Thursday, February 17, 2011
Cats and Dogs and Things that Go Thump in the Morning : : Anne McAllister
Things that go thump in the morning are rabbits. I know. We had one who banged the lid of her cage over and over every morning to get us up.
When I wrote my second book, Starstruck, many moons ago, it was about a divorced mom with five kids, a slightly charred casserole, and a rabbit in the back of her van.
The cover copy called the rabbit "hyperactive." I think that was a bit of an overstatement. She didn't bang anything, after all. But the rabbit, hyperactive or not, was something of a hook. People bought the book.
It could have had to do with the five kids or the casserole or the heartthrob who came to dinner and ate his peas. But over the years, I've come to believe the sales might have been for the rabbit.
I'm surprised my daughter, whose rabbit she was, didn't lobby for a cut of the royalties. But they helped put her through college, so maybe that's enough.
I love having animals in books. Animals make people human.
I like animals. I think most of my readers like animals. And sometimes my heroine or hero needs someone to talk to who won't argue with them or kick them in the shins. Animals also give heroes and heroines a chance to show that they are pretty good people. So they get animals in their lives. It makes things better all the way around.
Though one of my editors thought perhaps that Neely had a few too many in her houseboat menagerie in Savas' Defiant Mistress.
I didn't think think so. They showed Neely's character. Harm the bloodhound moved the story along -- and the hero right into Lake Union. And in the end a bowl of fish were exactly what Sebastian needed to take the first steps on his road to being the man he wanted to be.
It's true what they say, any hero has to be at least as good a man as his dog (cat, rabbit, goat, fish, salamander, guinea pig) thinks he is.
Just ask Gunnar -- the flatcoat retriever hero of my most recent Harlequin Presents, Hired by Her Husband. He makes my sexy physicist George Savas human. He makes my heroine realize that there is a person who cares inside George's handsome body -- that he's more than just a man who is smart and who fulfills his family responsibilities.
Other animals I've known and loved have made it into books as well. Quite a while back I wrote about Goliath, our Maine Coon cat, too. He appeared, wandering among the mixing bowls in MacKenzie's Baby, and being danced around the kitchen by Annabel before Carter showed up to spin her life out of control. But then, her goat spun his life out of control as well.
Animals are like that.
I've mentioned Kate Walker's cat, Sid, before. Sid is a hero in his own right -- A Cat of Superior Breeding (no one dares ask what sort). He has such charisma I have to be careful or he will take over entire books.
Another friend, Ange's, cat called Sparks had a part in one book, One son's dog, Belle, was Hugh MacGillivray's sidekick in In MacGillivray's Bed, and another's Newfie cross, Roy, just had a part in my next.
In that one, I needed A Suitable Cat and several of you offered your nearest and dearest animals to me. Pat Cochran's cat Gerald got the part. He came to live with my heroine, Edie, and the Newfie, Roy. Gerald didn't have a big part, but he made Edie's life richer, and I was glad to have him there.
Just now thinking back, I was amazed at the dogs and cats and other animals who have made it into my books. There was one friend's whistling guinea pig, another's Irish wolfhound, a third's mynah bird (how could I have forgotten Boris?). There was MacKenzie's goat and Jethro and Sara, the Maine Coons who could Call Up The Wind, Ted, the french bulldog, in The Santorini Bride, and a whole last will and testament of animals in Fletcher's Baby!
Mac is my friend Nancy's new dog. He is a rescue -- a cocker/poodle mix -- who was seriously neglected for the first few years of his life. Mac isn't sure if he has died and gone to heaven or if he is in heaven here on earth since he has come to live with Nancy.
Suffice to say, he is a happy dog. He is also an assertive dog who Makes Demands. Mac finds bags of dog biscuits and carries them around in his mouth, expecting Nancy to open the bag and give him them.
He takes his ball and drops it next to Bart the cat and expects Bart to throw it for him and barks when Bart goes right on sleeping. I never said he was smart. I just said he was assertive.
He's got Nancy wrapped around his paw and he has made friends with Mitch and Micah, the dogs at my house. And he knows how to charm me out of tiny dog treats just by sitting and thumping his poor excuse for a tail.
I adore Mac. I can hardly wait for a book in which he can feature. He has Ideas for that. The other day he told me he would like a heroine who is a butcher who works from home.
See what I mean?
Do you have any new animals in your life? Rescued ones? I'd love to hear more. Please tell us about the ones who have made your lives a happier place.