Sneaky interviews Coal, the Dog, from Fair Trade, A Barks and Beans Cozy Mystery by Heather Day Gilbert

Hello, there, Mr. Dog. Welcome to my blog. May I ask your name and your author’s name?

My name is Coal and I’m a Great Dane. My author is Heather Day Gilbert.

Tail wags to you both. What book(s) have you appeared in? Please list them and their genre.

I’m in the Barks & Beans Cafe mystery series—Book 1 is No Filter, Book 2 is Iced Over, Book 3 is Fair Trade, and Book 4 (up for preorder) is Spilled Milk.

Are you in a series? If so, please give information about it.

Yes, the Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series is unique in that it features a cafe where customers can enjoy coffee and relax while petting shelter dogs. My owner, Macy, and her brother Bo run the place…and they’ve made a lot of good human/dog matches over the past year they’ve been open. I’m actually a rescued dog myself. 😉

Very nice.

Are you based on a real dog such as your author’s? If so, please give further details.

I’m loosely based on one of my owner’s favorite dogs, her (sadly deceased) Shiloh shepherd, Liesel. Shilohs are a large breed, though not quite as big as Great Danes.

Aww. I’m loosely based on Debbie’s Siamese cat Oliver, who passed away three years ago this month.

Can you share an excerpt from one of your books that features you in an important scene? If so, please include it.

Here’s a scene from me at Thanksgiving dinner in Iced Over. I hope it’s evident that, despite my size, I’m quite a well-mannered canine.

“My black Great Dane, Coal, shot me a polite and somewhat apologetic look from his pillow in the living room. The moment I’d started bustling around the table, he’d sat back on his haunches and made a rather Herculean effort to ignore me. His casual act didn’t fool me. We both knew that if I took the time to set the table, food would show up soon—most likely arriving with Bo, who was the cook in the family.

I’d surprised myself, though, by giving into a wild urge to replicate Auntie A’s mashed potatoes for the Thanksgiving meal. After several failed attempts, I’d finally gotten my potatoes mashed to perfection, blended with just enough milk, salt and pepper, and butter. I had a bowl of potatoes sitting in the microwave, waiting for the guests to arrive, at which point I’d heat them and drown them in even more butter.

To expand upon my mashed potato offering this Thanksgiving, I’d made yeast rolls and warmed a couple of cans of Auntie A’s canned applesauce. The rolls were turning a lovely golden brown, and the house smelled of apples, cinnamon, and bread—a heady combination that seemed just right.

Thankfully, Bo was handling the turkey, as well as the stuffing and gravy. Our pet shelter owner friend, Summer Adkins, was bringing a tossed salad and a couple of pies for dessert. Bo and I had agreed that we needed to invite a third party, simply because we’d celebrated the holiday for so many years with the two of us and Auntie A. We were used to cooking for three.

Something thudded against my back door.

“Let me in!” Bo’s hands were likely too full to ring the doorbell, which was just as well since it tended to send Coal into a frenzy.

“Coming!” I shot a look at Coal, who continued to feign indifference by focusing on a ladybug crawling on the wall. I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Stay,” I commanded, although he was well-trained enough that he didn’t even need me to say it. He already knew it was Bo, and that no matter how big and intimidating my brother looked, he was not to bark at him.

Coal instinctively got a fact some people failed to pick up on—you cross my brother, you cross me. And my loyal dog would rather roll over and die than to cross me. “

-copyright Heather Day Gilbert 2020

Pawsome excerpt. There are Thanksgiving scenes in my author’s first book, A Stone’s Throw and our latest mystery, No Gravestone Unturned. I’m in both books, but I don’t play a role in those scenes.

What do you like most about your role in your authors’ books?

I’m a support to my owner, Macy. She was divorced last year and she lost her great aunt who had raised her, as well. So she really needed me around.

It’s always good to support your main character. I support Alicia when she comes into danger by investigating murders in Cobble Cove.

Are you a talking dog in your books or just a silent one like I am who just meows occasionally?

I’m a silent dog (except when I yowl to ‘talk’)—this series contains no magical elements.

I used to be silent except for emitting normal cat sounds and still am to my characters co-stars, but readers can now read my thoughts since the 4th book of the series. I think it adds to the fun.

What advice would you give other dog characters?

Just be yourself! Also, protect your human.

Great advice.

Do you have any new books coming out? Please give dates and details.

The fourth book in the Barks & Beans Cafe series, Spilled Milk, is already up for preorder on Amazon here: Everyone says I look adorable on this cover, so check it out!

You look terrific. I’ve only been on one cover in my series, Written in Stone, but there have been other cats on Love on the Rocks (Kittykai who joined the series in that book) and No Gravestone Unturned (Salem the black cat who was a guest in our latest mystery).

Are you and/or your author on social media? If so, please list your links.

You can find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at

I’m sure our readers will check those out. Thanks for the doggone good interview, Coal, and best tail wags to you and your author on your new release and upcoming books in the series. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway below.

Fair Trade (Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery)
by Heather Day Gilbert

About Fair Trade

Fair Trade (Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Publisher: WoodHaven Press (October 27, 2020)
Number of Pages: ~215

Welcome to the Barks & Beans Cafe, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java…and where murder sometimes pays a visit.

With the one-year anniversary of the now-successful Barks & Beans Cafe approaching, siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield set up an iced coffee booth at the state fair. Taking a break from brewing, Macy bumps into Carolina, a long-lost childhood friend who’s now sitting pretty as a country superstar. Macy tries not to fangirl too hard when her old friend extends an invitation to meet the rest of the Carolina Crush band before their opening show.

