Monday, April 26, 2010

Animals as Secondary Characters by Jami Davenport

I’m an animal lover. Our small farm in Western Washington near Puget Sound consists of two pony-sized dogs, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and one prima donna horse. You’ll rarely read a book of mine which doesn’t have an animal as a secondary character. Animals add a bit of humor and fun to any situation.

In The Gift Horse I experimented with a small amount of scenes in Gabby’s point of view. Gabby is a very large Hanoverian show horse. She’s got an attitude, and she knows how to use it. Essentially, she’s modeled after my own opinionated Hanoverian mare. Throughout the book, the heroine is being sabotaged, and Gabby witnesses the acts on more than one occasion. I loved developing Gabby’s character, giving her a quirky personality and a voice.

Horses and dogs were a natural for me to write about. Cats were not, until a few years ago when my cat-hating husband allowed a stray cat into our house. The next thing we knew, we were owned by a cat. I knew this cat (and how quickly he won over my husband) had to be in my next book and he is.

In my current work-in-progress, the heroine is an animal communicator. The animal star of the show is the orange tabby cat who lives next door. The cat, a bit of a drama-queen, is quite vocal after having been relegated to the role of barn cat by the new owner of the property. The heroine confronts her neighbor, a bad-boy pro football player, and insists he take care of his cat. The football player has no intention of letting a fur-spreading, litter-box using, flea-infested cat into his home. The cat’s goal is to reinstate his role as house cat. If you have cats, you know what’s coming next. In no time, the tabby has taken over the house. He sleeps on the pillow, uses the arm of the leather couch for a scratching post, and spreads cat hair everywhere. The hero is at his mercy. You gotta love a man who loves animals, regardless of his other flaws. It’s a hoot writing about how this little tabby cat wraps the hero around his paw and a great way to show this alpha male’s soft side.

I’ll continue to use animals in my books for as long as I write. Do you enjoy reading a book with animals as secondary characters? Have you read any good books lately with animals as secondary characters? I’d love to hear your comments.

Jami Davenport
http://www.jamidavenport.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jamidavenport
Blog: http://jamidavenport.blogspot.com/
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Jami Davenport has been writing since she was old enough to know the alphabet. An advocate of happy endings, Jami writes sexy romantic comedy, sizzling suspense, and equestrian fiction. Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her husband, a former Green Beret turned plumber. In her spare time, Jami rides and shows her dressage horse. An avid boater, Jami has spent countless hours in the San Juan Islands, the setting for her first two books. In her opinion, it is the most beautiful place on earth.

86 comments:

Lisa F. said...

I'm reading an ebook right now where the heroine has a parrot for a pet. So far the parrot has pooped on the hero's shirt, and has been a source of snippy dialogue between the h/h. Very funny stuff!

I think pets bring so much joy into our lives that it is nice to read a story where a pet plays an important role.

Deb830 said...

Lisa too funny about the parrot. I love animals and always appreciate authors that incorporate them in their stories!!!

Kara said...

I love to read books where animals are secondary characters. They add so much to the story with all the quirky things the author can make them do.

Heather D said...

Good Morning!!

I just finished To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt, in it the heroine has a little terrier named Sir Mouse. This dog definitely has the syndrome, and I am drawing a blank right now to the correct term used, "little dog syndrome" maybe. Anyway he is definitely bigger than his britches!!

I love reading novels that have an animal with attitude, you know the ones that think they rule the roost. It seems to add just a little something extra special to the plot and characters.

Valerie said...

I think it's a given that animal lovers, would love books with animals in them. One of my favorite Linda Howard books (Open Season) features the heroine buying a new puppy and some of the scenes are pee your pants funny and so true to life!
I think pets in the book are great and it adds another depth to the character as well as makes the book memorable.

WK said...

Ohhh I love to read books with animals. I can't think of one now, oh wait I just read an early copy of LLM's GARRETT and there's a 3legged dog in it that's great.

hugs,
WendyK

Tamsyn said...

I love animals too. One reason I love shapeshifter stories!:o) Unfortunately, I live in an apartment and it is just not practical to have a pet. My dream is to buy a house with a yard and get me a dog someday.

Dannyfiredragon said...

I really enjoy books with animals as secondary characters. The last book that I have read with an animal was Beyond the rain by Jess Granger, there it was a cute fox.

TJ Brown said...

Love animals as characters... the interactions between the main character and the animal is so telling!
Teri

Jami Davenport said...

