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Monday, February 28, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Kandy Shepherd

Today my guest author calls the Blue Mountains near Sydney (Australia) home even though she was born and raised in Sri Lanka, India, England and Ireland during her younger years. She lives on a farm with her husband, daughter and a menagerie of animal friends.

She's swapped a fast-paced career as an editorial director of a major magazine publisher for a life as an author.

Writing for the Berkley Sensation line her books are a delightful combination of romance, mystery and dogs!

Please welcome Aussie Berkley author, Kandy Shepherd.

Kandy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
I love visiting your blog Kylie and it’s quite a thrill to be here as one of your guest authors—thanks so much for inviting me to visit!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I write fun, feel-good fiction. My contemporary romances, LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, are published by Berkley Sensation. As well as writer and magazine editor, you can also count me in as wife, mother and “guardian” (so not PC to say we “own” our pets!) to a multitude of four-legged friends.

You can't beat living with some four-legged friends, they're great company. I'm a "guardian" to three of the feline kind!

So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
As a kid, I was always making up stories and forcing my family to read them—the teachers at school were much more encouraging than my brothers!

Barely out of my teens I had my first short stories published in women's magazines. Talk about beginner's luck! Then I got sidetracked into magazines—a career I loved. But the urge to write fiction—like an addiction—wouldn’t go away.

I kept plodding away in the time I could snatch between a challenging job, a family, those numerous pets and, of course, the dreaded housework. I had quite a few years wandering in the unpublished wilderness until I had my first novel MITCHELL’S NANNY (I didn’t choose that title!) published by a small Australian publisher and then went on to be published in the US by Berkley. I still work as a consultant editor on a food magazine.

What a great early experience you had with getting published and you're so right about writing being an addiction, LOL! And I think a lot of people are surprised when they realise many published authors juggle other jobs as well as our family life to pursue our passion. Making a living from publishing our books isn't the lucrative business some assume it to be (unless we're Nora or JKR or Debbie!)

I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
People, relationships, snatches of overheard conversations, odd pieces of information I pick up from reading and observing.

For example, in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD the heroine Maddy has a best friend Serena who is a dog nut. Visiting San Francisco, I heard about an upscale doggy day care center. What a dream job for Serena to run such a center! What if I created a hero who was as scathing about pampered pooches as the guy who told me about the doggy day care? And what if there was a mystery involved and he had to go undercover at Paws A While, my fictional pooch-pampering parlor? That’s how Serena’s story, HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, was born…

Ahh, so next time you notice someone eavesdropping on your conversation you might discover they're an author in disguise!

This meeting and observing of people leads me into my next question. You've done a lot of travelling around the globe. What’s the most unusual place you have visited?
Quite a few years ago I travelled around the south of India with a charity I was helping with some publicity. It was like stepping back in time when we visited way-off-the-beaten-track villages whose people had not seen Westerners before—places no tourist ever sees. I will never forget those people, especially the children.

Kandy & Molly
You have what sounds like a large menagerie of animals on your farm. With your love for animals, do you have a pet that keeps you company when you write?
I am rarely without at least one cat on my lap as I write. Animals are such an important part of my life and sneak into everything I write.

The doggy characters in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS are as important as the human characters. (BTW, my dogs don’t talk and we are never in their viewpoint. They’re dogs!) Characterization is all-important in a romance and creating unique characters who connect emotionally with the reader is vital—whether they are human, feline, canine or equine.

With two books now out with Berkley, what's next for you? What are you working on?
I’m working on another doggy-themed romance and hope to have good news to share soon.

Can't wait to hear what that good news will be, Kandy (a new contract perhaps?). Hmm, we'll have to wait and see - doggone it!!! (heh, heh, couldn't resist, sorry)

To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
I wish I’d grown a tougher skin a bit sooner and not been so easily discouraged by early rejections. But I believe everything happens at the time it is meant to happen. Life and all its various experiences are a writer’s raw material. The more you engage in life, the more you have to write about.

The most important thing is to be true to your vision, develop your own voice and don’t give up. Oh, and keep butt on chair!

Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Kandy, it's been a hoot having you here.

The goodness doesn't end there though, folks. Kandy has generously donated a copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS to one lucky person.

All you have to do is leave a comment or question for Kandy by Saturday, 5th February, 2011, and you'll go into the draw for this book. (open to everyone here in Oz or overseas).

For more information about Kandy or her books, please visit her website, blog, or follow her on her Facebook page.


  1. Hi Kylie, Hello Kandy,

    What an awesome advice to aspiring writers, Kandy, thanks! And it was great reading about you.

    Thank you Kylie, for bringing her to us!

  2. Hey, Kandy, great to see you here. Waving wildly to Kylie! Kandy, it's funny how you know someone well and still these interviews show up something new. I had no idea about the trip to southern India. We'll have to talk about it next time we're together. Congratulations on your lovely romances - I'm not at all surprised that Love is a Four-Legged Word won the most popular contemporary romance at the Australian Romance Readers Awards last year. It's a delight from the tip of its tail to its wet cold nose!

  3. Hi Kylie and Kandy,

    What an enjoyable interview. I've loved all of your books Kandy (and I do mean all - I even read your very first pre-Berkley book and knew then you were an author I had to follow. I'll second Anna's congratulations on your wonderfully deserved win last year at the Australian Romance Readers Awards.

    I'm wondering if you'll use more of your magazine editing background in a future book. To an outsider it sounds so fascinating.

  4. Hi Kylie and Kandy,

    Kandy, as an unashamedly "dog" person I LOVE the titles of your books! My Shepherd is thirteen years old--which is apparently quite a good age for a large dog--and I simply don't know what I'm going to do when she decides its time to leap after that great golden ball in the sky. Home truly is where the "bark" is.

    I adore the premise for LOVE IS A FOUR LEGGED WORD. It sounds a lot of fun.

    Thanks for sharing with us today--and thanks too, Kylie!

  5. Hey Nas, Karen & Annie. You guys are sure the early birds!

    Don't forget Kandy is up for a couple of ARRAwards nominations this year, too! HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS has been nominated for Favourite Contemporary Romance & Favourite Romance Author for 2010.

    For those interested in checking out the link (and seeing what other fantastic authors made the cut) - http://www.australianromancereaders.com.au/awards.html

  6. Gracie! Oh, I bet Maggie has read this interview over your shoulder and promptly ordered both books online from the Book Depository! I think she'd love to read them with you!

    Glad you enjoyed the interview, Gracie, thanks for dropping in.

  7. Hi Kylie & Kandy
    As a self confessed animal junkie (nine horses, 1 cow, three dogs)I love animal themed stories. Love is a Four Legged Word is one of my keepers. Really looking forward to your next book Kandy.

  8. Hi Kandy, love the insights into your writing. As another doggie nut I love both your books - although Zeus's nose was a little out of joint that he was being ignored in favour of someone else's dog!

    Can't wait for your next book :-)

    Another lovely interview, Kylie!

  9. Kylie, thanks for sharing your interview with Kandy.
    And, Kandy, thanks for your sharing a few insights into your writing life.
    Bob-cat, Minnie, Tana and Ruby (two cats, two dogs) share our lives and there always have to be animals in my WIPs too. You've given me hope that plenty of readers like animals in their books, so I'll be ordering your great-sounding books soon!
    All the best with more books in the pipeline.

  10. Animal themes certainly resonate with readers - dogs, cats, horses, cows! LOl

    And sounds like your books are a hit with readers, Kandy - woohoo! No wonder you won the ARRAward last year and were nominated again this year!

  11. Hi Kylie, it's wonderful to be here! Talking about juggling jobs, I'm at the "day job" today but am taking the opportunity at lunch time to pop in and answer comments. (For Australian readers, I edit the Coles supermarket magazine and am working on the Easter issue. Go chocolate!)

  12. Hi Nas, so glad to hear you enjoyed the interview. I'd be happy if any small crumb of advice helped you in your own journey to publication!

  13. Hello ladies, I love animal themed books! Kandy have you thougt of writing a cat themes book? LOL! Thanks for sharing great post with us today!


  14. Well, I just had to go and buy Kandy's books today :) Dogs, mystery and romance. It was too much to resist!

  15. Johanna - thanks for leaving an email address, it'll make it easy to contact you if your name is drawn out for the give-away - and I'm with you on the cat theme book! Go felines!!! (I suspect though that Kandy's dogs might get a bit upset with her switching sides).

    Hey, Cate, wow, how great that you went straight out and bought Kandy's book! The power of the written word strikes again!

  16. Hi Kandy and Kylie! Lovely interview!

    Kandy, you've given great advice for all writers - especially the bit about keeping the "butt on chair"! LOL

    I can't wait to hear more about your next doggy-themed romance. Your four-footed characters are gorgeous! And the hero and heroine, of course!

  17. Hey, good point, Sharon. Any chance of a hint or two about the next canine star, Kandy?

  18. Hi Kylie, I don't know why some of my replies to our wonderful comments haven't come through but they haven't. I'm off home from the magazine office soon and will try again from home!

