Interview with Valerie Tate   Leave a comment

This week’s interview is with Valerie Tate, author of the Dunbarton Mysteries.


Tell me something about yourself , Valerie

I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario where I went to Victoria College at the University of Toronto. I did a degree in English Lit and then my teaching degree. An avid reader, I started writing in my early teens. After having had a short story published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine I decided to try my hand at longer pieces. I wrote one novel (which sits in a drawer somewhere) and then began another. Teaching and horses took up much of my time, though, and while I wrote some children’s stories in both English and French, it wasn’t until after I retired from full-time teaching that I decided to finish that novel I’d begun many years before and look for a publisher.

I recently bought a heritage house in Thornhill, just north of Toronto. I have a horse named Devon and a Jack Russell puppy.


When did you start writing?

The first story I wrote just for myself (not a school assignment) was when I was 12 years old. It was about a ghost pirate ship. I continued to write short stories until I tried my hand at a novel in university.


What is your favorite genre — reading or writing?

While I have read just about every genre at one time or another, my preferred genre to read and write is mystery.


Catnip and Horse Sense are mysteries. There’s an iconic house described and a cat with a personality equal to my husky’s. Any correlation to the “real” world?

Dunbarton, the town in Catnip and the name of the series, is based on the lovely, lakeside town of Kincardine, Ontario. We had family living there when I was growing up and so I have spent a lot of time there. We still go up every summer for a couple of weeks. Dunbar House is based on a couple of Victorian era mansions in the town, one of which was a bed and breakfast for a few years and so I was able to stay in it. The descriptions of the interior of the house are based on that.

I have never had cats, but my sister and her family had two – Bob and Simon – and their youthful misdemeanors are reflected in Marmalade’s antics.


Horse Sense is set in the world of dressage and horse breeding. How did that come about?

Horses have been my passion since I was a child. Like Alicia, I read all of the classic horse novels and dreamed of one day having a horse of my own. Once I was working, I started taking riding lessons and then bought Equatra, a lovely bay Thoroughbred. A few years later, I bred her and Gem (aka Legendary Magic) was born. I raised and rode him for many years. I lost him in 2013. My mom and I bought my nephew a pony for his eighth birthday and we had Copper Penny for thirteen years. I bought Devon as a yearling.

While I started out in Hunter, Dressage became my sport. It is beautiful when done well, rather like ballet on horseback. I showed only at the lower levels but have had coaches who rode at the advanced levels and one who went to the Olympics and World Equestrian Games.


How do you go about developing a mystery?

Usually I get an idea either from a location or sometimes from something I’ve heard on the news. From that themes develop. All of the Dunbarton Mysteries have an animal abuse/rescue or environmental theme. After that it’s a matter of creating characters, developing interpersonal issues that lead to crimes and murder. Who did what to whom? The trick is revealing just enough for the reader to have the necessary clues but not so much that it is too easy to discern ‘Who done it?’.


What are your plans for this series? Will there be more stories along the same line?

I’m currently working on a new book, Frog Legs. It is set at a Dunbarton golf resort and when there is a murder the only witnesses have – frog legs.


That sounds really fun — a refreshing take on the mystery genre. How do we find your books?

My wesbsite is

Both books are available on and .ca as well as the Apple Istore and Kobo.

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