Hi, everyone. I slept in a little late this AM, plus, I'm on Pacific time here. Thanks so much for the comments.
Lisa, that book sounds like a lot of fun. I love making animals do things to the hero or heroine. Gabbie likes to wipe her nose on my hero in The Gift Horse, which drives him crazy.
Deb and Kate, I like reading ones with animals, too. I've read a few lately, one was part of a series, but I can't remember the title right now.
Heather and Val, I'll have to check out Sir Mouse and Linda Howard's book.
WK: LOL on the 3-legged dog!!!
Tamsyn, I'm fortunate that I have a few acres for all the animals.
DannyFK, I'll check out the fox, too.
Thanks for the warm welcome this AM and helping me kick off Lucy's party.
BTW, friend me on Facebook, and you can see pictures of my animals.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Jamie. I enjoy books that have animals that are secondary characters. In The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt, the hero has a beloved dog that has stuck in my memory.

Yolanda said...

Tabitha Shay's Winslow Witches series features an animal familiar as the witch's sidekick in each book. To me, the familiar's scenes are the funniest.

Elizabeth Amber said...

Interesting topic, Jami! A sweet kitty photo, too. My first cat looked like this one. I have two now.

Katy M said...

I love animals as secondary characters. Unfortunately, I haven't read any lately.

I did read I fun series by Elaine Fox where the heroines (and their pups) meet at a dog park. The most memorable character from that series is the heroine's french bulldog named Doug, from Beware of Doug, who makes it his mission to make the hero/neighbor miserable. He has great comedic timing!

sonya said...

love books with animals and right now i'm reading shifter books.

Andrea Becraft said...

Good Morning.

First off thank you for blogging with us this week.

Secondly I love books with animals in them. Adds more of a human element to show the love for pets.

I have a dog and life would be boring without him.

Jami Davenport said...

TJ: That's so true. In the football hero romance I'm currently writing, the hero's reputation is that of a real jerk, but He claims he hates cats, but it takes the cat about thirty minutes to take over the house. It's a good way to show the hero's soft side and vulnerability.

Sherry said...

I love reading books with animals as secondary characters although I haven't read any in a while. I use to love reading the Harlequin Intrigues with Familiar the cat in them.

sstrode@scrtc.com

Lucy Monroe said...

I so agree that bringing animals into stories gives another dimmension to the human characters as they interact. :) Thanks so much for being a special guest at the RAH Conf,Jami! You and your stories rock!

Jami Davenport said...

Crystal, Yolanda, and Katy, thanks for the book suggestions. Looks like I have a lot of reading to do.
Elizabeth, that's a picture of the stray cat that moved into our house and changed my husband from a cat hater to a cat lover. His name is Khat.
Sonja, I've never read a shifter book, I guess I should start.
Andrea, Life would be boring without pets in them. They can be so entertaining. Right now, I'm not entertained by my two dogs. They took off this AM, which they don't usually do. I just drove up and down the road looking for them and couldn't find them.

Jami Davenport said...

Sherry, I missed those Intrigues. Darn.
Lucy, thanks for having me. How are things at RT so far?

flchen1 said...

I do enjoy animals as secondary characters, Jami! Debra Salonen's written a few, including Love, By George (featuring George, a gangly Great Dane). I do like how animals, like other secondary characters, can really reveal aspects to the other characters that you might not get to see otherwise :)

Danica said...

I love books with animals in them. Hasn't it been said somewhere that kids and animals steal the show? I don't think that's any different from books.

If I had to pick my favorite book with an animal, it would have to be Katie MacAlister's Aisling Grey series. Sure, Jim is a demon, not really a dog, but I love that of any form he could pick, he chose a Newfoundlander. Great animal character!

chelleyreads said...

i like reading about animals as secondary characters. they add lightness and comedic relief and you need that sometimes.

Eva S said...

I love books with all kind of animals, horses are my favorites. And shifters, especially big cats and dragons, right now I'm reading G.A.Aiken's Dragon Actually. Wonderful dragon family!

Lucy Monroe said...

Today is my get settled in day - lots of writing to do, prepping the promo items for display, preparing my *brief* tribute to Kate Duffy for the Welcome Mixer, making sure my other panels are good to go, and hopefully not freaking out too much while I visit with everyone here. LOL

Stephanie said...

Animals are a big part of both my reading life and real life. And I wouldn't have it any other way! They and I just have a natural attraction, and it spills over into my reading all the time. Be the story about shifters or having an animal buddy as a secondary character.
I just finished Karen Kelley's Cosmic Sex series and Loved it! She has a wonderful way of including animals in her stories.

Janet H said...

Hi Jami,

I love animals and it is fun to read books that have a pet as a big part of the story.

s7anna said...

I absolutely adore animals and I love when they're used as solid characters in a story rather than just a slight mention. I have read many books with animals being a secondary character...something that comes to mind right away...Jayne Castle's dust bunnies ( I love them! ).

red said...

