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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spotlight on Sandra Robbins and Pedigreed Blood Lines


Sandra Robbins is a former teacher and principal in the Tennessee public schools. She now writes full time and teaches as an adjunct college professor. She and her husband have four children and five grandchildren. Sandra is active in her church where she plays the organ and directs the handbell choir. Her love of mysteries can be traced to her childhood and the thrill of losing herself in the Nancy Drew mysteries.

by Sandra Robbins
Published by Spyglass Lane Mysteries


When Leigh Dennison's friend Addie Jordan is murdered and Leigh inherits her kennel of show dogs, Leigh finds herself a person of interest by the police in the crime. Leigh is determined to find the killer of the woman she loved like a mother and clear her name. Her list of suspects includes a homeless Vietnam veteran, a young high school dropout, the owner of a rival kennel, and the man with whom she's falling in love. As the clues begin to fall into place, Leigh finds out there's another reason why dogs are called man's best friend.


1. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

I heard about Barbour's new Heartsong Presents Mysteries line, and I thought I would try my hand at writing a cozy mystery. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and graduated to more sophisticated mysteries as I grew older. However, I think there's still a part of that young sleuth in me.

Before I began to write, I familiarized myself with all the ingredients of a cozy—a quirky character for a sleuth, a crime that happens off-scene, and red herrings thrown in to divert the reader. Barbour also requires a Christian theme to run through the story and at least 20% romance.

After understanding all the requirements, I began to consider all my interests and which ones could grab the attention of a reader. I'm a dog lover and dote on my Yorkshire terrier Belle. Since everyone knows that dogs are man's best friend, I thought a story set in a kennel for show dogs would be appealing.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

One of the most appealing things about a cozy mystery is the quirky cast of characters that inhabit the story. I spent a lot of years in education as a teacher and a principal, and one of the things I dealt with on a day-to-day basis was that many children today suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. Of course many adults do, too, but there wasn't a name for it when they were growing up. I thought it would be interesting to write an adult character that suffers from ADD but also has a desire to solve mysteries.

One of the misconceptions about people who suffer from ADD is that they aren't very smart. On the contrary they are very intelligent people who have to find alternate ways of dealing with their inability to concentrate. I try to show that by the way Leigh deals with staying focused on a task. One of her traits is that every time she puts clothes in the washer she has to keep repeating put the soap in the washer, put the soap in the washer, or she knows the machine will grind its way through every cycle without detergent.

I suppose my experience in education influenced the fact that Blake, the heroine, is a teacher with a heart for kids. He demonstrates this in his concern for a young high school dropout. I've also seen the effects that dropping out of school can have on someone's life.

3. What themes exist in Pedigreed Blood Lines that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The main theme that I wanted readers to come away with is that we aren't placed in this world to live for ourselves. Jesus commanded us to love the Lord with all our hearts, but He also said for us love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I found it interesting to develop the changes in Leigh's life as she comes to understand what Jesus meant by loving those around us. I hope also that readers will examine their own lives to see if they open their eyes to the needs of others or if they find ways to simply ignore them.

As for themes that developed as the story progressed, I suppose I would have to cite the effect Addie's death had on Leigh. I believe our words and actions live on in the lives of those we've encountered after we're gone. Leigh found it easy to ignore Addie when she talked about really seeing the people around her, but she later came to understand what Addie had been trying to tell her all along. I hope readers will recognize the lasting effects our lives have on generations to come.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

I suppose the parts that dealt with the character of Preacher were the most difficult parts to write. He is patterned after a homeless Vietnam veteran I heard of some years ago. At the time he was living under a bridge and had suffered some horrible experiences at the hands of some people. I had friends who were victims of the Vietnam War, both in battle and in their lives afterwards, and it has always troubled me that the horrors of that time in American history still haunt so many today.

My favorite parts had to do with Leigh and Blake falling in love. I'm just a romantic at heart and love to read a good love story.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is Murder in Small Doses. It will release in February, 2009, from Barbour and is the second in the Leigh Dennison Mystery Series. In this story Leigh has just completed the Citizens' Police Academy and sees herself as a trained investigator. She talks the chief of police into letting her volunteer at the police station, much to the dismay of Detective John Sawyer. When Leigh's high school librarian is murdered and her cat disappears, Leigh stumbles onto another mystery that will take her into the world of illegal bunchers and unscrupulous class B animal dealers. Also Leigh and Blake encounter a few roadblocks along the way in their romance.

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Thank you, Sandra, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Pedigreed Blood Lines.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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Pamela J said...

What a difficult thing to open our eyes to the needs of others, though we are right in the midst of those needs. Sounds like a great book. Please enter me. Thanks.
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Cherie J said...

I love an unusual plot. Sounds like a good story.

tetewa said...

Enjoy a mystery!

Sandra Robbins said...

Thanks for hosting me. Also thank you to all who stopped by.


Carole said...

I have been a fan of cozy mysteries for more years than I care to admit, and would love to try the Heartsong series. Thanks for the chance to win this book.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

windycindy said...

I so enjoy reading your questions and the author's answers. Learning about the person behind the book teaches me a lot! The "Heartsong Mysteries" are some of my most favorite ones to read. Please enter me in your delightful book drawing. Many thanks,

ChristyJan said...

I enjoyed reading this interview.
Pedigreed Blood Lines sounds like a great read.

Carolynn said...

Sounds like a fun book, thanks for the chance to win!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner for this drawing, and that is:


I've sent your mailing information to Sandra, so she can send out your book.

NINE other drawing winners announced. Check out the posts on Rene Gutteridge, Vickie McDonough, Tina Ann Forkner, Donita K. Paul, Nancy Moser, Marlo Schalesky, Gayle Roper, Tamera Alexander and Allison Pittman.

Thanks, as always, for your support.

tetewa said...

Thanks, I can't wait for it!