Monday, August 1, 2011
Pets in fiction by Karina Bliss
I had a first for Stand-In Wife, my August release and ninth book for Super – a pet with a story arc.
When my heroine, Viv, swaps identities with her twin, only two immediately spot the deception. Her sister’s baby and her dog - non-verbal characters who tap into the sensory clues that everyone else misses. And I got a kick out of the comic potential of a dog-loving heroine who simply cannot get this dog to like her because he knows she’s an imposter.
It was the most fun I’ve ever had doing research. First thing I had to do was choose my breed.
It seemed to me that any kind of doodle would be automatically guaranteed a personality. And maybe a little bit of something to prove. So I went online and discovered the divesity of doodles - goldendoodles, bassetdoodles, airedoodles, cadoodles, cavapoos, sih-poos and bich-poos. Wonderful names, rich in imaginative and comic possibilities.
But I needed a particular kind of dog for the story. My doodle had to be loving and loyal, intelligent but with a Sherlock Holmes ‘terrier’ quality that made him both protective and suspicious.
When I read this about a schnauzer-poodle cross on http://www.dogtime.com/, I knew I’d found my match.
“The Schnoodle is loyal like the Schnauzer and fun-loving like the Poodle. Like his Schnauzer parent, a Schnoodle has a protective nature and makes a good watch dog. Like his Poodle parent, he's smart and affectionate. He will bark, sometimes too much (a trait that should be nipped in the bud when he's young)....Schnauzers sometimes love one person more than the rest of the family and that trait can carry over to Schnoodles.”
The other good thing about schnoodles, for my story purpose, was that they came in all sizes, and colors which gave me the opportunity to follow my heart when I was scanning pictures searching for my dog.
There he is at the top of the page. Introducing Salsa.
In the book, a little girl had chosen his name so it needed a slightly feminine quality which of course disgusts him. In his own mind, Salsa is Bruiser, a rotweiler trapped in a small schnoodle body. But the name also resonated with me because it suggested his personality - feisty and spicy with an after-bite. I had the right dog for the right job and equally importantly, I loved him. Seriously, who wouldn’t? Then all I had to do was point him in the direction of my heroine and say, ‘Go get her, boy!’
Do you enjoy reading animals in fiction? Got any favorites you’d recommend? For me, it’s Phoebe Somerville’s French poodle, Pooh, in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s ‘It Had To Be You.’ My favorite screen animal is Babe the pig (in the first movie, before Hollywood changed him).
Make a comment and go into the draw for a signed copy of Stand-In Wife. If you want to read Salsa in action, check out this excerpt here.