Whether they are a main character, prominent secondary character, hero, villain, or just part of the scenery, animals can play a big part in books. I’ve had most of the above in my books. Funny enough, a toad, raccoon and mountain lion have all made the cut before a deer, though. In fact, twice I’ve had mountain lions…both times they performed a heroic act, though one was by nature in Trust in the Lawe, and the other by choice in my recently contacted book, Shadowed Trust.
I can’t imagine life without animals. We love them and we love to read about them. Who can resist the comic relief of the reindeer-antler-wearing Boston terrier/poodle mix Fabio in Christie Craig’s Divorced, Desperate and Delicious, or the heart-healing comfort of the adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Bliss in Teri Wilson’s Cup of Joe. Then there’s the moody kitty Mr. Louie in Donna Marie Rogers’ Meant to Be.
Even in my books where an animal doesn’t figure directly into the plot, they’re still in the background. Swans gliding on a lake. Birds chirping in the trees. A cat sitting on the porch, its tail lazily swishing in the afternoon sun. They add depth and realism to our scenes and settings.
And when they’re a bit more important, they have the ability to reveal things about our characters that we as authors don’t want to tell the reader outright. You know, the hero with a tough as nails exterior who reveals the wounded warrior’s heart of gold when he adopts the homeless dog who followed him home? Or the horse who listens intently as the heroine confesses her deepest fear? Because animals don’t tell secrets. Well—unless it’s a talking Mynah bird like in Tory Richards’ All the Right Moves …then you’ve got great potential for the comic relief I mentioned earlier.
In the book I recently contracted, (Shadowed Trust, release date TBA) I have a mountain lion named Sassafrass and a raccoon named Rocky. Sass offers the heroic act, and she’s in there just because I love cougars so much. Rocky will make you laugh. He comes from the raccoon we had one summer when I was growing up. He used to crawl in our sleeping bags with us and help build sand castles. Well…he demolished what my siblings and I built, but we still had fun!
Okay, after all that rambling, it’s time for you to share…Who’s your favorite animal character in a book? And, do you have favorite author for writing animals?
**Everyone who comments is eligible for the prize at the end of the week: ebook or print copy of my new release, TRUST IN THE LAWE. Check out my website for an excerpt of this and my other books.
Stacey Joy Netzel