Meet Mack—he’s big, handsome, dark-haired, with soulful eyes and a serious fast-food habit. He’s the canine hero of my second book (released last month) HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. With his injured knee and craving for a fur-ever home, he wins the heart of my heroine, doggy daycare owner Serena Oakley. PI hero Nick Whalen soon succumbs too, though he wasn’t looking for a dog like Mack or, indeed, a woman like Serena.
Like other authors, I’m often asked are my characters inspired by people I know. But I’m also asked are my doggy characters inspired by real, animals.
The answer is the same to both questions: while there is no one person or one dog behind the characters I create, there are elements of many of the people (and dogs) I have met over my lifetime. That’s the way writers are: it all goes into the brain, is seasoned by the imagination and comes out on the page scrambled and shaken to find life as a unique fictional character.
The kernel of Mack came from my friend Melinda’s dog Mate. Mate (left at top) is a large, friendly mixed breed dog who think he’s still a tiny puppy. Seeing this big animal trying to snuggle onto her lap is quite the laugh-out-loud sight! (I borrowed that sight for a scene with Serena.)
Mack grew further in my imagination after Melinda and I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Ashland, Oregon for the annual Shakespeare Festival. (We couldn’t get into any plays so saw the movie of Mumma Mia instead!) We also wandered the delightful shops that line the main street. There we encountered the most enormous black dog I have ever seen. This gentle giant was sweet natured and graciously allowed my friend and I to pet him. (Here’s a rather blurry photo of him.) But I noticed some of the other people in the store skirt around him, obviously nervous. That got me thinking further about a dog with a lot to give that maybe no-one wanted.
Soon Mack became as real to me as any of the human characters I create. And then he became a cover boy, along with Bessie a purse-sized Yorki-poo who is also an important character in the story.
Now back to my human characters and the hunky hero of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, Nick Whalen. For looks, think a young Daniel Craig (James Bond), with elements of Jason O’Mara (Sam on Life on Mars) and David Cubitt (Det. Lee Scanlon on Medium). As to Nick’s personality, I can see aspects of the special, heroic men in my life have snuck their way into Nick—but in the interests of marital stability, I’ve decided not to name names!
Do you know a dog (or cat, or any other animal) with a memorable personality?
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