Good day, my bookish divas and divos. I’ve had the pleasure (and agony at times) to participate in a wide variety of local book clubs. I’m amazed that people join book clubs to read outside of their comfort zone but then place stipulations on what they will or will not read (myself included – I have a thing against memoirs). Some book club members refused to read books featuring child or spousal abuse, while others adamantly refused to read anything that included a pet that died. We all have our reading quirks, but I didn’t realize how prevalent the idea of “don’t harm/kill the pet” was in the reading world until I encountered it in numerous book group settings. I’m pleased to welcome back Chris Patchell, author of The Perfect Brother. Ms. Patchell will be sharing with us her perspective on “never kill the dog.” Thank you, Ms. Patchell, for taking the time to join us today, I’m eager to learn your thoughts on this widely held opinion.
Never Kill The Dog
by Chris Patchell
I was busy writing my first book when a good friend of mine who was reading some of my early drafts gave me a great piece of fiction writing advice. “Never kill the dog,” he said. “As if I would,” I responded with a slightly baffled and somewhat disconcerted grin. At the time, my husband and I had a beagle who we babied as if he was our firstborn.
I scoffed at the notion that I would harm a fictional pet, but truthfully, I had made some pretty unorthodox choices in my story so while I hid behind the pristine virtue of my good intentions, I could understand what might make him nervous about the fate of poor, faithful Molly.
Pets play a lot of different roles in fiction, as they do in our actual lives. In fiction, we are hard-wired to like a character who is kind to an animal, just as we instantly dislike other characters who mistreat or inflict harm upon a pet. How a character interacts with an animal can provide flashes of insight into their lives, like the cop living a solitary life who feeds a stray cat. Though she may have commitment issues, or be recently divorced, through her actions we can infer that she’s a little lonely and craving connection.
Pets are often depicted as having almost supernatural abilities to pick up on things that we mere mortals are unaware of. As such, they can be an effective source of ratcheting up the suspense in the story—like the dog staring out the window into the darkness growling with his hackles raised. As a reader, we immediately recognize the danger. We know that there’s someone lurking out there in the laurel hedge. Or worse, stories where the carcass of the family pet is found, and we know that the killer is sending a message.
In my latest book, The Perfect Brother, Indira Saraf is a young woman who longs to break free of her family’s expectations and assert her independence, but as much as she likes to think of herself as a lone wolf, Indira shares her condo with her beloved dog, Hazel. Throughout the story, as the stakes continue to rise and the pressure mounts on Indira, she presents a brave face to her family and friends, but it’s only when she’s alone with Hazel that she feels comfortable showing her vulnerable side. Hazel doesn’t judge. She’s there to provide comfort.
Some pets can also play the role of protector. Max, my 5-year-old Yorkie, barks like a big dog when anyone approaches the house. Woe be to the Amazon delivery person brave enough to drop a package on our doorstep, or the wayward sketchy plastic bag seen floating down the street. Max stands at the ready, fully prepared to protect his family at the slightest provocation. Now whether he could actually make good on his boisterous threats… Well… That’s another story.
The other thing I love about introducing pets into the storyline is the way you can use them to inject moments of levity into a stressful situation. There’s a delightfully uncomfortable scene in the book when a few characters stop by Indira’s place unexpectedly. Though the scene is painfully awkward, the only one who seems oblivious to Indira’s embarrassment is Hazel. She’s just happy to see more of her friends show up.
This is one way pets can amp up the humor in a story, but there are others, like the choice of an unlikely pet. Picture a straight-laced character who happens to have a foul-mouthed parrot. The opportunities are endless.
Pets are also a great way to show character development. In my book, Deception Bay, the protagonist, Austin Martell’s relationship with his mother’s cat is acrimonious, to say the least, but as the drama of the book unfolds, Austin and the cat form an unbreakable bond.
Pets can also present obstacles in the storyline, like the protector pet who scares off the antagonist, or a reason why a character has to leave a scene and return home. So unless you’re John Wick and the pet’s demise is the inciting event for an epic three-movie revenge story throw-down, like my friend Don, I would advise you to never kill the dog.
Reading books with pets in them brings me back to my childhood when I devoured stories written by James Herriot. Tales of the spoiled dog Trickie Woo, and a host of other delightful animal creatures imbued me with a love of reading.
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I hope you enjoy reading The Perfect Brother. ♦
The Perfect Brother
by Chris Patchell
September 26 – October 21, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
A scandalous liaison. A killer on the loose. Can a young woman save her sibling from going down for murder?
Vancouver, Canada. Software engineer Indira Saraf refuses to march to her traditionalist parents’ old-world drum. Resentful of her brother’s golden-boy acceptance but still a devoted sister, she encourages him to confess his secret affair before he ends up married to a woman he doesn’t want. So she’s horrified when his student and lover is slain and he’s arrested for the gruesome crime.
Repurposing her own AI technology to prove his innocence, the unorthodox rebel scours the dead college girl’s life for clues. But when Indira discovers another missing co-ed and the suspects pile up, she learns the hard way that her digging has drawn deadly attention…
Can she hunt down the culprit before she takes a fatal fall?
The Perfect Brother is a chilling standalone suspense thriller. If you like dogged heroines, complex family relationships, and dangerous twists, then you’ll adore USA Today bestselling author Chris Patchell’s riveting tale.
Published by: Indie Pub
Publication Date: September 27th, 2022
Number of Pages: 421
ISBN: 9781733545242 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781733545235 (eBook)
ASIN: B0B2CN9M51 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | Kobo eBook | Goodreads
Chris Patchell is an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author who started writing to curb the homicidal tendencies she experienced during her daily Seattle commute. She writes gripping suspense thrillers with romantic elements set in the Pacific Northwest and believes good fiction combines a magical mix of complex characters, compelling plots, and well-crafted stories.
Over the years, she has written numerous popular books and series, including bestsellers Deadly Lies, In the Dark, and her most recent collection of small-town crime novellas, the Lacey James Series. Along the way, her writing has won several awards, including a 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Award, an IndieReader Discovery Award, and a Pacific Northwest Literary Award.
When she’s not writing, you can find Chris reading books, hanging out with her family, watching football, and struggling to keep up with her workout regime, all while shushing her incessantly yapping Yorkies. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two kids.
Connect with Chris:
BookBub – @chrispatchellauthor
Instagram – @chrispatchellauthor
Twitter – @chris_patchell
Facebook – @authorchrispatchell
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