Do you like your hero or heroine to have a pet or two? Does it make them more real to you if they cuddle a kitty after yelling at their true love? Or cry into their horse’s mane? Or maybe she owns a really clever pet bird that frightens away a would-be bad guy? Do you like the thought of your hunky hero going for a run with his dog?
I can think of one mystery author who always includes a cat or two in her books and the cats’ characters are every bit as vivid as that of the humans. And sometimes far more interesting to me, as a reader too.
I know of another author who adores animals and it shows in every line she writes about her shapeshifter wolves.
Then there are books I’ve read with a pet introduced in chapter one and never mentioned again in the book. I’m always left wondering, “What happened to the pet when the lovers hooked up? Is the pet going to get an HEA or not?”
There are a group of well-known authors who have written entire series of books where the hero or heroine is basically just a foil for the animal character that solves the mystery/ saves the world. That is another entire genre of book
According to the God of all Knowledge, WikiAnswers, 63% of American households have a pet, the vast majority of them either a dog and/or a cat. Hamsters, fish, mice, guinea pigs, birds, snakes, bunnies, iguanas and ferrets are all in the top ten pets depending on who you believe.
So this is where I came in. If so many people own pets do they want to read about them in their books? Because they have a pet do they feel better if the hero/heroine has a pet?
Or do they see pets as something a kid needs to grow up with, rather like a bike and a football? Or just another household chore to perform? Do the laundry, cook the supper, walk the dog?
Many animals offer their human endless love, trust and companionship. They don’t fuss about unwashed blankets or unironed clothing. They adore being petted and at least pretend to listen when you talk to them. But does this uncomplaining attitude then make the hero or heroine look bad when they are upset at how their lover is treating them?
So what do you think? Should book characters be pet-owners? Or is this likely to make them be less appealing to their lover? After all, it is hardly romantic for the heroine to say, “I can’t go out without you tonight. I have to clean out the bird cage.”
I think, for authors, it comes down to the old saying “write what you know”. If you adore animals it will show in how you write them and the reader will love to read about Spot and Fluffy. If you consider the horse as just something that needs to be brushed from bite to kick, it’s better to avoid putting that in your novel. And readers respond to this. They love to read about genuine animal characters and their relationship with the hero and heroine. But the heroine’s pet that only appears in chapter one as a quick-fix solution to move the plot along—the reader sees right through that and feels cheated.
Author: Berengaria Brown
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand