Welcome Guest Wendall Thomas #giveaway

qnofdnilesblog is the winner of a copy of Fogged Off. Watch for an email from Wendall! I met Wendall when she was moderating a panel I was on titled Rolling in the Aisles. Wendall is a fantastic moderator and kept us all laughing. I’m so excited to introduce you to her and her funny Cyd Redondo mystery series. The third book, Fogged Off, released on Tuesday. Look for the giveaway at the end of the post!

Reptiles and Tigers and Mice, Oh My!

Everyone loves pandas. Everyone loves dolphins. But what about the Visayan warty pig, the numbat, or the gastric brooding frog?

Not all of the fifty most endangered animals on the planet are cute –well, numbats are pretty cute—but they’re all vital to their individual ecosystems and to the planet overall and they’re disappearing, if I may misquote Annie Lamott, “frog by frog.”

When I decided to set the first Cyd Redondo mystery in Tanzania and began researching crime there, it opened up my mind up to the sinister world of endangered animal smuggling and the broader issue of wildlife extinction. Despite watching David Attenborough on PBS, I was still woefully ignorant on this issue and a bit embarrassed about taking on such a serious topic in what was, essentially, a beach book.

To my surprise, Sgt. Ian Knox of Scotland Yard’s Wildlife Crime Prevention Unit put my mind at rest. He was a big fan of the “spoonful of sugar” approach, saying a book like mine might make someone who hadn’t thought about these issues think twice about buying python boots or tortoise shell barrettes, or inspire them to join the World Wildlife Fund.

So he and his team took me through their horrifying evidence room, told me a million stories, put me in touch with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the theme for my series was born. I’d never imagined myself writing animals as characters, but remembering the beloved books of my youth like Black Beauty, The Yearling, or The Jungle Book gave me the courage to try.

After spending time with the wildlife agents, I was determined to focus on animals that didn’t normally get attention, animals that might make Cyd, or us, uncomfortable. Like my character, I am utterly freaked out by most reptiles, so I figured I would start there for maximum conflict and a real learning curve for her, and created Barry the Madagascan chameleon as her first sidekick. As soon as I imagined him taking out her false eyelashes with his tongue, I was off.

The choice for Drowned Under was easy, as Tasmania has one of the most famous “functionally extinct” species ever—the thylacine or Tasmanian tiger. Even as babies, they’re fierce creatures with very sharp teeth and a strange, keening bark, so I knew Howard would make things more complicated and funnier for Cyd, while still offering insight into the world of wildlife crime.

Researching my newest book, Fogged Off, I happened upon an irresistible rodent—the highly endangered hazel dormouse. The species had its “fifteen minutes of fame” in Alice in Wonderland, but my eco-enthusiast character, Grey Hazelnut, insists these creatures are underappreciated. “When he’s motivated in mating season, that little guy can jump ten meters. . . They sing to the females at night with this trilling kind of sound. And their pheromones are so strong that humans can smell them.”

They also sleep curled up with their tails held over their faces and make a distinctive, snuffling snore which is unbearably cute— unless it’s coming out of your purse. Bruce, the dormouse, allowed me to highlight how loss of habitat contributes to wildlife extinction, and how important it is to use Tupperware when you travel.

Readers, do you have a favorite animal character from your childhood, or from books you’ve read since? Wendall will give away one copy of Fogged Off to someone who leaves a comment. (US only)

BIO: Wendall Thomas teaches in the Graduate Film School at UCLA, lectures internationally on screenwriting, and has worked as an entertainment reporter, development executive, script consultant, and film and television writer. Her Cyd Redondo series has been nominated for an Anthony, a Macavity, and two Lefty awards. 

When travel agent Cyd Redondo’s client and Jack the Ripper expert Shep Helnikov is found dead in London, she navigates the cutthroat worlds of research librarians, unemployed actors, embassy underlings, rodent smugglers, and more to find his killer and bring his body back home.

WEBSITE ADDRESS: www.wendallthomas.com

BUY LINK ON AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Fogged-Off-Wendall-Thomas/dp/1954717539/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

52 Thoughts

  1. WENDALL: Welcome back to the Wickeds!

    You know that I adore Cyd Redondo and loved reading all 3 books in the series, including FOGGED OFF.

