Sunday's for the Birds: Welcome Birder/Murder Mystery Writer Jan Dunlap

Discovering Jan Dunlap was like killing two birds with one stone. No, forgive me. I didn't really say that. Seriously, two of my passions are birds and mysteries, and Jan has wrapped them both in an exciting package: her Bob White Birder Murder mysteries. Today, Jan tells us about how her passion for birds led to the creation of this exciting mystery series that takes place in the wilds of Minnesota.

As the author of the Bob White Birder Murder mysteries, I hear a lot of bird stories from my readers. But my favorite bird story is my own, which, as it happens, also explains where I got the kernel of the idea that led to my series.
Almost 24 years ago, my husband and I were living just outside Minneapolis when we took our four small children on a drive to Wabasha, Minnesota. It was January and frigid, and I told my husband if we didn’t get out of the house with the kids, I was going to lock myself in a closet and not come out till June. I suggested we make the two-hour drive to Wabasha, the little town on the edge of Lake Pepin, which is where bald eagles congregate in the winter to fish in the open water. I’d always loved watching birds, and I figured that eagles would be big enough for our little ones to easily see.
Plus, they would be strapped into carseats and selt belts for a total of four hours, and I was hoping I might be able to regain my sanity in that time. (Wishful thinking, I know – I was still young and foolish back then.)
But the eagles did not disappoint me or my children. We parked at a pull-out above the lake and got out of the car. More than thirty eagles soared in the sky or dove for fish or perched in the trees not far from our vantage point. While we watched, two swept right over us, so close we could clearly see their strong yellow beaks and blinding white heads and tails. I was breathless with delight, and my son Bob found his calling in life…at the age of four. Today, he’s an expert birder, a professional naturalist, and the inspiration for my fictional protagonist…thanks to a little cabin fever and really big eagles!

Jan Dunlap is the Minnesota author of the Birder Murders, a laugh-out-loud mystery series following the adventures of high school counselor/expert birder Bob White, who has a bad habit of finding bodies while he birds. Hailed as "everything a cozy mystery should be," on, Jan's novels mix birding, environmental issues, witty dialogue and characters so real, you'll want to invite them to dinner! Jan’s favorite things are the great outdoors, her five kids, and frozen custard, though not necessarily in that order. The fifth book in the series, “A Murder of Crows,” will be released in September 2012. Jan welcomes visitors to her website at