Monday, December 11, 2017

People and Pets in Books

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that while pets sometimes have roles in my books, they don't think for themselves the way pets do in some books.

Then I got to thinking about it. I'm not about to have a gerbil solve a mystery, but in my own life I ascribe feelings to my cats. They can communicate with me. I have been trained to know that when they look at a doorknob I am to open it. When Phoebe puts a paw on the bag of food I'm to feed her.
Stella and Phoebe

My true affinity is for black cats. Stella often sits within a foot of me when I write and (I hate to admit this) when I roll over in bed she may be at my head. She waits until I'm asleep to select her spot.

To experiment with writing from a cat's perspective, I created Mildred Mistletoe. Born under the family Christmas tree, she is very protective of high school twins Fergie and Freddie. And she needs to get some things fixed before Christmas.

I found it challenging to have a character who could not speak. Suddenly a flood of pet memories jumped into my head. My sister's cat swatting my dad as he walked by if the food bowl was empty (or perhaps just on principle), my former black cat Magic jumping into a bag of fireplace soot just to see what was in there, a neighbor's cat (Chowder) jumping on my kitchen counter to drink from the sink. All of these animals communicated very well.

Mildred Mistletoe finds ways to point things out to her humans, and they have no idea they are being led around by the tail, so to speak. I don't think I'll create crime-solving characters in my mysteries, but Mildred will appear in some additional short stories. She came into my head fully formed, so it's not likely she will leave.
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  1. Looking forward to reading about Mildred Mistletoe. I do like animals in books.

  2. Partial to black cats, myself. :-)

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