But when Carolina falls victim to not one, but two near-death experiences, Macy takes it upon herself to find out who has it in for her old friend. Fortified with plenty of roasted corn, cinnamon rolls, and her brother’s signature iced maple latte, Macy takes to the Ferris wheel to get the lay of the land from the air. She discovers too late that this year’s fair isn’t all fun and games…but she’s already locked in for the ride.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown…with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.

The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series in order:
Book 1: No Filter
Book 2: Iced Over
Book 3: Fair Trade

About Heather Day Gilbert

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, enjoys writing contemporary mysteries set in her home state of West Virginia. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect what they love.

You can find all her books at

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Sneaky Interviews Rasputin, the Python from Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass, An Exotic Pet Sitter Mystery, by Heather Day Gilbert

Sneaky here with one of my strangest interviews yet. Today, I’m speaking with a snake whose current book, Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass, is on tour with Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book.

Hiss there. I mean hello, there, Mr. Snake. What is your name and your author’s name?

My name is Rasputin and my author’s name is Heather Day Gilbert. I’m a ball python.

Oh, gosh. I like balls with catnip, but I’m a little intimidated by you, Rasputin, although I am curious about your books.

What book(s) have you appeared in? Please list them and their genre.

I’m featured in the first Exotic Pet-Sitter series mystery, Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass. I’ve been told that even people who hate snakes come to like me in that book.

I wonder if that would work with cats. Please tell us about your series.

The Exotic Pet-Sitter series features amateur sleuth Belinda Blake. She lives in the wealthy town of Greenwich, Connecticut, although she frequently makes trips to her parents’ in Upstate New York (I went there with her once!). I hear she’s going to sit some other exotic pets…Book 2 features a wolf preserve, and Book 3 features homing pigeons!

Oh, my gosh. It would be a challenge interviewing those pets, but I’m up to it if they’re interested.

Back to you. Are you based on a real pet such as your author’s? If so, please give further details.

My author doesn’t have a ball python. She actually didn’t like snakes at all (can you believe that!?), until she researched this book. After watching some YouTube videos of ball python owners, she feels she would be comfortable touching a ball python now. We are a very mild breed, you know. 😉

Hmmm. Your author must be pretty brave. My author works with a librarian who has a pet snake. Maybe you’re right about them being mild. I guess all pets can’t be as purrfect as cats.

Can you share an excerpt from one of your books that features you in an important scene? If so, please include it.

Sure, here you go…I was feeling a little rambunctious that day, though...

“The first time I saw Stone Carrington the fifth, I had a snake wrapped

around my neck.

 Now granted, he acted as if it was something he saw every day, a girl

with unwanted snakeskin accents in her curly blonde hair.

 “Pet-sitting,” I explained, trying to extricate myself from the ball python

I had agreed to “walk” for his owner. “They’re supposedly a relatively

mild breed,” I continued.

 “I should hope so.” He dipped his tennis visor in a fake bow. Unfortunately,

he had emerged from the tennis courts at the exact moment the snake had

started climbing me like a tree. “Stone Carrington. And you are?”

 “Belinda Blake.” I felt the need to over-explain, one of my persistent

habits. “I’m your new tenant. In the carriage house. It’s lovely, by the

way.” The snake had stopped wriggling, so I walked a bit faster toward

my small house. Why had I chosen to walk up the main drive for another

gape at the Carringtons’ mansion?

 Stone gave me a once-over as the snake moved again. I was sure my

ripped jeans, worn Crocs, and gamer T-shirt didn’t impress, but I was

yanked from my self-conscious musings as the python slithered over my

shoulder and disappeared down my shirt. I launched into the dance of

death, jerking about like Elaine from Seinfeld.

“Here, let me help,” Stone said, making an arguably decent attempt to

extricate the wriggling creature from my shirt by wrapping both hands

around its tail.

The snake gave a low hiss and slid down further.”

~ copyright 2019, Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

Thanks for sharing that excerpt. It certainly wraps itself around you.

What do you like most about your role in your authors’ books?

I like that Belinda came to like me, and now she visits me in Manhattan just to bring me treats. I love my owner, Reginald, but Belinda is now a close second. She takes time to get to know how exotic pets tick.

Quite a gal, I’d say. I don’t think Alicia would be that daring, but she has solved a few murders, so maybe she might be. I’m not sharing the limelight with any snakes, though. Cats and dogs are one thing, but a snake is a horse of a different color.

Are you a talking pet in your books or just a silent one like I am who just meows occasionally?

Well, I’m not a cat so I don’t meow, and if you opened my cage right now, you might not like me so much… And yes, I do stay silent in my book.

MOL (Meow Out Loud). Stay in your cage, please, Rasputin. I’m sorry, but I’m not big on snakes. I hope you understand.

I’m not too keen on cats either, since they’re warm-blooded. Although I’m guessing you would enjoy my heat mat, so we have that in common. Oh yes, and we both know how to savor a good mouse snack.

Good points. Do you have any new books coming out? Please give dates and details.

Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass just released this month, then the second-in-series book, Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, releases in October 2019. The final book, Belinda Blake and the Birds of a Feather, will release in February 2020. All are from Kensington Books (Lyrical Press).

Pawsome! Thanks for the interview. I’ve gotten to learn some interesting things about snakes and am sharing your author’s blog tour. Best of luck with your book.

Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass
(An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery)
by Heather Day Gilbert

About the Book

Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass (An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Lyrical Underground (June 25, 2019)
Paperback: 192 pages
ISBN-10: 1516108841
ISBN-13: 978-1516108848
Digital ASIN: B07HVYQ9XZ

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden—and a knack for solving murders . . .

Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom—just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge—attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life . . .

About the Author

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers. Find out more on

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