About twelve years ago, I had surgery and my mom brought me a bag of books to read while I recovered. One of those books was Nora Roberts’ Sea Swept, the first in the Chesapeake Bay series starring the Quinn family.
The story and indeed, the entire saga, focuses on how Seth, a little boy rescued from a life of abuse by the late Ray Quinn, is absorbed into the Quinn family, first by Cameron Quinn, and in subsequent books, by his two brothers, Ethan and Phillip.
It was my first Nora novel and of course, I was hooked, though not for the hot hero, Cameron. And it wasn’t for the luscious scenery of fictional Saint Christopher. No, for me, it was because of a puppy named Foolish.
When I learned foolish things would be our theme this month, this puppy was the first topic I thought of. At first, I was a bit outraged that anyone would name a dog “Foolish,” but as I came to love Nora’s books, I discovered this is a bit of a theme for her. By Book 4 in this series, the Quinns have a dog named Witless and in another Nora series, The Sign of the Seven trilogy, hero Caleb names his dog “Lump.” These names are not insulting and not cruel, as I’d first thought. Dogs are important characters in these books. For Seth, Foolish was a savior in more ways than one. And for Caleb, Lump is a brother. A blood brother.
I don’t have dogs of my own, but almost all members of my family do. When I was writing NOTHING LEFT TO BURN, Tucker, a border collie who belongs to my sister-in-law, kept nosing into my lap to see what I was typing. I finally looked him right in the eye and told him I was writing him into the story. I’ll be damned if he didn’t understand exactly what I said and just stretched out on the floor at my feet, happy with this decision. Tucker is hero Reece Logan’s only friend for much of the book and even though I don’t own a dog of my own, I thoroughly enjoyed writing him as the sort of pal a boy should have.
I did this again in another project that was never published. It’s called THE SKY WAS SCARLET. In this story, hero Riley Carter begins to experience strange visions – a big problem since he does not believe in paranormal stuff. A friend drags him to a psychic named Matt. Matt is the real deal, but Riley doesn’t believe a word. So Matt tells him the story of the time he first discovered he was different. It was after his dog died. Matt was a little boy at the time and so consumed by grief, his parents immediately bought him a new puppy. But it felt wrong -- maybe even disloyal – to love another dog so Matt did his best to ignore the pup. One night, his beloved dog appeared before his eyes and spoke to him, telling him the puppy already loved him and wanted desperately to be buddies. So Matt named the puppy Buddy, and he helped Matt develop and control his special abilities by becoming something of a touchstone.
I love writing pets into stories, especially when they reveal character traits in my heroes. There’s nothing foolish about that!