Sunday, June 17, 2007

Don't Touch That Critter

Critters Are Off Limits When it Comes to Murder.

Today I was reading another newsletter from some very good mystery writers. To my surprise, this revelation hit me square on. “Unless you want to feel the wrath of your fans, do not kill off the critters in your novel.” Whether they are winged, four footed, or slithering—apparently fans will not appreciate you ending the precious pet lives. One mystery writer accidentally included a cat to help solve a problem – and then the cat had to become a part of her series – her plot needed to include reasons for the cat to be — and thus put a new twist in her series.

I wish I had known that before I wrote Skull Music. Oliver Beeblebox leaves a trail of bodies, mostly human, accidentally a cat is left hurting as someone else breaks in and causes havoc in our sleuth’s home. Oliver loves cats, he would never harm one. Oliver loves Charlie Wolfe. Charlie Wolfe loves cats and graciously accepts Midnight from Oliver, before she knew the very fragile thread that connected this man to sanity.

There are also Dolphins in this book – Xenotransplant Labs are experimenting with sounds, brain wave patterns to be exact. They do not harm the dolphins in these experiments – but they have more sinister plans than what appears on the surface.

Charlie Wolfe keeps her cats, Marblesque and Midnight, but nearly loses her life. I will remember never to let her precious cats disappear.

In the next story in this series Marblesque helps a young boy deal with his mother’s deployment to Iraq when he stays at Charlie’s home in his mother’s absence. Ghost Music of Vaudeville is really Tommy’s Story, but his friendship with the cat Marblesque, who seems to sense exactly what a person needs, continues in the place of the feline mystique in this mystery/suspense.

I will never again let an animal come to harm in any of my books. Rather like the disclaimer at the end of the movies nowadays—‘no animal was harmed in the filming of this movie’ – no critter was harmed in the writing of my books, anymore ever--at least not fatally, I’m reminded of Hooch here. He was wounded, but Tom Hanks saved his life by getting him medical attention quickly.
Spare the animal, save the fan!


JanetElaineSmith said...

I can't imagine something happening to Muffin, my "talking dog," in my Patrick and Grace Mysteries. And in Par for the Course, well, if Mechi hadn't known what to do with the horses at Dunnottar Castle, well, it just wouldn't be the same book. Thanks for the thoughts.
Janet Elaine Smith

Anonymous said...

I can agree with this one, Billie--think if something had happened to Maggie :-( It would have destroyed me let alone the reader!!!