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Book cover for Vampire...Tortoise?! with an illustrated desert tortoise with what appears to be blood dripping from its mouth.

What do you think of when you hear or read the word ‘vampire’? Does your mind go to the human Count Dracula, or perhaps it’s to bats? Members of the Desmodontinae bat subfamily feed on the blood of other animals. Consuming blood is called hematophagy. But not just bats are vampires. There are the candiru fish and the vampire finch, along with the usual female mosquitoes, ticks, bedbugs, lice, fleas, and leeches!

I bet the one animal that didn’t come to your mind was a tortoise! My books set in the Sonoran Desert are rhyming picture books featuring single animals or plants. Many readers requested a book that included many local animals and plants in a single story. When I was contemplating a storyline that would consist of many plants and animals, I observed this:

A desert tortoise munching on prickly pear fruit, it's mouth is died red from the fruit.

This is one of my desert tortoises, a Sulcata tortoise, eating the fruit of a prickly pear cactus, Centrochelys sulcata. As I watched the mess his consumption was making, I was inspired to write Vampire Tortoise. In my story, the tortoise is a Sonoran desert tortoise, Gopherus morafkai. My Sonoran tortoise enjoys prickly pear fruit as much as my sulcata. I incorporated many of the plants and animals I find in my xeriscape yard.

Tucson artist Anderson Atlas did the illustrations, realistically portraying the Sonoran desert animals and plants.

This book was published just before Halloween. Seems appropriate.

Lisa D. Smith interviewed me about this book. Fellow Tucson Sisters in Crime authors Eva Eldridge and Patrick Whitehurst joined me on this Big Blend Radio show. The episode aired on October 29, 2023, on the Big Blend Radio and Big Weekly Blend channels, but you can still listen to this Halloween-themed show.

All shows are on leading podcast platforms, including YouTube, Spotify, iHeartRadio, PodBean, Acast, Apple & Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, TuneIn, PodChaser, Audible, Amazon, Deezer, Pandora, and, ListenNotes, and more. 

Here are just some of the main links where the interview will be featured:

 – Main Big Blend Radio –

 – Big Weekly Blend Page and Playlist on our Site:

 – YouTube Channel –     

 – iHeart –

 – Spotify –  

 – Apple –   

 – Amazon –

 – Google Podcasts –

 – SoundCloud –

– PodBean:

 – Facebook:

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