Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We'll make great pets...

by Chris F. Holm

Look: I love animals. I've been collecting strays my whole life, most of 'em cursed with names that tipped my burgeoning nerd hand. Had a Siberian Husky named Sherlock. A duck named Howard. A golden-eyed cat named Data. A calico named Gizmo. A fish I called Diogenes. (My wife often gets credit for that one; she named hers Batman, and literally no one believed me when I told them who named whom.) My current feline companion is Binkley, after the anxiety-closet-having Bloom County character. But poor Sam Thornton, protagonist of my Collector series, is sadly petless.

Why? Well, for one, he's dead, and therefore non-corporeal; he plies his trade - collecting the souls of the damned and delivering them to hell - by possessing the bodies of the far more recently deceased than he, and occasionally the living. That means globe-trotting is a cinch - he can hop a meat-suit halfway across the globe just as easily as you or I would hop a cab. But it also means he's got no home to speak of, and little control over his day-to-day schedule - which means regular feeding, watering, and walking of a living, breathing animal isn't really in the cards.

And then there's the small matter of his handler. See, Sam's gig collecting souls is his eternal punishment for his sins in life, and the person responsible for administering said punishment is his handler, Lilith. Lilith, for those of you without a preoccupation with apocryphal texts, is, according to many, the first woman in Creation, predating Eve. She was tossed out of Eden for her refusal to be subservient to Adam, as well as for her voracious sexual appetites. She's the essence of seduction, of lust, of sin; in short, she's the archetypical femme fatale. She's also got a lovely, if defunct, music festival named after her. But her ties to '90s chick-rock aside, she's also the boss of Sam: handing down assignments and disciplining him when he steps out of line. She keeps him on a pretty short leash, and often toys with him for her own amusement. So I guess what I'm saying is, Sam doesn't have a pet because he is one, and pets don't have pets. (Though I did once have a cat who carried around - and groomed - a small stuffed bulldog, thinking it her own. And come to think of it, in DEAD HARVEST, Sam gets awfully attached to a ceramic cat he finds. But that doesn't end well for said ceramic cat. Oh, no: I've said too much, thereby making that the weirdest spoiler ever.)

Confidential to any CM readers in the greater Albany, NY area I haven't scared away with my inane pet-based ramblings: I'll be appearing at Flights of Fantasy on Sunday, 6/10 at 2PM, and I'd love to see y'all there. As an added bonus, Flights of Fantasy is giving away two copies of DEAD HARVEST! All you have to do is shoot them an email ahead of time. Click through for details.


Meredith Cole said...

Giving your protagonist a pet is pretty complicated, Chris--you're probably right to stay away from it. Before long, your readers are asking when your main character is going to go home and walk the dog and start behaving like a responsible pet owner... which might be challenging for a dead guy.

Chris said...

Meredith, that's hilarious -- but of course they would. Folks take their pets, fictional or otherwise, mighty seriously. (I should know: pet owners pay my bills. My day job's in animal health.)

Hilary Davidson said...

I cannot tell you how much I love the idea of Sam Thornton as Lilith's pet! Having enjoyed their interactions in dead harvest, I'm looking forward to watching her toy with him again in THE WRONG GOODBYE.

Chris said...

Thanks, Hilary!