Pets play a big part in the world of traditional and cozy mysteries. Does your character have a pet? How did you decide what pet to have? Does having a pet complicate your character’s life?
Edith: Yes! All my protagonists have cats, and they’re all taken directly from my own real life cats. My late Birdy is on the cover of every Country Store mystery. Felines are so independent, they don’t complicate my characters’ lives much. The exception is Mac Almeida in the Cozy Capers Book Group series. She’s allergic to cats and dogs, so she has an African gray parrot, who really livens up some of the scenes with what she says. Mac does have to get home to feed Belle and clean her cage, but so far that hasn’t been a problem.
Barb: Yes, pets are a complication for a busy sleuth! When the Maine Clambake series opens, Le Roi, the Maine coon cat, lives on Morrow Island during the summer and spends the off-season on the mainland with the island caretakers. By the end of Clammed Up that arrangement is no longer an option, so that fall he goes home with my protagonist, Julia Snowden. Le Roi loves Julia but takes a very dim view of her boyfriend Chris, who, in fairness, did arrive on the scene after Le Roi. Le Roi spends the second summer of the series on the island living with Julia’s sister Livvie’s family. By the fall, in Sealed Off and Haunted House Murder, he is living at Julia’s mother’s house and quite content about it.
Liz: Ha, you have to ask?? Both Stan Connor of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries and Maddie James of the Cat Cafe Mysteries are surrounded by pets. For Stan, she starts out with one cat, the famous Nutty, in Kneading to Die and seems to pick up a new friend in every story of the series, both dog AND cat. (And they say writers try to keep themselves out of their characters, ha!)
And Maddie James finds a stray in the cemetery in Cat About Town, and by the second book, Purrder She Wrote, she opens a cat cafe, JJ’s House of Purrs. Which means she’s surrounded by cats all the time and loves it.
Jessie: Usually pets have not played much of a role in my books so I was surprised to discover the important part played by Edwina Davenport’s dog Crumpet in the first Beryl and Edwina Mystery, Murder in an English Village. He has continued to add good excuses for lurking about searching for clues and for giving both sleuths a daily dose of exercise. Just yesterday I wrote a scene where he accompanied Edwina to a shop on the High Street. I’ve grown to like him so much we’ve added a real life dog to our own household. Sam isn’t a Norwich Terrier like Crumpet since I am allergic to most dogs but has provided much delight and inspiration nevertheless.
Sherry: Sarah doesn’t have a pet. While she was a military wife she saw the complications of moving a pet from place to place. Now, she’s too busy for a dog and allergic to cats. However, her landlady and friend, Stella Wild, has a tuxedo cat, Tux, that she rescued. Sarah does love Tux and the feeling is mutual.
Readers: Which is your favorite literary pet? Do you have an animal at home?