Laura Caldwell is a lawyer-turned-author-turned-life-saver. She is a former civil trial lawyer, now a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She is also director of Life After Innocence, published author of 14 novels and one nonfiction book (to date), and speaker, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.
Caldwell’s fictional work began as chick-lit and soon turned into the mystery/thriller genre. Her first book, Burning the Map, was voted as one of the year’s best books by BarnesandNoble.com in 2002. The Chicago Tribune called A Clean Slate “a page turner.” The Year of Living Famously and The Night I Got Lucky prompted Booklist to declare, “Caldwell is one of the most talented and inventive ... writers around.” In 2009, Caldwell released a trilogy on character Izzy McNeil, a Chicago lawyer who finds her way into a myriad of situations in which she must use her wit and legal skill.
While researching her sixth novel, Caldwell was led to the criminal case of a young man sitting in a Cook County holding cell without a trial. After hearing about his case, Caldwell joined a renowned criminal defense attorney to defend him, ultimately proving his innocence and inspiring her first nonfiction book, Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him.
Connect with Laura at http://www.lauracaldwell.com
Laura Caldwell shares her current release and future plans:
Describe your latest book.
THE DOG PARK is about a couple who shares joint custody of their dog who becomes suddenly famous when a video of him goes viral.
What inspired you to write THE DOG PARK?
I’d been writing mysteries and thrillers for a while, including six books featuring my series character, Izzy McNeil. I had one book left in my contract and started plotting the seventh. At the time, I had just gotten my puppy, Shafer, and was head over heels. My publishers pointed out that my social media posts and photos had gone from books and mysteries to dogs and dogs and dogs. And they had an idea — why not write a novel involving a dog? A great beach book, something fast-moving and a little sexy. And maybe, just maybe, a happy ending. I was in.
In THE DOG PARK, we meet Baxter, a loving and lovable goldendoodle. Is there a real-life Baxter? Who were the doggie models for Baxter?
My dog, Shafer, was a typical goldendoodle puppy — adorable and friendly. And she was a big walker, so we walked all over the city, good weather or bad. (I live in Chicago and so Shafer, like the rest of us, had to wear boots and eight layers and complain as little as possible.) Shafer met people everywhere. And after she started spending a few days a week with a well-known dog walker, she started to know people on the street I’d never met. I wondered what it would be like if Shafer herself became really well-known. Say from a video or something. Baxter from THE DOG PARK was formed.
How was writing THE DOG PARK, a contemporary romance, different from your previous mystery and thriller work?
I couldn't help but have long-buried secrets revealed. You never get the mystery writer out of your blood.
What was your favorite scene in THE DOG PARK?
I love the first scene – the post-divorce banter, the love of the dog.
Jessica Champlin seems fond of adorning Baxter in flashy accessories. How does your furry friend feel about such snazzy duds?
Shafer seems to feel good about sparkly collars but put her in a coat and she gives me about 20 minutes.
What are you doing to reach out to readers and dog enthusiasts?
Every book signing has been dog-friendly and encouraging. We had them at pet stores and boutiques that allow dogs. We gave part of the proceeds to rescues and I did a promotion at a PAWS 5K run.
If you could compare your dog to any celebrity, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Shafer is her own celebrity! She knows she should update her Twitter page more often. But she makes people happy wherever she goes. She loves to work a crowd at the beach.
Why did you choose to make a dog the central character of the novel?
We wanted THE DOG PARK to be entertaining and fun, but my publisher really wanted a book with strong characters and strong relationships. Shortly into the book, I realized that Baxter, the dog whom I’d seen as more of a sub character (albeit one who drives much of the action), was definitely much more. Just like a lot of our pets, Baxter is a creature with his own personality. His own preferences and tastes and quirks.
What do you read for pleasure?
Right now I'm reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I started it a few times and put it down. Now that I’m into it, I look forward to reading it all day. That’s one of my favorite feelings in the world. I’m also looking forward to reading The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin.
What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
Overlaying all of the book is the profound, and yet often profoundly different, relationship that each different person has with their dog. There’s also the fact that social media has changed everything. It’s thrilling, but a little jarring and scary, to think that a person can be unknown at breakfast and trending on the news that night.
What was most difficult about writing THE DOG PARK?
Reliving when Shafer was hit by a car. But it was cathartic.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything new?
Anatomy of Innocence, an anthology pairing thriller writers with exonerees to tell the story of how wrongful convictions happen.
Thanks for stopping by The Blood-Red Pencil, Laura, and good luck with your new release!
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