Guest post: The Story behind 'When Bunnies Go Bad" by Clea Simon

It’s hard to remember now, as the crocuses bloom and green buds begin to swell on the trees, but 14 months ago, we thought winter would never end. In the winter of 2014-15, Massachusetts, where I live, was buried under record snowfall of 110.6 inches. And what was worse, all but two inches of this snow came in rapid succession in what the Weather Channel called a “six-week-plus snow siege.” [link:] What that means, to you non-New Englanders, is that not only did we get nine-plus feet of snow, but that none of it – as it usually would between storms – melted. Instead it piled up. And piled up. And piled up.

Now, where I live, in Somerville, is pretty urban. Our house is right on the sidewalk, which legally we are obligated to clear. That meant that after every storm, my husband or I would be out there, shoveling – piling the snow higher and higher along the walk, with only a small cut-through for the steps up to our tiny front porch. Before long, our house was walled in by snow, the shrubs in front mostly buried with only one ancient forsythia bush still sticking its branches out, largely because it is on the side of our front porch, behind the snow wall. Soon the city was like a maze – high walls of icy, compacted snow funneling us all along increasingly narrow paths. Errands became major expeditions. We all became accustomed to backing up to the nearest crosswalk to allow oncoming pedestrians to pass.  Carrying groceries home was crazy.

The snow didn’t only affect humans, however. As an animal lover, I’d done my research. I knew that the beasts around here usually do fine in this weather. Small critters, like mice, actually benefit, as they can burrow beneath the snow to the nearest bits of frozen grass or other greenery, out of sight of hungry hawks or other predators.

But how about the bunnies? How would they fare, given the immense amount of snow and the virtual walls of icy drifts that were cutting across the landscape? Where would they do their marketing, so to speak, with everything covered in a thick blanket of icy white?

I found out one night when the snow had briefly ceased. I was looking out my front window when I noticed a set of prints. Looking kind of like parallel semi-colons, they came up the steps from the sidewalk to our front porch, where they seemed to have looked around, exploring the planter that I never managed to put away and the small bench where UPS leaves packages. And then they hopped over to the side of the porch, behind the snow wall, and dropped off.

The local bunny was coming onto my front porch as a way around the wall of snow and hopping off the side to get to that forsythia!

Once I knew what was happening, I began a nightly ritual. Rabbits, I found out, are crepuscular – they like those twilight times when the light is low. And so soon after sunset, I’d start watching. I was rewarded by frequent sightings of our local bunny as he came cautiously up our steps and then turned right, to hop off by that forsythia. Sometimes I saw him nibbling on its branches. Other times, I only saw his footprints and droppings. And when spring finally arrived and I saw three rabbits in our yard, I knew Mr. Bunny, or Ms. Bunny, as I now believe her to be, had survived the winter in fine form. (The forsythia did, too.) And so when it was time to start another Pru Marlowe pet noir, there was little doubt in my mind. A smart resourceful rabbit had to be at the center of it – and is, in “When Bunnies Go Bad.”

Genre: Mystery
Author: Clea Simon        
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Purchase on Amazon

About the Book:

Winter is hard in Beauville, where the melting snow can reveal much more than last season’s dead leaves. So when a wealthy, obnoxious tourist and his ski bunny girlfriend surface in Pru Marlowe’s little Berkshire town, she knows she should stay out of their way. The bad-girl animal psychic has to focus on more immediate concerns, including a wild rabbit named Henry, supposedly tamed and illegally living with an eighty-four-year-old lady in her home. Henry, who seems to be acting out and hiding, avoids responding to Pru. Yet when Pru discovers the tourist murdered and his girlfriend’s high-maintenance spaniel falls to her care, she gets dragged into a complicated case of crime and punishment that involves some new friends, an old nemesis, and her own shadowed past. A recent museum art heist draws the feds into the investigation along with a courtly gentleman radiating menace, who represents secretive business interests in New York and shows a surprising awareness of Pru. Her on-again, off-again romance with police Detective Creighton doesn’t stop him from warning her to steer clear of the inquiry. The spaniel, however, lures her in. Pru lives in a world where only her crotchety tabby Wallis knows the whole truth about her past, her flight from Manhattan, and her unique gift that surfaced abruptly one day. Fearing the worst, Pru now comes dangerously close to being exposed. With everything in motion, Pru, Wallis, and everyone they hold dear will be lucky to escape…by a hare.

About the Author:

Clea Simon is the author of the Theda Krakow, Dulcie Schwartz, and Pru Marlowe pet noir series, as well as three nonfiction books.   A former journalist, Clea lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband, the writer Jon Garelick, and their cat Musetta.