    Yes, Cyd is the main protagonist but a key character in each of your books is those unique, endangered creatures. I like how you are able to highlight the global issue of wildlife smuggling in such a fun way.
    Barry, Howard and now the adorably cute Bruce make me smile.

    I would have to say that CHARLOTTE and WILBUR are my fave animal characters (and I hate spiders in real life) that I remember reading about as a child.

    And in mysteries, I enjoy the K-9 dogs by several authors including Margaret Mizushima (Robo) and Paula Munier (Elvis).

    Don’t include me in the draw for FOGGED OFF since I already enjoyed reading a digital ARC and I live in Canada.

    1. Grace! Thank you so much for posting. I actually woke up in the middle of the night after I sent off this post thinking “I forgot Charlotte’s Web!” Love those too. Good calls on the Mizushima and Munier books! Thanks, as ever for your kind words about the series!

  2. I love, love, love your Cyd Redondo series. Don’t enter me, but my favorite animal is Winnie The Pooh.

    1. Dru! The Winnie the Pooh books are, like Alice Through the Looking Glass, books I still reread on a regular basis as an adult. I love them. There’s a picture of me somewhere, with a stuff Eeyore that is bigger than I am. Thanks, as always, for all your kindness about the series!

      1. Ah, Grace, it’s somewhere in a box of family photos I’ve been meaning to scan for about five years…when I dig it out, I’ll post. Thanks.

  3. What a great series theme, Wendall. And also that you got to spend time with a Scotland Yard officer – very cool. Best of luck with the new book.

    My vote goes to Stuart Little. So helpful, so hopeful, and a bit clueless.

    1. Edith. Thank you so much. Yes, it was very cool to go to Scotland Yard. Their evidence room was where I truly got what was happening, which is why Sgt. Knox made me come, I’m sure. Stuart Little!!! Loved! Thanks for reminding me and for posting.

  4. I’ve always loved and still do, koala bears. I hope to one day go to Australia so that I can see them and hold one. I had a friend that did that and had her picture taken with the koala. I enjoy the Miranda James series with Diesel the Maine Coon Cat. If a book has a cat on the cover, I am tempted to buy it. Your book sounds very interesting. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. Believe it or not, when I was in Australia doing research for my second book, a friend drove my husband and me through a “koala” forest, where there were hundreds of them above us in the eucalyptus trees. It was amazing! I’d still like to hold one, though, so we can both dream about doing that someday. Thank you for posting and entering!

      1. Wow. That must have been amazing indeed, Barbara! They are incredible creatures and also endangered. Let’s hope they hang on so we can all have pictures like that. Thank you for posting!

    1. Hi Liz. Yes, the Jungle Book is great. My husband still sings “Trust in Me” from the film version when he’s trying to talk me into something! I think Paula Munier’s Elvis is winning as the “current” animal and I completely see why! Thank you for posting!

  5. Welcome, Wendall! I love how you incorporate your theme of endangered animals but don’t hammer our heads with it or become preachy. I adore Cyd and her brousins. I always loved all the animals who helped Cinderella.

    1. Sherry! I feel so privileged to be here and thanks for making the post look so good! I really appreciate all your kind words about Cyd and the series. It means so much, coming from one of my favorite authors. Cinderella! The mice! I just saw the whole Disney version of that in my head. Thank you for reviving that memory, and putting in a good word for mice!

  6. Welcome to the Wickeds, Wendall. I’ve felt a kinship with this book since I first saw it publicized since I wrote the book Fogged Inn. We should do a panel. Fogged Off/Fogged Inn!

    1. Barbara! I love the Fogged Off/Fogged Inn idea! We can go on the road (or online…) as the Misty Sisters or something. Thank you so much for the kind words and for having me. It’s my first time on the Wickeds and I’m thrilled.

    1. Hi Mary. Thanks so much for posting. In a strange coincidence, I hadn’t read Spencer Quinn’s books until this week, but I’m on a panel with him at the Midwest Mystery Conference tomorrow morning, so I’ve been in Chet’s head all week…

  7. Sounds like a series I should be reading! I really like reading about animals, especially the endangered species. Adding this series to my TBR list.

