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Virginia Lanier's Ten Little Bloodhounds
A Jo Beth Sidden Bloodhound Mystery

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Meet the Author
About Bloodhounds
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Meet the Author

Virginia Lanier lives with her husband on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp, in Echols County, Georgia. She is the award-winning author of The House on Bloodhound Lane, Death in Bloodhound Red, and A Brace of Bloodhounds. She is a member of the American Bloodhound Club and Sisters in Crime.

Ten Little Bloodhounds: Virginia Lanier's bloodhound mystery series follows the trail of success
by Jeffrey Marks
At an age when most people are considering retirement, 69-year-old Virginia Lanier began a new and profitable career as a mystery author. Her 1995 debut, Death in Bloodhound Red, won an Anthony Award as well as a devoted readership who have eagerly followed the exploits of trainer Jo Beth Sidden and her talented canine partners.
Jo Beth is a opinionated, liberated woman who trains bloodhounds and uses them to track criminals and perform search-and-rescue missions. In her fifth outing, Ten Little Bloodhounds (June, 1999), Jo Beth Sidden is asked by an eccentric billionaire to find a lost cat. By the time time Jo Beth and her faithful bloodhounds are finished, they've not only located the cat but a murderer as well.
Critics and readers have universally praised this series' vivid southern settings. Virginia Lanier recently talked to MysteryNet from her home on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp which has provided much inspiration for her books.
MysteryNet: You came late to writing, not starting until you were in your 60s. Could you tell us more about why you started and how?
Lanier: Well, as I always tell people, I didn't know that I could. I failed ninth-grade English, never went to college, and I couldn't spell any word longer than four letters without looking it up in the dictionary. I just didn't believe I could be a writer, but here I am, and I've never even gotten a rejection slip so far.
MysteryNet: Why did you start writing?
Lanier: A few years ago, I was reading a book and threw it across the room because it was so bad. I told my husband, Hoss, that I could write a better book than that. His reply was "Well, why don't you?" He fixed me up an office, and gave me time to write by going out to play golf every blessed day. Death in Bloodhound Red was accepted by Pineapple Press and came out about five months later.
MysteryNet: Tell me about your first sale, Death in Bloodhound Red.
Lanier: Bloodhound Red was my first novel. I sent the book out in first-draft form and a month later, Pineapple Press, a small Florida publisher, bought it. (After it won the Anthony in 1995 for best first novel, I went to HarperCollins for my next books.) When I found out that my first novel had been accepted to be published, I told Hoss about it. He told me that it called for a celebration. While I was still looking for dress-up clothes, he came in all spiffed up and said "Wait til the boys down at the bar hear this". And he left!
MysteryNet: Do you write your novels from an outline?
Lanier: I never outline. I don't know how. I just write until I get to the last page and then I know how it ends. I treat my characters like people, but the advantage is that if I don't like a character, I can kill them off.
MysteryNet: Is Jo Beth similar to you?
Lanier: Jo Beth is who I'd have been 35 years ago, if I hadn't met a rednecked, chauvinist, good ole-boy and raised five sons. My life has turned out a bit different. Obviously, I don't have a Bubba in my life, who tried to beat me every time he gets out of jail. That's the biggest difference.
MysteryNet: How does the Okefenokee Swamp figure into your writing?
Lanier: Well, I grew up in Florida, moved to Nevada and California, before we decided to retire to the swamps here. We live in rural Echols County just west of the Okefenokee near the Georgia-Florida line. We cleared four acres here for our place, and we're the only house on a 28 mile dirt road. I've lived here for close to 20 years. The boys think we're crazy to stay here, but we don't want to leave. I'm never lonely. I love to read.
MysteryNet: Why did you choose to write about bloodhounds? Do you own any?
Lanier: I have never owned any bloodhounds. Everything I know about them is done through research. I do love animals, though. and living in the swamp has let me see a lot of them close up. A pair of foxes raised three kits within view of the house. And five times, we've had crocodiles invade the catfish pond.
MysteryNet: What's next for you?
Lanier: Well, Hollywood keeps saying they're interested in my books and they've put them under option. Ten Little Bloodhounds is just out. I tour for each book as much as my health allows. And I have a short story in Canine Christmas, a new anthology due out from Ballantine. It definitely keeps me busy.

Jeffrey Marks, of Cincinnati, Ohio, is the editor of Canine Crimes, the author of numerous mystery short stories and a lifelong fan of crime fiction. His new anthology, Canine Christmas, will be out this fall from Ballantine and contains a story by Virginia Lanier.


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