Friday, September 18, 2015

All Dogs (and Cats) Go To Heaven. Hope there’s room for me too…

Have you ever killed an animal in your stories? Would you?

by Paul D. Marks

Well, if you answer yes to the first question, the answer to the second is ipso facto yes too.
My answer is yes.

I understand what Susan said earlier in the week about the cardinal rule of not killing animals in crime fiction stories. And what RJ said in one of the comments, adding children to that. Also movieposterhow agents, fans and readers will come down on you for killing an animal. It’s one of those unwritten rules. SPOILER ALERT: But my novel White Heat (which has been out long enough that I’m okay with giving it away here) is a very tough noir-thriller and in the parameters of that genre I think it works. At least I think it worked in that story. Still, if I recall correctly, when I was writing White Heat I debated a long time as to whether or not to make that happen. But ultimately it’s what I thought the story called for, so it went in. That book has a bunch of controversial elements. And deals with a lot of sensitive issues, of which that is a small part.

I did hear from people about it. It upset them, but not in a way to make them not like the book or not want to read other things from me. It just upset them the way the death of any innocent would, but they still liked the book. Whether people I didn’t hear from had an issue with it, I can’t say, of course.

Marley & Me D1That said, it’s hard for me to read or think about killing an animal. We have a contingent of four animals at most times, two dogs and two cats. Though, unfortunately, they’re not always the same four. So we are definitely animal people. I’ve seen enough death in my life, both human and animal, that at this point when we’ve had to put animals to sleep I won’t be in the room. And when our vet wanted to put Curley, one of our cats, to sleep, I said no. And here, almost two years later, he’s still going strong, and will hopefully continue to do so.

I also love the movies Old Yeller, My Dog Skip and Marley & Me...but so far I can’t bring myself to watch them again, though I’m sure I will. I still can’t read The Art of Racing in the Rain.

MyDogSkip
But none of that stopped me from “killing” a dog in White Heat – because that’s what the plot required. Like Robin said it shouldn’t be gratuitous. And I do have limits. As I mentioned in a previous post, in the distant past I wouldn’t do things that I thought would give terrorists ideas. But they seem to have plenty of their own and I doubt anything I could come up with would be something they haven’t already thought of. I also wouldn’t want to be very specific about building a bomb or some such. Sure that info’s out there on the web, but I don’t want to be the one to tell someone how to do it.

Will I kill another animal in a story? If the plot calls for it, I guess I will. But I won’t enjoy doing it. And here’s to you, Baron – the real Baron, one of the greatest dogs that ever lived! See you, buddy—hopefully not too soon.

The Real Baron -- Paul D Marks

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WhiteHeat_PaulDMarks-Amazon Author
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8 comments:

RJ Harlick said...

Good post, Paul. And although I say I wouldn't kill a pet in my books I can always change my mind and if the plot calls for it, I would, like you did in your book.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, RJ. It wasn't easy, believe me. But as I believe Tim Hallinan said the other day, why is it okay for us to kill people in our books, but not animals? I think because animals are innocent.

Sharliebel said...

Always enjoy your Friday posts, Paul D. Marks. Do understand your leaving the room when your 'friend' has to be put-down. Have been there - done that!

Charlotte M. Liebel
@Sharliebel

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Charlotte! And I'm sorry for your loss/es when you've had to deal with that too. It's never easy.

Barb Goffman said...

I have a published story with a murdered goat, which was the event around which the story evolved. But I didn't kill the goat on the page. It was already dead when the story began. I think that somehow makes a difference.

I also have an unpublished story (so far) with dog-jep. I know it might upset some readers, but it's essential to the tale. I hope, when the story does get published, that readers will read the story through to the end (and not stop reading me!).

lisaljohnljc said...

Like the real Baron. Looks like he was terrific!
And hey, it's all in the name of good fiction, right?

Can't argue with that!
But real glad "the weasel" who did it winds up going off a cliff!
Hooray, for that!

Paul D. Marks said...

I think you're probably right about it making a difference that the deed was done before the story began.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Lisa. And yes, it's all in the name of (hopefully) good fiction and realistic fiction too.