Just released! The Clock Strikes Midnight by Joan C. Curtis
Tips for Using Animals in Your Stories
I love to read about characters who have pets. Whenever there is a cat or a dog in a book, my interest peaks. I do not, however, like it when animals do things that are superhuman. I don't like for the animals to talk nor do I like it when they solve crimes. The one exception for me was the fascinating book, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. The author wrote the entire book from the dog's point of view. He did a great job of getting into the mind of the dog. The dog couldn't do super-dog things, but he did see things from a dog's perspective.
What I don't like is to see animals hurt. When an author uses an animal to demonstrate a character's cruelness, I consider that a cheap method. I loved The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, but I hated when Stieg Larsson killed a cat. After experiencing what this killer did to women, why kill a cat? It was unnecessary.
Joan's cat Caramella
To contrast this misuse of animals with a great demonstration of how to use an animal to show a character's humanity, William Boyd in Ordinary Thunderstorms created a sociopathic villain with a dog. As the book progressed, it became clear that the dog jeopardized the killer's life. He had to kill it. I skipped ahead because I couldn't experience him shooting the dog. I’m a total wimp as far as animals and children are concerned. Once I skipped ahead, however, I realized the dog was still alive. The villain couldn't kill the dog. He did abandon him, but at a home where he knew the dog would be cared for. What an amazing thing for Boyd to do! Although I disliked the killer, the author showed a bit of humanity that still remained in this villain--a multidimensional character. That's awesome writing.
In my own books, my characters have animals. In The Clock Strikes Midnight both main characters have pets. Janie has a yellow lab named Charlie and Marlene has a cat named Nellie. Neither play prominent parts, but both demonstrate each character’s compassion for their four-legged creatures.
To all the authors out there, I say, please don't kill your animals to make a point. Find a better way to do it!
Dr. Joan Curtis is an award winning writer who has published 5 books and numerous stories.
"There is a feeling of the great southern author, Fannie Flagg in The Clock Strikes Midnight," said the Rabid Reviewer. "Curtis beautifully highlights the complexity of relationships when mental illness is a player. She, in a move nothing short of brilliant, introduces us to the mother as a teen. Eloise's internal dialogue is fascinating. Her development shows how a young girl spirals out of control...
Thank you, Joan, for being on my blog today with your great post! Readers, any questions for Joan or tales of stories with animals gone horribly--or wonderfully?