian cat, Juliet “Cat”ulet, is an invited guest thanks to the million-plus rabid social media followers who adore Juliet’s satin medieval dresses, the balcony settings Kathleen creates, and her Shakespearean-themed posts. If those same fans vote for Juliet as the Best Newcomer at CatFest, then Purina wants to talk sponsorship, and Kathleen can finally focus on building a business around Juliet’s success.
But there’s stiff competition: another Persian cat called Romeo “Meow”tague. Romeo’s anonymous owner copy-catted Kathleen’s Shakespearean theme to build a massive following for himself. Although the loathsome man is clearly gunning for the sponsorship, Kathleen aims to win.
For Joe Davis, CatFest is a means to an end. He wants out of office cube-land, and he can do it if his cat, Romeo, wins Best Newcomer and the Purina sponsorship. But then he meets her at the convention—Kathleen—the woman who teaches the torches to burn bright. After falling in love over the course of one magical night out on the town, Joe knows he’s finally found the woman of his dreams . . . Until he realizes the woman of his dreams is also the despicable owner of Juliet of the house of Catulet.
Can Joe convince Kathleen that his only love sprung from his only hate? Or will there instead be a plague o’ both their houses?
Read now and find out in this star-crossed lovers romance in the “quirky, hilarious, endearing” Love & Pets sweet romantic comedy series by USA Today bestselling author A.G. Henley!
The Love & Pets Series:
1. The Problem with Pugs
2. The Trouble with Tabbies
3. The Downside of Dachshunds
4. The Lessons of Labradors
5. The Predicament of Persians
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