Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pets Forever!

As mentioned in our recent KillerHobbies newsletter (yay Camille!), I learned recently that there would be at least two more Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries, numbers 8 and 9--a very good thing, since I just (yesterday!) sent off the manuscript for number 7, NEVER SAY STY.

I love writing this series! I had no idea, when I started it, how long it might go on. One of the things that’s so fun is that I get to feature not only dogs and cats, but more unusual pets as well. So far, I’ve included a ball python, a Blue and Gold Macaw, ferrets, and iguanas and, soon to come, potbellied pigs, in addition to many breeds and mixed breeds of pups, plus several kinds of kitties, too.

Right now, my mind is swirling around other possibilities. Fish are the most popular of pets, but do readers want to have them as central figures in murder mysteries? What about rats, mice, hamsters or guinea pigs? Some of them are cute, but they are, after all, mostly rodents, so will they tickle a reader’s fancy? At least they’re mammals. How about other kinds of reptiles? Amphibians? Other types of birds?

Okay, you can see my dilemma and delight. I can certainly use some input, although I admit I have some ideas of my own, based on some twists that occur in NEVER SAY STY. But I love to hear other people’s ideas.

What kinds of pets do you see possibly playing a pivotal role in upcoming Kendra mysteries?



Kathryn Lilley said...

Have you considered an octopus? I'm going to post a blog Friday about my thoughts about a story I heard about their kinky sex lives. Could one be kept in a large home aquarium? They sound like fascinating critters. Or maybe she's called in to feed a wild skunk (for someone who's been putting food outside for it). I can see it now, "The Smelly Side of Murder", lol.

Sheila Connolly said...


Actually, my husband kept a pet black widow in a plexiglas case in his desk for a while (at work, not at home, thank goodness). But he's an entomologist.

SinC St. Louis said...

If you write about a hamster, there's Stephanie Plum's famous pet Rex.

We've had geckos who escaped and hid out in the Hewlett Packard printer!

Another idea is a raccoon...or a miniature horse.

Sarah said...

I think a fish would be great, but I also think it would be hard to make a fish a believable character.

Kathryn some octupuses can be kept in large home aqariums - and they can even open jars to get to their food.

I think they're also escape artists, so you have to be careful to make sure there's no where they can get out of the aquarium.

Anonymous said...

It's Anonymous Kate, again. Actually raccoons and skunks, as well as pretty much all wildlife (native and non) could be a really good story idea. Laws against the collecting and keeping of them (often based on rabies issues), while usually not being enforced often, could lead to murder being committed while breaking them. Or work in an animal-rights angle - the neighbor/co-worker/pet food store clerk who finds out about the person who has the illegally kept animal ... hmmm.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, everyone, for your ideas. Anonymous Kate, I actually have been thinking along the lines of your suggestions because of some things brought up in NEVER SAY STY. I'm not sure about an octopus, Kathryn, though it's an intriguing idea. It might give some interesting hugs.
I like the miniature horse idea--they're becoming popular, and they really are cute.
And I don't think I could write about spiders--I'd spend more time cringing at my computer than writing!

caryn said...

Hi Linda,
I hope I'm not too late to chime in. I don't know if you are on DorothyL but much fun has been made of late about pet books-and unfortunatley fish started quite an ongoing thread of funnies. Not that you shouldn't do fish, but I do think they would be hard to incorporate. If you do, how about a huge salt water tank?
Also, I'm concerned about the use of "wild" animals-and this includes most reptiles, amphibians and many woodsy mammals. They do not MAKE GOOD PETS REGUARDLESS OF WHAT PET STORES SAY. Yes, people in the country come upon a raccoon or possum and raise it, but in most states it's illegal and the animals are still wild animals and can turn on people in a nanosecond. Our zoo spends a lot of time trying to educate people to NOT bring home the box turtle, baby oppossum, or buy exotic reptiles. There are plenty of domestic animals in shelters who need homes! I'm sorry for getting preachy, but please DON'T have wild animals as pets in your books!
How about bunnies? There are plenty of them in shelters and they do make nice pets. Guinea Pigs too, though as with fish it might be hard to work them into a murder.
I don't know about blackwidows (see above rant) but I know that tarantulas make interesting pets-if the people understand what they are getting. As do hermit crabs..again hard to work into a murder perhaps.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks for your comments, Caryn. If I do use any wild animals, I'll do it in a kind, caring and realistic enough way that makes it clear they're not really pets.
I am on DorothyL and figure everyone's entitled to an opinion, but if people are interested in reading cozies that follow a particular interest, why not write 'em? Kendra's stories are meant to be fun. (If murders can be fun!)
Bunnies are a possibility, as are some of the other creatures that have been mentioned. I have some time to think through what will happen next, but my subconscious now has a mission.
Thanks again!