Dusty Rainbolt knew she wanted to write about The Fantastic since she was a nine-year-old geek sitting in Mrs. Fleir’s third grade class. In an assignment reminiscent of the “What I Want for Christmas” theme from the movie A Christmas Story, Mrs. Fleir instructed her class to write a short story.
When all the other kids were devising schemes to self-inflict hand injuries or attempt to launch their penny pencils as far north as Saskatchewan, Dusty took another approach. She set her imagination free and introduced her readers to two children who befriended an amiable alien. Sound familiar?
While Dusty has never received compensation from Steven Spielberg for stealing her idea, that short story unleashed her desire to take people to her own fictional worlds and provide them with a fright, or even a laugh or two.
Her latest novel, Death Under the Crescent Moon, was inspired by the numerous trips she and her husband took to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. While staying at the haunted Crescent Hotel, she learned about Norman Baker, an eccentric tycoon, who in 1936 transformed their favorite hotel into a cancer hospital. Legends about Baker and his alleged atrocities circulated and the investigative reporter in Dusty was determined to separate truth from myth. She spent years (and a boatload of money according to husband Weems) researching Baker, his cancer cure and his trial.
During the Baker years the third floor annex had served as the hospital’s hospice ward. It had housed patients in their last days when even high doses of morphine ceased to relieve pain. These sad patients often had to endure lingering and agonizing deaths. This offset hospital wing kept the moans and cries of the dying from bothering other patients.
On a February, 2000 trip to the Crescent, Dusty and Weems discovered that the cavernous annex area had been completely gutted for renovation. During their videotape session inside the annex Dusty asked, “Why are you still here?” While nothing appeared to happen at the time, the couple was shocked when they later played the tape back and heard a terrifying male voice whisper, “I want you.”
A few days later, Weems, bored at work, emailed Dusty. “Here’s the plot of your next book.” The email contained a one-page synopsis that was so compelling Dusty immediately booked a flight to Muscatine, Iowa, Norman Baker’s home town and the site of his two original hospitals. After more than a decade, Death Under the Crescent Moon was released at the science fiction convention ConDFW in mid-February 2013.
Dusty also edited the recently released Sky Warrior Book Publishing anthology, The Mystical Cat. This flash fiction collection contains works from authors as far away as New Zealand. The book includes Dusty’s humorous tribute to the 1950s giant animal horror movies, “A Spoiled Rotten Cat Lives Here”.
Dusty and Weems’ frequent visits to the “haunted” Crescent Hotel had piqued their interest in the paranormal. Long before the premiere of SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters, Dusty and Weems began investigating haunted locations. They soon discovered that if they remained analytical 100 out of 101 hauntings could be explained by unstable foundations, creaky wood, glass reflections, bad photography or vivid imaginations. However, what to do with those one unexplainable event?
Dusty and Weems quickly earned a reputation for being objective and rational. They are widely known for their November, 2000 investigation of the Baker Hotel (no relationship to the Eureka Springs Baker Hospital) in Mineral Wells, Texas. Their detailed reports, as well as accompanying videos and photographs documented out-of-the-ordinary occurrences on multiple Mineral Wells investigations.
Her distinction as an unbiased investigator brought Dusty to the attention of The Lyons Press (an imprint of Globe Pequot). The publisher approached the cat-loving ghost hunter about documenting accounts of people who had experienced cat ghosts. After interviewing more than 75 families and businesses, Dusty wrote Ghost Cats: Human Encounters with Feline Spirits. Ghost Cats won the Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion™ for Excellence (the CWA version of the Pulitzer Prize) for Best Book Covering Other Topics.
Since that long ago day in a San Antonio classroom, Dusty’s quirky imagination and sense of humor has catapulted her readers across the galaxy with a stranded telephone company engineer in the Muse-nominee All the Marbles (Yard Dog Press). She has also plummeted her fans down to the hilarious depths of Hell (along with coauthors Linda Donahue, Rhonda Eudaly and Julia S. Mandala) in the Four Redheads of the ApocalypseSeries (Yard Dog Press.)
In her other life, Dusty is the vice president of the Cat Writers’ Association, and an associate certified cat behavior consultant and member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She and her husband share their unhaunted home with their living, breathing cats and Abby, a terrier/Chinese Crested-mix. Involved in kitten rescue for more years than she’d like to recall, she and Weems have fostered and rehomed over 1000 homeless cats and kittens. (Do not call and ask her to take your cat. She won’t.)
Besides her entertaining fiction, Dusty is famous for her articles, columns and books on cat care and behavior and animal rescue. She’s editor-in-chief of AdoptAShelter.com (a shop-to-donate website benefiting animal charities.) Her popular monthly feline advice column has been honored with numerous CWA awards. She’s also the author of Cat Wrangling Made Easy: How to Maintain Peace and Sanity in Your Multicat Home(The Lyons Press) and Kittens For Dummies (yes, it’s one of the famous Dummies series.)
Back in the 80s and 90s, when she thought she was Bob Woodward, Dusty wrote mainstream articles for numerous newspapers covering everything from the launch of the space shuttle Discovery to travel articles as well as local politics and features.
Over the course of her career Dusty has been honored with 52 cat writing awards.