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!
There is a new guy on the block now whom I can see taking over the next time my heroine needs a dog. His name is Mac.

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.


Dina said...

I have always had a dog, mt current friend has been wit me a long time and has helped me get through extremely tough times. All of my pet were me best friends too.

bjs said...
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Anne McAllister said...

Dina, I'm with you. Having best friends who are always there for you is so wonderful. They always make me smile -- and right now one of them is keeping my feet warm!

Estella said...

All of my cats and dogs had passed away of old age. Our neighbor sold his house and moved away. He asked us to cat sit until he found a suitable place to live. That was seven months ago. I think the cat is ours now.

Kaelee said...

Every life should have nine cats. I am up to seven right now and I hope to live long enough for two more.
We have three who share out home and bed right now. All of our cats have been found or adopted from the humane society. Our last cat had been dropped off on my sister's farm. He was a 2.2 pound ball of orange fluff and scared up a fallen tree by the dogs on the farm. My husband got him out of the tree. He got deeply scratched in the process. We knew the little one wouldn't make it on the farm so we brought him home. His two older sisters were not impressed. He's grown into a 17 pound cuddle seeker. He live up to his name Dash, the incredible pest on a daily basis. We have never harmed him in any way shape or form but if either of us is carrying a plastic bag he flees under the nearest piece of furniture. We have come to the conclusion that he must have been tied up in a plastic bag and thrown out at my sister's farm.

Anne McAllister said...

Estella, yes, I believe that this cat you have been "taking care of" is now YOUR cat. I hope you enjoy him/her and you have many happy years together.

Anne McAllister said...

What a great notion -- that every life should have nine cats! I've had three so far. But I have had nine dogs. So maybe I'm one of those people who should have dogs instead of cats? What do you think?

We stopped having cats because two of our kids became very allergic to them. They do fine with dogs, so it seemed like a better idea to concentrate on dogs. But I do miss having a cat around.

Thanks for telling me about Dash. He sounds like someone who has, as my youngest would say, "really improved the quality of life" around your house!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Anne,

I'm so excited to hear that our
cat, Gerald, found his way into
one of your books! I'll have to
make sure that I get a copy of
today's blog to all our children.
They'll be glad to hear that our
kitty boy is in print now! I'm also going to get copies of the
book for each of them. Thanks so

Pat Cochran

Anne McAllister said...

Pat, Gerald doesn't have a speaking role! Your kids might blink and miss him. He had a bigger role before it got revised! You can tell him he ended up on the cutting room floor.

But I was very fond of him and he was a great 'guest cat.' Thank you for 'lending' him to me!

Nas said...

So cute photos! I love pets but from a distance! I've got two cats same as the one in the photo, orange striped ones.

Michele L. said... adorable! I love animals! My mom has owned many dogs. I just love them! They all had such cute personalities. Little Ralphie, who was a Shitzu, was my favorite. He was apricot colored and the most personable little fella! Everybody always thought he was a puppy! He got compliments everywhere he went. Sadly, little Ralphie has gone bye-bye. I sure miss him. All my moms pets have always had a place in my heart.

Anne McAllister said...

Nas, I love orange cats. I have never had one -- all of ours have been gray and white or brown and white. But I did cat-sit one once. He was a charmer!

Anne McAllister said...

Ralphie sounds wonderful. I'm sorry you don't have him anymore, but it seems you have LOTS of great memories. We have lots of great memories of our dear departed dogs and cats, too. I miss them every day.

desere_steenberg said...

These photos are just too cute ! I have so many animals in my house because I just cant live without them, I have a very small heart when it comes to animals and I will do anything I can to rescue them and help them !

Great post thanks !

Anne McAllister said...

Desere, It sounds like your animals are lucky to have you! Thanks for stopping by.

Mary Kirkland said...

Love the photos. I have had rescued rats, hamsters, gerbils and even a rabbit that I had to find a good home for. I kept all the other animals but I thought the rabbit needed a yard to run around in. Right now I have 4 rats that I adopted.

bjs said...
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Anne McAllister said...

Mary, You sound like a homeless animal's dream friend. Lucky for them that they found you or you found them. Best of luck with the rats. I have a friend who has had several and really enjoyed them.