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fun of animals in real life and I'm really afraid of dogs but I do love reading about animals in books because I think they can really add to the plot and one of my fav books has a dog as one of the main characters- Take a Chance On Me by Susan Donovan. I just loved the way Susan gave the dog Hairy a "voice" and part of the story was from his point of view- it was such a great book, very funny and full of emotions.


Moran

Jami Davenport said...

Kara, I agree. I love to make my animals do quirky things. I really love it when they have a personality. I had this ugly mutt in one book who was a voyuer.

Jami Davenport said...

Fichen, Chelly, Eva, Stephanie, Janet, s7anna, I'm glad to see so many animal lovers out there.

Eva, Horses are my favorites, too. Which is obvious if you visit my website or Facebook. I've been a horse nut since I was old enough to know what they were

Danica, Yeah, you're right a kid or an animal really can steal the show in a book.

Jami Davenport said...

Red, I haven't read that book, yet. I'd like to see how she handles the animal POV. My list is getting longer. :)

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Jami, like you, I'm an animal lover as well. And your organge tabby resembles mine (Sir Winston).

I love books that include animals. I just finished a romance which took place in Africa where a monkey swooped down and took the heroines breakfast.

Jami Davenport said...

Marilyn, I love orange tabby cats. They're my favorite. In fact, a few years ago I was telling my cat-hater husband that we needed a orange tabby as a barn cat. Every one I've ever known has been a ruthless hunter. I few weeks later one moved into our barn. He lived in the barn for a few months but constantly lobbied to be a house cat. My hubby is the one who let him in the house. It's been his house ever since.

Ashley said...

I am indifferent to pets in books, but this post made me think of my best friend...I call her Dr. Dolittle lol this sounds like a book for her.

Jami Davenport said...

Ashley,

Dr. Doolittle--LOLOLOL!

Kait Nolan said...

I LOVE reading books with animals as secondary (or even primary) characters. Addicted to the Sneaky Pie Brown books. I haven't ever used an animal as a POV character before, but in my old work I always had a dog (not necessarily the same one) as a character. Pets have been kind of hard to fit into the paranormal stuff, as so many of my races are so long lived that having a pet with a lifespan of only 10-15 years doesn't seem logical. Maybe I should invent new races of pets...

Jami Davenport said...

Kait, I think that'd be a great idea to create a pet for your characters that lives just as long. You could have some fun with that.

Leni said...

It surprised me how much I love it when authors have animals as players in their books. They are characters that are well written and I can actually visualize them as I read. They add such great flavor to the stories.

Tricia Jones said...

Animals as secondary characters ... what a great idea! I've never written a POV animal but one of my heroes is a vet looking after a cutie white dog. Had some fun with that.

Valerie, I agree, Linda Howard's Open Season ... so funny...

Lil said...

I enjoy reading books with pets included in a story. The last one was Jamie Rush's A Perfect Darkness which featured a Parrot who had funny quips.

Jane said...

I do enjoy books with animals. Elaine Fox and Susan Donovan are a couple of authors that I read that feature dogs in their books.

Ashley said...

lol she is Dr. Dolittle, and the weirdest thing is when she is near a sick or injured animal her hands start to get tingly and you can see her fingertips get almost swollen...it really is weird but she truly has a gift with animals.

Cathy M said...

Sierra Cartwright has a fabulous hot romance with a parrot that is totally hilarious and really worked with the storyline.

Judy F said...

I love pets in books. I think they add another layer to the characters. I know for me I talk to my cat a lot and I love when characters in book do too.

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Being a pet lover myself, I absolutely love animals-characters in books. The main one that comes to mind straight off is Flappy and Pirate from Angie Fox's books. I don't know if you'd consider this one but Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books with the Companions (horses who can communicate with their chosen), birds, gryphons, Oh there was the kitties in Annette Blair's Triplet Saga.

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us, Jami! Animals are the best and I love cats. Mine has been quiet vocal lately and I can just imagine what she is talking about to me. I always thought she would make a great character in a book and now you have solidified that Thank you again!

http://thepenmuse.com
http://denisealicea.com

LM's Drama Queen said...

Haha! This post certainly made me laugh as it hit so close to home. My family has had my cat, (you're never gonna guess her name!) Princess, since I was four years old and let me just say the name certainly fits! The only other suitable ones I can think of might be...Diva, Drama Queen, High Maintenance, Miss Thing, you get the idea. I think it's so clever for you to incorporate all of the fun and humorous aspects of an animals life in your stories. They sound like they would be so much fun to read!

XOX
~*DQ*~

Beth said...

I love reading a book where one of the hero &/or heroine have a pet, especially one with great character.
Recently reread Shelly Laurenston's Pride series. One of the ladies has a couple of dogs who, when she gets involved with a lion shifter, become such characters. I laugh at every scene they are in.

Nichole said...

