This week my guest is Dorothy Bodoin (pronounced like Beaudwin), one of my favorite writers and a dear friend. I asked her to discuss collies because they’re a major part of every story, and she’s obliged me with some interesting thoughts. I have to add that her collie, Kinder, is a characters and the real life stories just crack me up. Welcome, Dorothy!
Crazy Over Collies
There have been very few times in my life when I haven’t had a canine companion, so it was only natural that when I began writing fiction, I created dog characters to keep my heroines company.
I can’t imagine life without a collie in it. Well, in truth, I can. Some years ago, I was hospitalized and afterward spent about six weeks in a nursing home. During that time, I lost my beloved tricolor collie, Holly, and I didn’t think I could have a collie until six months later.
It was an unhappy time, filled with lingering trauma and, above all, loneliness.
I should mention that the collie is my heart breed. Maybe it started with the original Lassie movies; maybe with my Albert Payson Terhune books, which I still have. By the time our first collie, Heather--named for a Terhune collie--joined our household, I was sold. Committed. There’s never been a question of going back.
In my novel of romantic suspense, Ghost Across The Water, Joanna loses her collie, Kinder, and feels as if all the color has drained out her world. She sees everything in monochromatic tones. Ironically I wrote those passages before the long, lonely months when there was no collie in my own house.
So my real collie, Kinder (Wolf Manor Kinder Brightstar), keeps me company while I write, and supplies me with countless antics for my books. Which brings me to My Rule #1--Just as you take good care of your real-life collie, you have to take care of the dogs in your books.
In one scene, Joanna, reaches her cottage in a dangerous downpour and neglects to even
acknowledge the presence of the collie she’d left at home, let alone see to her needs.
I’d never do that with my dogs. I guess I was so immersed in Joanna’s danger that I couldn’t focus on anything else.
Fortunately my then-critique partner called my attention to Joanna’s neglect, and I hastily rewrote the scene. Now Jennet, heroine of the Foxglove Corners mysteries, has six collies and I have to make sure that all are accounted for as I take Jennet through her current adventures. Believe me, that isn’t so easy.
When I wrote my first published novel, Darkness At Foxglove Corners, Holly was a young dog. She served as the model for Halley, Jennet Greenway’s tricolor collie. Incidentally, if you’d like to see a picture of Holly (Wolf Manor Dark Holly), you’ll find one on my website: www.dorothybodoin.com She’s sitting in her favorite rocking chair and this is my favorite picture. Kinder has never even thought of jumping into that chair; she’s a larger, longer collie.
As I write my books, I try to adhere to My Rule #2--A fictitious collie may find herself in peril and often does, but I am never going to kill her. As a reader, I’ve shed too many tears over dogs killed off by their creators.
With this rule in mind, I hesitated over the opening situation of The Dog From the Sky. Jennet, now Jennet Ferguson, married to Deputy Sheriff Crane Ferguson, comes across a blue merle collie left to die a horrible death. Jennet rescues the dog, names her Sky, and from then on, Sky has a wonderful life as part of the Ferguson pack.
This story was inspired by a real-life incident shared with me by my “collie” friend, Judy Kuhn. In real life, there was a different outcome. My great desire to change the fate of the blue merle inspired me to write this book.
By the way, Jennet has rescued so many collies during her career as a teacher-sleuth that I decided to have her join the fictitious Lakeville Collie Rescue League. Our own Tri-County Collie Rescue is an organization after my own heart. I always make sure they have Foxglove Corners books to sell in the hope that the funds may help their foundlings in some little way.
Rule #3 isn’t really a rule. I often joke that not only do I have to cook for myself, I have to give Jennet several menu ideas for every book. I have my own list of Christmas gifts to buy for friends and family, and Jennet has to have one too. I’ve chosen names for my own collies, and Jennet has done the same.
Ironically I used the name Kinder for Joanna’s collie in Ghost Across The Water, the one in danger of being forgotten during a thunderstorm by a clueless writer. When the time came for me to name my new puppy, I named her after Joanna’s Kinder. My little sable pup became Wolf Manor Kinder Brightstar.
My collie, Kinder, lets me write without interruption--usually. She is just as likely to toss one of her toys at me, and because I can refuse her nothing,--well almost nothing,--I’ll take a break and play with her. She comes into my office to remind me that it’s time to fix dinner--hers and mine. She adds joy and color to my life and keeps me from being lonely.
Which is why I give my heroines collies in their lives.
As a reader, I always gravitate toward books with dogs on the cover. If they’re collies, all the better. A paper dog adds joy and color to a writer’s story, too. If you’re a new writer, if you truly love dogs, you might want to remember that.
Thank you, Dorothy. If I wasn’t so nuts about Labrador retrievers, I’d be looking at the companionship of a collie. Check out Dorothy’s latest book, A Ghost of Gunfire.
CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw’s website
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to Amazon.com
COMING IN FEBRUARY: How Now Purple Cow – A Bogey Man Mystery