Saturday, September 21, 2019

Dogs and cats in books

I've been a fan of Mary Lee Ashford's since I met her and her writing partner (under the name of Sparkle Abbey) at a Malice Domestic conference years ago. Ever since I've enjoyed reading the Pampered Housedogs series, and I've also enjoyed Mary Lee's Sugar and Spice books. So I invited her to come visit my blog and talk about dogs and cats in books.
I am so excited to be a guest on Neil’s blog and even more excited to hear that he had a new Golden Retriever book out this month! Dog’s Green Earth is definitely right on the top of my to-be-read list and I hope it’s on yours as well.
You see, I love dogs (and cats, too) in books and Rochester, the aforementioned golden retriever, is a great example of why. When books have pets that are fully integrated into the story, it makes the story so much richer. And those canine or feline characters help us get to know the human characters in the story.

First off, just like in real life, whether someone has a pet or not tells us a lot about them. If they don’t, why not? Do they wish they could, but live somewhere that doesn’t allow pets? Have they had a bad experience?

If they do have a pet, how they came to have this particular pet tells us even more. Was it a search for just the right cat or dog? A desire for a particular breed? Or are they, like me, an adopter of strays and a supporter of animal rescue shelters? Neither approach is right or wrong, but it may shed some light on this character’s background and what makes them tick.

And how about the other characters in the book? How do they react to the pets? And, just as important, how do the pets react to them? It’s certainly true that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat animals.

When I started writing the Sugar & Spice mystery series, I gave Sugar a cat, Ernest, and Dixie, a dog. Dixie’s dog, Moto, is a mixed breed she adopted from the local rescue. And Ernest, is a six-toed tabby who adopted Sugar. She didn’t plan on having a cat, but…now she does.

Animals in a book not only give you great insights on the characters, but they can also, at times, play a part in the plot of the story. Perhaps, prompting action, increasing conflict, or serving as a cohort in uncovering a clue.

How about you? Do you like pets in books? Do you have a favorite fictional dog or cat?

About the Sugar & Spice Mysteries:

Sugar (Rosetta Sugar-Baker), a down-sized magazine editor and Spice (Dixie Spicer), a blue-ribbon baker, believe they have the perfect ingredients for a successful community cookbook publishing business. When you stir in a dash of small town drama and a dollop of murder the result is a delicious new mystery series…

Game of Scones - Sugar & Spice Mysteries Book 1

Risky Biscuits - Sugar & Spice Mysteries Book 2

About Mary Lee

Mary Lee Ashford writes the Sugar and Spice series for Kensington Books, and also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey. She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a former board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC Internet group, Guppies. Her delights are encouraging other writers, reading, and enjoying her family, especially her six grandchildren.

And she loves to connect with readers!


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