This is a guest post written by Eileen Hodgetts, author of Whirlpool.
Dogs and Fiction
My new novel, Whirlpool, is about a woman who risks her own life by trying to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. I want to assure you that no fish, ducks, domestic animals or wildlife of any sort was injured in the making of the book. The book only contains one reference to a dog and a cat and I am not spoiling the story for anyone when I assure you that the dog and the cat survive and life happily ever after.
When a writer introduces some kind of animal as a major player in their novel, I immediately begin to worry. Will the animal be okay? Will we be subjected to a harrowing death scene? Will the animal go hungry, or be left to fend for itself? Will the author ever backtrack and tell me that the horse, dog, cat, rabbit or whatever is okay? I get so busy worrying about the animal that I really can’t concentrate on the humans. Black Beauty was a nightmare for me; all those terrible things happening to the horses. I can’t even remember any of the other characters.
I now have two published novels and a dozen stage plays and, although my own animals are part of my daily life, I simply won’t give my fictional characters any kind of animals to care for. It’s hard enough making sure the hero of the novel survives without creating sub-plots to make sure that all the domestic animals are cared for. Whirlpool is set in Niagara Falls in the 1920s and Evangeline, our heroine, is determined to achieve fame and fortune (and maybe a Hollywood contract) by surviving a ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel constructed by the Women’s Freedom Movement. Evangeline is a young widow who was married to a compulsive gambler. With the kind of life she has led, I can’t imagine that she would have had time to take care of an animal. However, Joshua McClaren, the war traumatized river man who is hired to supervise the launching of the barrel. Is a different kind of person. I would like to have given him a large loyal dog, but then I would have to worry about taking care of the dog while Joshua is risking his life to try to save Evangeline. So, no dog for Joshua. When you read the book for yourself, you can decide whether there might be one or two cats hanging around Joshua’s boatyard.
Whirlpool is a novel about people in peril of losing their lives or losing their chance of love, but I have maintained my promise; no animals are harmed . Of course there is a chapter about a pirate ship with bears and monkeys and other wild animals all headed for the Falls, (and it’s a true story) but ...
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