March 4, 2012

Author Q&A: Tail spinner

David Rosenfelt wanted a new job in a different place, and found both in Maine, where he writes books in the company of his wife and their 28 rescued dogs.

By TOM ATWELL / Special to the Maine Sunday Telegram

Mystery and thriller novelist David Rosenfelt recently moved to Damariscotta with 27 large dogs. While in Maine, he has added a 28th dog.

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"Heart of a Killer" is Maine author David Rosenfelt's latest mystery novel, and the fourth of his stand-alone books.

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David Rosenfelt and one of his 28 rescued dogs.

Courtesy photo

Rosenfelt's career as a writer has been varied, and he admits to being fortunate – although a talent for humor and writing has helped. He was president of marketing for TriStar Pictures, then wrote some movie and television scripts.

While he had some time to kill, he wrote 50 pages of a novel, which his wife liked. So he finished the book and got it published.

Rosenfelt has since written a series of nine books featuring wise-cracking lawyer Andy Carpenter. "Heart of a Killer" (Minotaur Books, 298 pages, $24.99) is the fourth of his stand-alone books, which Rosenfelt tries to keep more serious than his Andy Carpenter books.

"Heart of a Killer" features a lawyer who is given a pro-bono assignment to help a convicted killer. The convict wants to die so she can provide a heart for her 14-year-old daughter, who will die without a transplant. That case gets the lawyer involved in a terrorist's plot, and the action cascades along from there.

Rosenfelt and his wife also created the Tara Foundation, which has rescued more than 4,000 dogs from shelters. 

Q: How did you end up in Maine?

A: We bought a house about four years ago. We are from back East originally, but lived in southern California, and we wanted to move. We were sick of the weather and everything. We first considered the Northwest or Northeast, but we have grown kids and a grandson in New York City, so it made sense to come here.

Our son went to school with someone from Damariscotta, and we visited and fell in love with the place, and we live on Damariscotta Lake.

We are so excited to have a real winter, only we really haven't had one this year. We are the only people I know who are rooting for cold and snow. 

Q: Tell me about the move.

A: We moved 27 dogs here. We had actually literally thought about it for four years: How to do this move. We have only old or sick dogs that nobody really wants, so we couldn't fly them. We got 11 people from all over the country, some of whom I didn't even know – they were just readers of mine. We rented three RVs and drove across the country – it took five days.

I am actually writing a book about dog rescues, and the move is going to be a big part of it.

 Q: How did you get involved in dog rescue?

A: When I met my wife she had this golden retriever, Tara, and when she died my wife couldn't get another dog right away, so we started volunteering for an animal shelter. Animal shelters in southern California are terrible, with dogs being put down all the time. So we started a rescue foundation that has rescued 4,000 dogs, and when one was old or blind that no one wanted, we would take it. So we got two and that became 12, and when you have 23, what difference does one more make?

So we are absolutely insane and out of control. We just rescued our first Maine dog.

Q: Do you feel like the little old lady in all the cartoons with a house full of cats?

A: Yeah. We were watching a commercial a while back for some cleaning product, and this woman was saying she really needed the product because she had six dogs, as if you have to be absolutely insane to have six dogs. At that time, we had five dogs in the bed with us.

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