People ask me why I wrote dogs as central characters in both my first book for Berkley Sensation LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD (available now) and my second, HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS (on sale July 6). The answer is simple, animals are such an important part of my life that they sneak into everything I write. I like reading stories with animals in them and so, it seems, do my readers.
In LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD, Brutus the millionaire mutt is a very greedy, naughty little dog who inherits a lot of money. He is as important a character as the hero and heroine, feisty chef Maddy and lawyer Tom O’Brien who are thrown together because of Brutus. In HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, the “cover” dogs Mack, a sad-eyed black mutt, and Bessie, a purse-sized Yorki-poo, play an important role in bringing together gorgeous dog nut Serena Oakley and hunky PI Nick Whalen. (Serena is Maddy’s best friend in the first book.) As Serena runs a doggy daycare, there are lots more dogs, too, quite the chorus of them in fact! (Serena has a cat, too...)
My doggy characters don’t talk. We don’t see inside their minds. They’re animals. Not people. But like the real animals I love, my fictional four-legged characters have distinct personalities with their own quirks and loveable qualities.
I had to be careful writing both LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, that the doggy characters didn’t overwhelm the developing romance between hero and heroine. The animal characters are the delightful extras. That said, the reactions of the humans to the animals—and vice versa—can give great insight into the human’s personality—I have a lot of fun writing those scenes! I couldn't fall in love with a man who wasn't kind to animals and I don't expect my heroines to, either...
How do I research my canine characters? My best research is a lifelong love of animals. I’ve had dogs and cats in my life since I was a small child. There was a parrot, rabbits and even a white mouse (not the best choice of pet to cohabit with cats…) My daughter has horses and I’ve learned to love them too. Then there are our two miniature Dexter bulls, Squirt and Thimble, who are nothing short of adorable! Thinking of animals as characters who have their own stories is second nature to me. On this page, I’m sharing with you some of the wonderful animals who share my life: Miss Molly (dog), Cindy (cat) and Banjo (pony).
In honor of my guest visit to Tote Bags ‘n‘ Blogs, I’m giving away a smart HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS tote bag with a signed copy of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD inside. Leave a comment here about an animal who is special in your life and I’ll pick a winner.