Hi, I’m JL Merrow. Thanks to RJ for welcoming me here today as part of the Relief Valve blog tour. 😀
I’ll be making the draw around teatime on Monday 7th April, GMT. Good luck! 😀
The Blog Post
Today I’m pondering the following question:
Why do fictional characters have pets?
For some animal characters, of course, the question might more properly be phrased, “Why do fictional pets have humans?” Think of Lassie—does anyone even remember who her nominal owner was? Or what about Flipper the crime-fighting dolphin, Willy the freedom-loving whale, or Skippy the Bush Kangaroo?
Here, the animals were the stars of the shows, and indeed their whole raison d’être. But what about shows, or stories, where the animals play only bit parts? Why include them at all?
Well, for one thing, it makes the human characters seem more real, more sympathetic and relatable. Although not always—the image of James Bond villain Ernst Blofeld stroking a fluffy white cat springs to mind. Here, the bad guy is rendered more grotesque by juxtaposition with a cute little furball. But generally speaking, a character seen stroking his ferret, tickling his pet trout or playing fetch with his dog is rendered more likeable.
Many famous fictional characters have pets. Harry Potter has Hedwig the owl, although she is a working pet, being the wizarding equivalent of a Muggle teenager’s mobile phone. The Earl of Grantham, master of Downton Abbey, has his yellow Labrador retriever, Isis. And, of course, Sherlock Holmes’ companion Dr Watson famously kept a bull pup.*
You can judge the character of a man by how he treats his fellow animals – Paul McCartney
In Oliver Twist, we know Bill Sikes is a wrong’un when we see him beating his dog, Bull’s Eye. But it need not be so blatant: in Mansfield Park, the indolent Lady Bertram dotes on her lapdog, known only as “pug” – an overbred, highly strung, unattractive animal of no practical use whatsoever. Well, they do say pets and owners grow to resemble one another!
I’ve always liked giving my characters pets. In Slam! my main character and narrator Jude has a little dog, Bubbles, who is, shall we say, not the most intelligent of animals, but incredibly affectionate and loyal.
In Pressure Head and Relief Valve, of course, Tom has his two cats, Arthur and Merlin. I’ll leave it up to the reader to discover just what they illustrate about Tom and Phil! 😉
Question: Do you have a favourite fictional animal?
* But nobody knows what Doyle actually meant by this. It probably wasn’t, in fact, a dog!
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy.
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
If you dig up the past, be prepared to get dirty
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since plumber Tom Paretski and P.I. Phil Morrison became connected at the heart, if not always at Tom’s dodgy hip. Neither of their families has been shy about voicing their disapproval, which hasn’t helped Tom’s uneasy relationship with his prickly older sister, Cherry.
But when Cherry is poisoned at her own engagement party, the horror of her near death has Tom’s head spinning with possible culprits. Is it her fiancé Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and an alarming taste for taxidermy? Someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister?
Phil is just as desperate to solve the case before someone ends up dead—and he fears it could be Tom. At least one of their suspects has a dark secret to hide, which makes Tom’s sixth sense for finding things like a target painted on his back…
Warning: Contains a strong, silent, macho PI; a cheeky, chirpy, cat-owning plumber; and a gag gift from beyond the grave that’ll put the cat firmly among the pigeons.
Now available in ebook: Samhain Publishing | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk