Thursday, September 17, 2015

Purrfect - Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of Mac Faraday mysteries

Lauren Carr’s Purr-fect Characters
By Lauren Carr

Readers only have to read one Lauren Carr mystery to learn one fact about me: I love animals!

Since I started writing, animal characters have figured predominantly in my books—starting with Admiral, the Great Dane-Irish wolfhound mix in the Joshua Thornton mysteries. At first, the pets figured as “walk-on” type characters. They were just there on the scene—never lending anything while never taking away from the plotlines.

Their existence was more of a statement about a general observation I have made about people. Animal people have a deeper sense of human compassion for their fellow man or woman or living creature. Notice that every one of my protagonists has some sort of pet. The Thornton family has Admiral. Cameron Gates of Lovers in Crime has Irving, her Main coon who has the markings of a skunk. Mac Faraday has the famous (or is it infamous?) Gnarly, my first larger than life furry character.

A German shepherd, Gnarly has the honor of being the first canine to receive a dishonorable discharge from the United States Army. They refuse to discuss the details of his separation from the military—and get very huffy when asked about it.
Gnarly’s highly intelligent and precocious personality is based on my Australian shepherd, Ziggy. We acquired Ziggy during half-time at a flag football game.

A woman carrying a tiny fur ball walked up to my then seven-year-old son and asked, “Would you like to hold my puppy?”

My son looked at me and I thought, “What harm can come from holding a puppy?” I said go ahead.

Once the pup was in his arms, she said, “You can keep him. He’s free.” Then she was gone!
Well, as Ziggy grew, so did his personality. I had been raised on a farm. I’ve always had a dog or cat. Yet, Ziggy was like no other animal I had ever had. He’s cunning. Sometimes, you can see the wheels spinning in his head while he analyzes a situation. When he sets his mind to something, there’s no dissuading him.

He was, and still is, a terrible beggar.

Dinnertime was awful if he was in the house because he would think nothing of jumping up onto the table while we were eating to try grabbing something. Yelling, swatting at him—nothing worked to stop him.

I had read somewhere that a good deterrent would be to shoot a water pistol in his face to teach him to stop begging. One night, I set a water pistol in the middle of the dinner table. “If Ziggy attacks,” I told my family, which consisted of my husband, young son, and wheelchair bound father-in-law who was living with us, “shoot him.”

We had chicken for dinner that night. In the middle of eating, my young son picked up a chicken leg and was in the process of bringing it to his mouth when, like a great furry shark, Ziggy shot up from the floor to grab one end of it. As Ziggy was going down, Tristan held on to the other end of the leg.
I was at the other end of the dinner table. My husband and father-in-law, who were closer to the scene of the attack, sat with their mouths hanging open while my son and our dog was in a full-fledge battle of tug-of-war with the chicken leg being the prize.

“Shoot him!” I screamed.

They were too stunned to move.

So, I snatched the weapon from the center of the table and fired across the whole length of the dining room table at the carnivorous beast. The watery ammunition hit Ziggy right between the eyes. He blinked and continued pulling my son out of his chair in his quest for the chicken leg.

Suddenly, I realized something. “Tristan, are you really going to want to eat that chicken leg if you manage to get it off Ziggy?”

Tristan released his hold on the chicken piece.

Ziggy fell back, but instantly recovered to scurry out of the dining room to his den under our bed to eat his prize.

Silence fell over the dining room.
My father-in-law was the first to speak. “Dinner and a show.” With a shake of his head, he continued eating.

The next day, I called a dog trainer who, upon analyzing Ziggy informed us that because of his high intelligence, he was easily bored, which made him look for trouble to get into.

The solution was keeping him constantly entertained.
From Ziggy, Gnarly of the Mac Faraday Mysteries was inspired and born!

My furry characters have grown as I have become increasingly aware that animals, like people, have distinct personalities--complete with quirks. 

They are characters.

In the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, Irving, Cameron’s Main Coon cat with the markings of a skunk, is based on the Main Coon cat I had when I met my husband. Like Irving, Duchess loved my husband until he married me, at which point, she became jealous. Irving makes a new friend in Kill and Run.

In Kill and Run, readers will meet not one, but three more pets! Readers met Spencer in Three Days to Forever. Spencer is Jessica’s sheltie, a blue merle (her fur is bluish in color and she has blue eyes). Murphy calls her Candi and she answers to that.

Monique is my first spider character. Her owner is Tristan, Jessica Faraday’s younger brother. Murphy hates Monique because he hates bugs. Hey! You can’t make everybody love you. Monique plays a special role in Kill and Run.

Then, we have Newman—The Man! Newman is based on our beagle, Beagle Bailey. A number of readers have told me about their canine couch potatoes. Newman has his chair, television remote which he slaps with his paw to change channels, and refuses to go for walks.

I’ll tell you up front—Newman is a far cry from Gnarly. In a nutshell, Newman is the dog who doesn’t do anything.

Where does all these furry characters end? I really don’t know. Recently, I’ve been interviewing a horse in Texas who would like a role in the Mac Faraday Mysteries …

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