Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pets Party On with a contest for you!

Victoria Abbott and Mary Jane Maffini and various furry critters!

I write three mystery series as Mary Jane Maffini and collaborate on the book collector mysteries with my daughter as Victoria Abbott. All of them have dogs and/or cats. A book without a dog or cat just seems incomplete to me somehow. A story should appeal to our senses. What can appeal to our senses more than the soft warmth of fur, the soothing sound of a satisfied purr or the warning of a convenient bark?

I can't imagine writing without a pair of cuddly pooches curled up under my desk.

Animals add heart to our tales of mystery and mayhem.  They can show the soft side of a tough sleuth and give a touch of domestic bliss to the most footloose of protagonists. A pet ensures that a character will think about someone besides herself or himself. They need to be fed, walked and cared for.  They can’t be left behind.

There’s more to it, of course, there’s the immense pleasure we get from our pets, the unreserved affection and acceptance. You can’t buy that kind of love, my friends.

Here at the Maffini house we share our lives with dogs, because one of my daughters and a grandson are violently allergic to cats. I’ve always enjoyed cats and I miss their frisky presence, so I am glad of the fictional kitties too.  

My favorite is the little calico cat in my Camilla MacPhee books.  Calico cats are my favorite. The cat is called Mrs. Parnell’s cat because Camilla doesn’t quite see herself as a pet person. So while she takes good care of “Mrs. Parnell’s cat” over the years, it never gets a name. My Canadian publisher called me when she had the manuscript for the sixth Camilla book in hand. My editor—a wonderful young man named Allistair and a committed cat person—was distressed that (and I quote) ‘the little cat still doesn’t have a name after all these books’. 

I love that story.  I did explain that the cat’s name was Mrs. Parnell’s Cat and the fictional calico was fine with that. I may have promised to have Camilla reform. I’m working on book seven now.  We’ll just have to see how that plays out. She never made the cover and we're not sure who the black cat is!

Mysteries have been great places for me to let my dogs ‘live on’ and perhaps have more fun than they normally do.  We feed our dogs food from the vet and never take-out, but the hapless Fiona Silk in the mysteries of the same name often lets her Samoyed, Tolstoy, have take-out fries. It’s fiction and Tolstoy reminds me of my own Samoyed, Bella, now long gone.  Should I have a warning note: Kids, do not attempt this at home?

Here's Bella with Victoria, a while back.

A pair of rescued miniature dachshunds  bring some extra life to my Charlotte Adams organizing mysteries.  My own Daisy and Lily are nice little girls, therapy dogs and very cuddly are the models.  Somehow Truffle and Sweet Marie are on the wicked side, shredding toilet paper to show their displeasure and generally being spoiled.

Charlotte’s dogs can’t help it. They were found abandoned on the medium of the Interstate. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The book collector mysteries (written with Victoria) have a pug who is the icon for the series.  Walter appears on every cover.  And because life can mimic fiction,  Victoria is now ‘mum’ to Peachy the Pug, who is the spitting image of Walter.  Peachy never misses a book launch either.  She is a bit more princessy than Walter, but don’t tell Victoria or Peachy I said that.   We’re not sure where Good Cat and Bad Cat come from,  but we’ve become quite fond of them.

Finally, there’s Smudge, the dog I still miss every day since he crossed the Rainbow Bridge at thirteen.  He was not easy – a pup who was on his way to the pound when Victoria rescued him and gave him to us for an anniversary gift. The gift turned out to high-strung mix of Corgi and Border Collie. handsome with no legs and a spectacular tail.  He was loyal and loving and his spirit still guards my front hall after many years.  I have an idea for a series in which he could play a role. We’d both like that!  And you my friends will be the first to know.

I’d love to hear what you like about pets in books or about your own!  But here’s a little fun to continue on our Facebook Cozy Chicks Group party whether you were there or not:

 Answer ANY ONE of these questions in a comment and you’ll be in a draw for our dog or cat-themed prize!  Win a Dog Rules Cushion or The Cat Lover's Magnetic Poetry kit.
Consider this like an open book test, because the answers aren’t (ahem) far from here!
Who are the dachshunds in the Charlotte Adams books?
What is Fiona Silk’s Samoyed Tolstoy favorite food?
Aside from Walter the Pug, there are also two Siamese in the Victoria Abbott book collector mysteries. What are they called?
Does Camilla MacPhee have a calico cat?  Bonus: what is that cat's name?

Have fun and don't forget to pat your pets!

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