Creating Animal Characters
by Susan Daffron
In reviews, many readers comment that the animals in my books are characters along with the human ones. Although I don't make the animals in my books "talk" because I loathe that concept in other books, I do make the animals behave in significantly different ways.
Anyone who as ever owned a dog or a cat knows that they have personalities. Every animal is different and I try to show that in my novels. For example, Fuzzy Logic, the second book in my series of Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies, includes two dogs that play key roles. One is a Samoyed named Swoosie. The other is a black Labrador retriever named Rosa.
Even though Swoosie is a furry white dog and Rosa is a sleek black dog, they are different in far more than just looks. Swoosie has many classic Samoyed traits. She is an extremely high-energy dog who is smart, stubborn, and used to having people fawn all over her. Rosa on the other hand is mellow and sweet, but not perhaps the sharpest tool in the shed.
When I develop my books, I take time to write out profiles of the canine and feline characters along with the human ones. Before I start writing, I know exactly how each animal will behave. In the case of Fuzzy Logic, it helps that I currently own a Samoyed and have had a mellow black lab in the past. So in the book, Swoosie is a lot like my dog Fiona, except probably a bit naughtier.
As with human characters, if you take a dog's basic personality and make it a little more extreme, it can be funny. So for example, although my dog Fiona tries to eat things she is not supposed to, she has never eaten half of the contents of a buffet table at a wedding like Swoosie does in Fuzzy Logic. (But then again, Fiona has never had such a glorious opportunity for badness either, so who knows?)
Because the critters play such pivotal roles, dogs and cats from the first book in the series, Chez Stinky appear in Fuzzy Logic too. (In fact, Linus, a large brown dog has a rather vocal fan base at this point.)