  19. Hi Kandy, so glad your books have been a howling success. They sound grrrreat. I can't believe I've never read them because we're all a bit barking mad here - even the furpals! Good luck for the awards and thanks for popping in to visit. (Hope Kylie's cats have forgiven her...)

    PS - Have you ever misspelt your publisher as 'Barkley'? :-)

  20. Okay, I'm back at my home desk now and trying to remember what I wrote in the responses eaten up by Blogger!It's fabulous to read through so many thoughtful comments!

  21. Anna, you mean I haven't bored you to pieces with my travels in India? Hmm, you have that to look forward to next time we catch up!
    Thank you for your kind words about LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD. You were there at the beginning and always with encouragement. And of course I clearly remember reading the first version of your CLAIMING THE COURTESAN and knowing it was the start of an amazing career..

  22. Hey Annie,lovely to see you here! It seems like a long time ago that we had our first novels published by a small Australian publisher, doesn't it? Such a nice way to meet--and of course it's been thrilling for me to see your climb to become a best-selling HM&B author!
    Looking forward to seeing you at the ARRA awards--I am nominated in two categories but you are nominated THREE times!!
    I use my magazine background to some extent in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD where the heroine Maddy works as a food editor on a glossy magazine. But the chick lit novel I wrote that had quite a lot of magazine stuff sadly never found a publisher.. maybe one day!

  23. Hi Gracie, I'm so glad the titles of my books resonate with you as a dog-lover. Stories I wrote earlier often had dogs and cats in them but had to be ruthlessly self-edited out. It was fabulous when my books were published because of the doggy characters!
    I know how you feel about the bittersweet love we have for our ageing animals. I've had my beautiful Albert cat for 19 and a half years; he's getting very frail and I can't bear the thought of losing him... Enjoy every moment with your Shepherd.

  24. OMG, Helen, nine horses-how wonderful! My daughter is the horse nut in our family and we have four of them. Even though she has grown out of two of them we can't bear to sell them as they are part of our family. I have always admired horses but was a bit scared of them. Having my own I have grown to really love them and appreciate their distinct personalities.
    I can't tell you how heartwarming it is to read that LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD is on hour keeper shelf!

  25. Hi Helene, so lovely to see you here and thanks for the kind words about my books. I loved your first and bought copies as gifts for friends who I knew would appreciate a wonderful romantic suspense set in Australia. I can't wait to read your new one SHATTERED SKY.

  26. Hey Cate, if there is a dog or cat on the cover of a book, I'll pick it up! Good luck with writing yours, I'll be in line to buy one when they are published! I think you can reveal a lot about your human characters in your stories when you show how they react to animals.

  27. Hey Johanna, how nice to see you here!
    Cats? I love dogs but I absolutely adore cats and people often ask me why such a cat-woman writes about dogs. There are minor cat characters in both my books. Somehow, though, I find it easier to write dogs as characters because they tend to be more active and are not so home centered. Never say never, though!

  28. Hey Cate, thanks for buying my books. I so hope you enjoy them. If you would like a signed book plate, contact me at


    and I'll mail some out to you.
    That goes for anyone else here, too, of course!

  29. Hi Sharon, how nice of you to drop by! Thanks for you nice words about my stories. Of course even though I love writing my doggy characters, the hero and heroine are the truly important people in a romance--just like in your wonderful books...

  30. My next canine star Kylie? Can I just say "very naughty Beagle".

  31. LOL Clare, I never thought of Barkley!!!
    Working with my lovely editor at Berkley on the back cover copy for HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS we must have explored every doggy pun there is--but not that one!
    BTW, Clare is one of my favorite names. There is a Claire (with an I) in HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS and I liked writing her so much she is getting her own story...

  32. Great interview, Kylie and Kandy! Kandy, your books sound so fun! Great titles and covers have got me thinking I need to read one soon! Congrats on your journey! :)

  33. P.S. Silly maybe, off-topic a little, but I LOVE the Coles magazine! LOL! Great work! :)

  34. Hey Kitty, hope you like my books if you get a chance to read them.
    I'm delighted to hear you love the Coles Magazine! Some wonderful recipes coming up in the Autumn/Easter issue... (It's extremely difficult to not put on weight working on this magazine with all the yummy stuff our food team comes up with!)