  8. Good morning, wow, I loved reading your post and what an eye opener for alot of people about animals. That is just so sad how people will do that to animals , especially smuggling endangered species! I love animals of all kinds , except I am a little scared of snakes . My favorite childhood book with animals in it is Charlottes Web, I loved, loved it, such a beautiful story. Your book sounds like a Great read! Thank you for the chance. Have a great weekend and stay safe. Thank you for being and advocate for all the animals.

    1. Thanks so much for your post, Alicia. Yes, the smuggling is so horrible, I was just shocked when I really dug in and read about how widespread it was. I, too, am terrified of snakes, and I, too, LOVED Charlotte’s Web. It’s great to hear that other readers are concerned about this issue, too, so thank you for that.

    1. They are extraordinary! I would have used them as my Tanzanian endangered animals, if I could have fit them into Cyd’s purse! It’s big, but not that big. Thanks so much for posting!

  9. So fascinating to hear about the inspiration and research behind your books, Wendall! (Also, chameleon sidekicks are in. I mean, look at Tangled.)

    No need to put me in the giveaway–I just wanted to tell you congrats!

  10. Congrats on the new book! My copy should be arriving today.

    I’ve been a fan of lions since I met Aslan in Narnia. Not sure I’d want to see one while alone in real life, however.

    1. Mark! I’m dying to know what you think. Yes, lions are so amazing, but I would be pretty nervous about seeing one without at least a fence between us. I think that’s part of what made the Narnia books so good, because we could understand the attraction and the danger of Aslan. Thanks for posting!

  11. Great way to raise awareness of a serious problem. My favorite fictional animal as a child was “The Cold-Blooded Penguin”. It’s about a penguin who was always cold and finally floated on an iceberg to a tropical island. I was always cold as a child and still am. I could really relate to that penguin. I still have the book some 65+ years later.

    1. Wow! I remember that book! I hadn’t thought about that in forever. Thank you so much, Ginny. That brings me back. And I’m cold most of the time, too. In fact, it’s just about time for me to get out my fingerless gloves for typing in the house…Thank you so much for posting!

  12. My favorite animal was the black sheep in So Dear To My Heart.a Disney movies from the 50’s.

    1. Wow. That sounds great, I don’t know that one. Thanks so much for mentioning it, I will have to check it out. I appreciate your posting, Candy!

  13. There are so many lovely animal characters in children’s books that I love: Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad, Russell Hoban’s badger Frances etc., but my very favorite animal characters are: Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail! Best of luck with your new book!

  14. Judy– the Wind in the Willows, how could I have missed listing that! And Frances. I love your choices, though. Fantastic memories of those books. Thank you so much for the kind words and for posting!

  15. Barry is still my favorite – full of surprises to the end! The whole series is delightful and I am spoiling myself with this series. After a year and a half of preparing for a site survey visit at work, it is now done, we survived, and I am treating myself to binge reading. Cyd hits the spot!! Thank you, Wendall – please keep writing!!

    1. Georgina–what a lovely, lovely post. Thank you so much. Congratulations on your site survey and I am honored that my books are something worth doing at the end of all that! I really appreciate all your encouragement, always!

  16. Love books like this and this book sounds like very intriguing and like a great read. Would love to read & review in print format. Love book cover.
    I’ve always loved mysteries.
    A favorite animal character is the Lion Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia. Loved reading this box set.
    Please enter me
    Hope I win

    1. Hi Crystal, thank you so much for your interest and I’m thrilled you like the cover. I love Aslan, too. Those books were so important to me when I was a kid. I really appreciate your posting to enter!

  17. As a child, I loved Bambi. My uncle would hunt deer in the Fall. I would tell him as a child that he was a Bambi killer. He would laugh at me. My family always tried to get me to eat deer meat. I could tell right away that it was deer.I would not eat it. I would tell them I would not eat Bambi.

    1. Hi Debbie. Bambi. I feel like crying just thinking about Bambi and I completely understand the Dad/hunter thing, too. I love that, even a child, you stuck by your principles! Thank you so much for posting!

  18. I loved Bambi as a child. We too, had hunters in my family growing up. That movie stuck with me. Even to this day, I won’t eat deer meat!
    Excited to read your book!! Thanks for the chance!

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