Reader Friday: Animal Characters

Do you have any animal characters in your WIP? Tell us about them!

Or:

What’s your favorite fictional pet? Why?

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About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and Expertido.org named her Murder Blog as โ€œBest 100 Crime Blogs on the Netโ€ (2018-2021). She also blogs at the Kill Zone (Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers" 2013-2021). Sue lives with her husband and two spoiled guinea pigs in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writes two psychological thriller series (Tirgearr Publishing) and true crime/narrative nonfiction (Rowman & Littlefield). And recently, she appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series Storm of Suspicion. Learn more about Sue and her books at https://suecoletta.com

47 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Animal Characters

  1. Good morning, Sue. No animal pets in my stories, but in fiction, they would be Lassie (who needs no introduction), Tripod (the three-legged raccoon in the Dave Robicheaux novels by James Lee Burke), and, of course, Cujo (who got dealt a bad paw).

    Have a great weekend, Sue!

  2. Leave us not ferget Old Yeller…

    On the paws-itive side, there’s Scooby-Do, Mutley, and the Jetsons’ Astro… (sorry, I guess I’m drawn to cartoon canines…)

    I did have an English Springer Spaniel on a NaNo one year… slept on the couch, selectively hard of hearing, more watching dog than watch-dog…

    Enjoy your weekend…

  3. Charlotte, the spider in Charlotte’s web, has always been my favorite fictional pet.

    No pets in any of my stories, but in my current WIP I include a sterling silver spider charm.

  4. Dobie, the Doberman, guards the neighbor’s immaculate backyard in my Mad River Magic series. When Bolt, the MC, cuts across the yard, Dobie is right on his tail, not because he wants to take a hunk out of Bolt’s backside, but because he wants doggie treats from Bolt’s magic wand.

    Favorite fictional pet: all the dogs who sacrifice their lives to protect the MC, their child, or their family.

    Great questions, Sue.

  5. A number of my books include pets. Mostly dogs, but the cats in Finding Sarah play an important role in making Randy face his past. In Remaking Morgan, the dog was important enough to be included on the cover. In the current WIP, yes, there are dogs.
    My problem with including pets is making sure I don’t forget about them.
    I agree with the previously mentioned pets, and would add Rin Tin Tin, Bullet, Toto, and more that will come to mind after I’ve had my coffee. Does Snoopy count?

    • Snoopy counts in my book! Love him and Woodstock.

      I could never forget about the pets in my books. They’ve become important characters. Cats, I think, might be easier to forget than dogs. Dogs will not be ignored. LOL

  6. There are probably others I’m not thinking of right now but what pet has had more adventures than Lassie? And Lassie I have read in books, watched on TV, and even movies.

  7. My Women’s Fiction, The Road to Me, due out in April has a goat! I’ve had a fat palomino named Pork Chop, an English Bulldog, and many bucking bulls in my previous books.

  8. Zuri (the word means beautiful in Swahilli) is a lovable baby rhino orphaned when she witnesses her mother’s brutall slaughter by poachers. She’s the main character in ZURI, a love story set at the Kihali animal orphanage located in beautiful Kenya. It’s the story of the baby rhino’s rescue, recovery from trauma, and eventual return to her natural habitat thanks to devoted wildlife experts, the talented rhino whisperers of Africa, and the animal and human friends she makes at Kihali.

    Even Sue loved Zuri!

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007YUZYMS/

  9. Fun question, Sue! Spoiler Alert —

    There’s a cattery in my WIP’s story world, a secret school operated in a working coal mine by the fugitive geneticist Dr. Dessous. During the tour of my main character’s newly arrived class, the Facilities Superintendent explains, “They’re not just pets, Miss. We got a problem with mice riding in on timber cars. The cats keep ’em in line.”

    One of the cats, an American Bobtail named Lynx, befriends my main character and her directionally-challenged roommate. Lynx’s appearance to the roommate at a key moment is a spark that ignites the Big Climax.

    • Awesome, Louis! Pets should play a vital role in the story, or there’s no reason to include them. Lynx sounds like a great character. ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. No pets in my current series, but there will be a SAR dog in my next series. And I just realized I donโ€™t have a name for him. I think Iโ€™ll have a contest!

  11. Years ago, when my parents were ministers in a local village in the western part of Nigeria, my mum narrated an encounter she had on her way to farm alone. She saw two big snakes on her pathway engaging in a bitter duel. She was about to start running back home when she saw a massive bird flying down to ‘end the fight’.

    That experience birthed a novella in me which I titled ‘Inhabitants of the Forest’. I finished the first draft in 2018 and left it gathering dust on my computer while I focused on other things.

