Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pets and Working Dogs

Vicki here, on my new day of alternate Tuesdays.  Hope you all like the new daily lineup.

As I didn't get to answer last week's question about pets, I'm going to do both today.

What would I write if I couldn't write crime novels?  Long, lush, historical romances set in Venice in the 15th - 17th centuries.  Why, you may ask, don't I just go ahead and write such a book?  The answer is simple, because I don't know know much about the history of 15th - 17th century Venice. And it would take me too long to learn it well enough to write a realistic book.

And, because I like writing crime novels!

As for pets: Most of my books have dogs in them.  Not only because I like dogs and find them fascinating, but because a dog in a scene can help to give the scene action and momentum.  A group of people are sitting around a kitchen table talking? Stick a dog under the table, scratching and sniffing and twitching. Adds a bit of action and colour to what might be a boring scene of an exchange of information.

But you can’t just add a dog to have something living under the table, it does have to have a reason to be there.

In the Smith and Winters series, neither Molly Smith nor John Winters have any pets.  Molly’s a young single woman living in a small apartment with a job that requires her to be on shift 12 hours a day. No room in her life for a dog.   Similarly John Winters is a cop and his wife Eliza used to travel extensively for work so they couldn’t have a pet.  It is also implied that each is the centre of the other’s world so completely that they don’t need an animal.

Molly’s mother, Lucky, however has a dog. A sloppy shaggy Golden Retriever called Sylvester.  Lucky lives in a big place in the country; she’s a gregarious person with plenty of friends; she’s got a big heart and need to live surrounded by people.  Nothing more natural than that she should have a dog. I can’t recall even deciding to give Lucky a dog, it was a given.

Dogs of course can be more than pets. Because Molly Smith doesn’t have room for an animal in her life, I brought one in another way. Her boyfriend is the police dog handler.  The dog’s name is Norman.  As an added bonus, I’ve enjoyed learning about police dogs and how they live and work.  It's Norman on the cover of Among the Departed. 

An eager student

A Handsome Officer


Meredith Cole said...

Great to see you on your new day, Vicki!

Love the pictures of police dogs (especially the puppy). I have dogs in my next book (but no police dogs--yet) and it was fun to describe their unique personalities.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Great photos. I love putting animals in my books and have them in both the Odelia Grey and Granny Apples books. They even have their own fan base, especially Wainwright, the Golden in the Odelia books. Animals add warmth and fun and can humanize even the toughest sleuth.