  35. Hi Kylie and Kandy
    I took the hubby to our local pet store yesterday to see the most gorgeous miniature foxie pups and a cute ginger kittie..............unfortunately didn't bring them home, we really do have enough already but they were SSSOOOO cute ♥
    Anyway best of look with the ARRAwards Kandy

  36. Hey Kylie and Kandy

    Great interview and looking forward to reading your books, Kandy. The titles really are very catchy. Do you get inundated with doggy jokes these days?


  37. Zana, Cath, Claire & Kitty - hey, ladies, great to have you drop in and say hi to Kandy.

    Claire, you crack me up as well as make me groan. (shakes head)

    Cath, it's dangerous walking into pet stores when you're a sucker for small animals!

    A naughty beagle sounds like a hoot, Kandy! LOL

  38. Hi, Kandy and Kylie!

    Kandy, isn't it lovely to have so many furry friends around to "help" with the writing? I can't wait to read your next book. I love your strong, witty heroines. And, though your dog characters don't speak, they have such vibrant personalities.

  39. It's a skilled art making an animal come alive in the pages of a book, eh, Vanessa?

  40. Hi Kandy!
    I haven't yet read your books, but yes, best on intentions as I've heard great things about them - and what's not to love about a romance and dogs!!
    I also have a cat who shares my computer! =)

  41. Hi Cath, I know just what you mean about looking longingly in pet stores. Sometimes I want one of the kittens or puppies so much it hurts! I also spend too much time on animal pet rescue sites aching to give a sad eyed animal a new home. But, like you, I have a husband who reminds me of how many animals we already have. (But he doesn't object to me giving a donation to the rescue site!)
    Thanks for your best wishes for the ARRA awards.

  42. Hi Tayga, yes I do get some doggy jokes coming my way--all are welcome!
    Glad you like the titles of my books--I came up with them myself and was so glad my editor liked them.

  43. Hi Vanessa, thanks for dropping in. Thank you also for your nice words about my heroines. I like them too, in fact they seem very real to me.
    I know you have some beautiful feline friends to "help" you with your writing.

  44. Hey Mel, I wonder if your cat is like mine--it's not so much about "sharing" my computer but more about them deigning to let me use it sometimes as I remove them from the keyboard. It can get quite uncomfortable having a hot, heavy cat on my lap as I type! But I love having them there, especially when I am writing late into the night in a quiet, empty house...

  45. Hi Kandy
    I love your books. They're so lively and full of engaging characters. Who can ever forget Brutus and I want to own Mac. I can't to read more of your books.

  46. Hi Kandy and Kylie. Fantastic interview. I totally loved Love is a Four Legged Word and have made my library order your next book (still to come). Totally loved Brutus. I agree with Kylie who said your dogs may not talk but they definitely speak volumes.

    And I've just seen you have a dog called Zeus. Ours is called Thia (Thee-a), which another name for Zeus in Greek. :0)

    Congrats on the success of your books and may we be slobbered with many more in future.... :0)

  47. Morning Kylie, Morning Kandy,

    Kandy I don't have any dogs around to help but I have 5 cats & one is a keen gardener particularly when I have a pair of sheers in my hand.

    The gardeneing tends to get patchy when I have his help.

    Thanks Kylie for introducing me to another interesting Aussie writer.

    Kandy your books sound like just what I need at the moment. I will have to track them down.

  48. Kandy, I think your books might have found some new homes with some of our readers/commenters! Woohoo!

  49. Hey Cathleen, so nice to see you here! While so many readers love Brutus from LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD, I think you fell in love with Mack from HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS from the first time you read about him in early drafts of the story!

  50. Hi Robyn as I said in one of my early posts, although I love dogs I am a cat woman through and through--I adore them. I love the way cats "help" around the house and in the garden. Mine particularly love "helping" when I change the sheets on the bed. Such fun if they get in under the sheets just where I want to tuck them in..
    I hope you get a chance to read my books. People tell me that they really cheer them up!

  51. Hey Eleni, I was so thrilled when you emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me how much you enjoyed LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD. So pleased to hear you have HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS on order at the library.
    Brutus, Coco and their puppies "guest star" in the second book but the focus is on a big, sad-eyed mutt named Mack--I really enjoyed writing him. As the book is set in a doggy daycare there are some lovely supporting character dogs too!

  52. Kylie, thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog. It's been such fun to be here and read such lovely comments from your followers.
    I hope anyone who picks up my books as a result enjoys them--do let me know!
    Kandy xx

  53. There's no greater compliment than getting an email saying a reader enjoyed your book. I know I've sent my fair share of fan mail.

    Kandy, good luck with your next book! Looking forward to reading your name as a winner at ARRC awards! :-)