    The book involves three animal characters: a mamba, a cobra and a hawk. (I won’t say more than that so I don’t spoil the fun for you in case you decide to read the book someday).

    About three months ago, I remembered the book and started rewriting and editing it. It should be out in February 2022.

    The most famous character in our (Yorubaland and Igboland) fairytale is the tortoise who is known for his craftiness and greed. Almost any kid here can tell you at least a story involving the tortoise.

    ‘Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria’ by Elphinstone Dayrell has some of these stories. Find it here:

    https://www.amazon.com/Folk-Stories-Southern-Nigeria-Africa-ebook/dp/B004UJ9AVM/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2CREQS3B29OKN&keywords=folk+stories+from+southern+nigeria&qid=1636118779&sprefix=folk+stories+from+southern+nigeria%2Caps%2C442&sr=8-1

  12. Very fun question, Sue! I don’t yet have a pet for my librarian hero in the cozy series I’m working on. And pets and cozies go together like ice cream and pie. Plus, Casa Smith has been fortunate to have been inhabited by a number of wonderful felines over the past 33 years, it would certainly be fun to write about one. As for favorite fictional pets, another vote for Scooby Doo ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for another morning-brightening Friday question. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Thanks, Dale. Your librarian definitely needs a pet! Don’t all cozy heroines have pets? Great idea to use one of your own pets as inspiration. I do the same. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Happy weekend!

    • It’s a rare cozy cover without a cat and dog on it. Some don’t even have a pet in the book.

  13. Fun question, Sue!

    In my cozy mystery series, Barkley is the loyal border collie who accompanies the main character on her trail runs. Barkley is cute and smart. He also proves himself to be brave in “Dead Man’s Watch” when he confronts a rattle snake that is threatening a group of horses.

    Along with the other dogs mentioned above, how about the amazing Buck in “Call of the Wild.”

  14. My thriller STALKING MIDAS features a cranky senior who can’t stand people but will do anything for his nine feral cats.

    Writing the book was like–dare I say it?–herding cats. They sometimes provided comic relief but were integral to the swindle perpetrated by the villain.

    I had to focus on only one feline for a starring role. “Rambo” earned his name multiple times in the story.

  15. Max, a large black dog, is a secondary but important character in my WIP, No Tomorrows. He belongs to the MC and her family. I love him!

    He plays a dress-up game with the family at the end of the novel. He is cast as the evil Squire Bulger, who kidnaps Annie, the Queen of the Land, and holds her for ransom. But the youngest child, Nora, discovers that giving him one of his bones will magically release Annie.

    It plays into the theme of the novel quite nicely, since Annie, throughout the novel is held captive by her fear. ‘Nuff said! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy weekend, all!

  16. My novels are too busy to sustain a pet, unless you call Sorcerer Mogrovat’s dragonbirds, with the 20 foot wingspan, “pets.” Summoned from a distant dimension, they attack Hirand, his princess friend, and their companions. Yes, they’re a bit rude . . .

    But I almost forgot the rhino: “Iโ€™d bought Zaka through a chap whom Iโ€™d met via a personal email letter. Someone had recommended me to him for my love of animals and my good business sense. It seems this Nigerian chap, Dr. Sheldon Nabongalele, was President of the Rhinoceros Protection Society, or RPS . . . ”

    And if you want animals, there are dozens at Schroon Lake Apostolic Church’s upcoming third annual Feast of St. Francis and Blessing-of-the-Animals: “Thereโ€™s a lot of interest again this year, folks. Weโ€™ve already received forty or fifty phone calls and a dozen anonymous notes shoved under the rectory door . . .”

    Animals are a hard act to follow.

  17. Barkley, the half-grown German shepherd, in my romantic suspense GUARDIAN ANGEL. He helps my heroine find the hero during the gunfight finale in the dark woods beside a lake. He and his little boy are also cuteness personified in the final wedding scene, too.

    When animals would fit into a plot, I’d always have a dog, cat, or horse in my books because I’m an animal nut.

    • Me too, Marilynn! I had a real Barkley years ago. Awesome dog. Love that you used Barkley to drive the plot in GUARDIAN ANGEL. The book sounds like a winner. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. In my latest middle grade novel, Boots and Buckets, I have a couple horses and a main character who is afraid of them.

    There are so many wonderful pets from kids’ books. Some of my favorite are Mudge, from the Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant; Tabby, from Mr. Putter and Tabby also by Rylant; and George from George and the Stolen Sunny Spot by Kristin Bauer Ganoung. Mudge gets his owner into trouble, Tabby takes care of his owner, and George is the security force for his farm.

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