We got a new cat last week. Well, new to us. The shelter estimates that she’s 8 years old.
We had our last cat—also a rescued older kitty—only a year before we lost her to feline leukemia. She’s a hard act to follow. She was such a perfect cat that even my husband, who’s way more of a dog person, loved her. She liked to sit next to him on the couch and watch football on TV. She cuddled with my 14-year-old at night but never hogged the bed or demanded breakfast at 4 am.
I wasn’t going to get another pet right away, but the kids were lobbying hard—even the older kid, who’s out of state at college. So I raised the issue with my husband, who decided this was a good opportunity to inform me that several months ago he’d put a deposit down on a Tesla 3. Heated negotiations followed. End result: husband will get rid of at least one of the motorcycles he never rides and at least one existing car (he’s accumulated them). I get to pick the Tesla’s color and buy whatever I want during this spring’s trip to Zagreb and Paris. We get a cat, and she’s named Niki in honor of Nikola Tesla (who has a statue and a street named after him in central Zagreb).
So now Niki is settling in. I think she’s forgiven me for dragging her to the vet. She adores ear rubs and has the world’s softest fur.
And I’ve been thinking about how animals can serve as author muses. A couple of my stories have been inspired by animals I knew. Elwood in Speechless? Based on a one-eyed orange cat who lives near my office building. Lady Gaga, the Saint Bernard cross in “Care & Rehabilitation,” shares many qualities with Billie and Ruthie, who were beloved members on my family. In my upcoming novel The Little Library, the protagonist adopts a Ridgeback mix who bears a certain resemblance to a dog who lives with my brother and sister-in-law.
One good thing about including pets in stories is that, unlike humans, they will never complain that their portrayal is unflattering.
Of course, non-domestic animals can also inspire. When the moon is full, Dylan from the Bones series turns into a very wolfy sort of wolf, as do Orris and Henry from “Transformation.” Some birds serve important roles in the Ennek series. In “The Tale of August Hayling,” the title character encounters a very unexpected sort of beast. And of course there’s Rattlesnake, where the reptile in question is more allegorical than scaly.
Do you have a favorite book in which an animal plays a key role? Please share in the comments!
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
A complete list of Kim’s books: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/kim-fieldings-books/