Today’s guest is Mindy Mymudes to share a bit about her middle-grade urban fantasy novel, George Knows.
Mindy is offering some swag and a gift card to a lucky commenter. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below.
Welcome, Mindy. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My background is pretty varied. I have a master’s in biology, where I specialized in the population genetics of a rare plant. I’ve worked as a landscaper, a human anatomy instructor, a hazardous waste lab manager, a university greenhouse manager, a greyhound lead-out at a track, and a bakery clerk. There are a lot of others, but I forget. On purpose. I raise a lot of plants, some 300 under lights in my basement during the winter. And mainly I raise, train, (allegedly), and breed top-ranked performance English springer spaniels under the kennel name of Muddy Paws.
Please tell us about your current release, George Knows.
An egotistical magical basset hound named George believes it's his duty to train and protect his 12-year-old Girlpup, a greenwitch named Karly. He and his Girlpup, must solve a murder as well as save their park from being developed. George is the perfectly designed familiar for the job.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was actually trying to answer questions for an article in Dog Fancy. Instead of what I was supposed to be doing, the first three pages of a story showed up. I assumed it was about a crazy dog I once had who had climbed a ladder to steal a roofer’s lunch, scared a famous hockey player into a tree because the dog’s smile looked like a growl, intercepted a football from Joe Montana, and would break out of my house to show up during my classes. He’d find his way in, plunk himself at the back of the room, curl up to sleep, and snore and fart. Loudly. Which he never did at home. He also brought a young boy to my house, because every dog needs a boy. My husband and I became his foster parents.
After those early pages, I ended up nose to muzzle with a dog that had bad breath, a smooth coat, extremely long ears and a lot of wrinkles and loose skin. He looked me in the eyes and told me he was NO springer. Springer’s were stupid dogs that would do anything for a treat, no matter how foolish. He expected the treats, but if he thought I was going to make him do anything that didn’t make sense I was crazy. He was a perfectly designed basset hound familiar, his name was George, and he needed someone with thumbs to type his story. I understood dogs, so I would do.
I don’t understand my Girlpup; the rest of my Pack adores me. Packmom Doreen is always an easy conquest. She saved me when I was a puppy and I fell over my ears, and my legs wouldn’t stay under me. She is the most important member of the Pack—she feeds us.
Just not often enough.
Packdad Brian is very well trained and does whatever Packmom Doreen wants. In the last two years, I’ve become a model of the perfect hunting hound. Karly needs to see me for what I am, and she doesn’t.
When I prowl in her mind, I see how she pictures me—a clumsy, stupid, wobbly pup. I shouldn’t have to prove to her I am the best familiar in the world or that I am brilliant. I shouldn’t, but I know I’ll have to.
“George!” she shouts through panting. Why is she running? “Where the heck are you?”
Although Karly’s scent changed after her twelfth birthday from sweetmilkFrootLoops to that fakeflowerchemical that she thinks removes her odor, I know it’s her. Even if I can’t smell her, I can still hear her stumble over the path. Big rocks and trees that scrape the sky get in the way. She needs to get lower to the ground. Now she’s sneezing. If only she’d work with me, her allergies would go bye-bye. Whoever heard of an allergic witch-in-training? We can use green magic. But Karly will first have to trust me.
And she doesn’t.
Maybe when she gets older.
I continue to scrape my claws into the damp ground, searching for more smelltastes and listening for my Girlpup. She’s panting like it’s a hot day. At least she’s catching up. I am satisfied she’s okay, and dig like a badger with my wonderful big paws and claws, the ideal excavation tools. I wish I was digging up the den of a rabbit. I slow to sniff.
There’s no rabbit here.
Something different’s calling me.
What the heck is it?
Dirt and roots pile up behind me, and my rear is now higher than my front as I dig. I scrape against rocks and try to push them away. They aren’t rocks—too long and thin. I wrap my jaws around one and toss it with a headshake out of the hole. I find another and do the same thing, until there is a pile of buff-colored things that look like bleached driftwood.
I heave myself out of the hole and investigate my find. The thick sticks are hairy with fine roots. I pick one up. It’s light for its size, hollow, and about the size of a rawhide bone. It has a round knob on one side and is broken off on the other. I retrieve more pieces from the hole and sit.
Maybe they are old branches.
They don’t smelltaste like old branches.
Karly finally shows up, huffing and puffing, out of breath. She needs to get out more. I poke my nose into the pile of things I’ve dug out. “George, what are you doing? You aren’t, um, eating those, are you?”
I look at her like she’s crazy. I don’t eat wood.
Karly points to the things and counts them. “So what did you find? There are nine of whatever they are.” She bends down and touches one. “Weird, they look like someone snapped them in half.” My Girlpup takes one of the longer things and rubs off the dirt.
She drops it like it’s a pan just out of the oven. I take a sniff; it’s not hot. There’s something here, though.
Not a good something, either.
“G-G-George, those are bones,” Karly’s voice breaks as she stutters over my name. I take another sniff. Yeah, they could be bones. What’s the problem with that? I lick one. It tastes like dirt. They’ve been here a long time.
Just a bunch of animal bones. Maybe a big dog buried them. What’s bothering her? The hackles rise on the back of my neck. The not good gassulfurdrysnakecatstink smelltaste spins around my brain like smoke.
I hack and cough. I know exactly what kind of bones these are.
I look Karly in the eye and push a picture of a Halloween skeleton. I know she doesn’t like it when I go into her head without permission, but this is important. I am not sharing the good stuff, like manure, rotting fish, and dead animals.
“No way. These aren’t human bones,” she squeaks and backs up.
Nope, she can’t ignore these. I pick one up gently between my teeth and carry it to her feet. I carefully place it in front of her toes then shake my muzzle, lips flopping from side to side, trying to get the taste of Peep bone out of my mouth. Peep bone.
Bassets do not eat Peeps’ bones. We only chew non-peep bones. We need our Peeps to hunt for our fresh, meaty bones.
“George, leave it. We need to talk to Aunt Heather about them. She’ll know if they’re human or not, and what to do if they are.” Karly gulps. “If they aren’t…I hope they aren’t. You’ve never smelled human bones, so how’d you know?”
Um, I am your familiar. I have magical skills? There’s something off about the bones, and a weak scent gets stronger as I inhale.
It’s a really bad smelltaste
What exciting story are you working on next?
Tillie’s Tale. George once again wrested control of my laptop and showed me the story of a lost ghostygirl. He’s not sure if she should be banished because she might become a poultry-geist, or help her so she can be at peace.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not so sure I am. At least of fiction. I’ve written for dog magazines, technical articles, plant books, and texts. Well, there was a zombie love story that was published. It was originally written as a Valentine present for my husband. It went over like a lead balloon.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time, seems like I plan to write, and then I end up taking care of plants, dogs, and a house that has some odd idiosyncracies.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Fighting off the Freaky Beak so I can write. I also can’t write in long stretches. I write on legal paper with a pencil and then transcribe it onto my laptop. I get my first re-write done that way.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A geologist. Then a mining engineer. Then a gardener. Then a geneticist. Then rich. I got the geneticist part.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
George is fun to write. I think we share the same sense of sarcasm. There are things that are odd to me. How he looks at the world, only thinking in present tense. I thought I knew dogs until I met him, and I live with a pack of them. George’s world is set in Wisconsin, but it’s not set. It’s an easy state, with many strange creatures. George finds out about Hodags, and I think there are many unusual things he’ll discover over time. Or maybe he knows, and I’m the one that’ll make the discoveries.