I don't remember reading alot of books with animals in them the only ones I can think of are two Lori Foster anthos. I really liked those. I either need to look harder or maybe all the writers hanging around here (hint Lucy, Katie, Erin...)need to write some.

Lillie said...

I love animals in books! I think my favorite is Unleashing the Storm by Sydney Croft. The heroine is an animal whisperer.

Jami Davenport said...

Ashley, Has your friend ever done anything with her gift? Just curious. The heroine in my WIP is an animal communicator but she keeps it somewhat secret. I've been reading books on people who communicate with animals. It's really quite interesting.

Jami Davenport said...

Leni, Tricia, Lil, and Jane,
I never set out to include animals in my first couple books, it just happened. After that, The Gift Horse was the first book where I purposely included a horse as the "star" of the book. Gabbie is really my mare (the one in the picture), who is a MAJOR drama queen and expects the world to worship her. She'll charm you right out of any treats she can. In fact, I had a 25-pound bag of carrots sitting outside her stall. I a week it was almost gone. I put a note on the barn bulletin board that the carrots were for Gailey only (thinking everyone was helping themselves for their horses). Six people came forward and admitted that Gailey begged so cutely they couldn't walk by her stall without slipping her a few carrots. She had quite the racket going.

Ashley said...

She doesn't look for animals to help, but she won't turn one away. She use to live near a wooded area and that is kind of how it all started.

She really should do more with it though. She has taken in and helped tons of animals...all from the wild, and all of them have recovered and been re-released.

Jami Davenport said...

Cathy, Several people have mentioned the "parrot" book. It must be a good one.

Jami Davenport said...

Judy and Denise, I didn't know I loved cats. I'd had cats as a kid but never since then. Now I have blankets on all the good furniture to keep cat hair off of it. As I write this, Khat is laying next to me in "his" chair.

Jami Davenport said...

Raonaid,

I haven't read any of those books, but all of you are giving me some great books to add to my TBR list.

Jami Davenport said...

Hey, DQ, thanks for dropping in. Animals are great fun to write about. I have a clepto lab in one book who stole the car keys so the heroine couldn't leave.

Jami Davenport said...

Beth, Nichole, Lillie,

One of my favorite things to do is to have an animal that either the hero or heroine doesn't like. Eventually, the two get along, but at first, they have this love-hate relationship. It's a hoot to write it.

Jami Davenport said...

Ashley, Have your friend get this book: Spoken in Whispers by Nicci Mackay. It's Nicci's story, and it's very entertaining and enlightening about how animals think.

Ashley said...

oh and she also brought her hamster back from the brink of death by holding it. It sounds so unreal but she really can do strange things when it comes to animals

Jami Davenport said...

Ashley, I believe it. She really does have a gift.

Nancy G said...

I love it when the pets play a role in the romance, bringing them together in some way. I read one once where two cats managed to bring their owners together. It was fun and romantic and wouldn't have been near as good without them.

GladysMP said...

You and I certainly share a love of animals. When I read about someone mistreating an animal, I consider them criminals. Animals are such lovable creatures and add so much joy to our lives. They add interest to books, too; so, congratulations on including them in yours.

Toni said...

Jami

That book that you are writing is one I will definitely be looking for. As the servant to two cats I know what you mean by they will do anything to get there way.
Have a good time at the convention

T
oni

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Jami, I adore animal characters. I can't write a book now without animals. Cats are my fav, but I have dogs in the latest book.

erahime said...

I don't mind reading books w/ animals as secondary characters. However, I would like some variety. There is one autho is loves dogs, and I had felt compelled to anticipate having dogs in the books. If it becomes repetitive, I get turned off. So reading about how many animals you used in your books doesn't bother me.

I hadn't read any good books with the animals as secondary characters lately. Howevr, I do have fond memories of an independent reader author whose characters are all animals. I had read a lot of the author's animal series, and even though I had stopped reading them, I stil have fond memories of it.

Jami Davenport said...

Nancy, do you remember the name of that book and the author?

Gladys, Toni, and Helen, This book I just completed is the first one where a used a cat. The sequel to it, which I'm working on right now, gives the cat a much bigger role.

Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments and great book ideas.

Maria said...

I tend to read alot of paranormal books where the animal is often the second nature of the primary character...ie a werewolf or some type of shapeshifter. I also read books where a real animal is the sidekick of the werewolf or shifter. Of course in a good western, the cowboy's horse is often important to the story and it's good to watch the interaction, I think that you can judge how a person is with how they treat their animals so it's a good extension of character

Refhater said...

I love books with animals!

Terry's Crafty Fingers said...

I'm not sure that I've ever paid attention to a story having an animal in it. If it's a good story that can draw me into it that's all that matters to me.

Rhea said...

I think books with animals in them are great and really show who the character really is.

LDee said...

Hi,
Jami, it's not hard to see you in your stories. And as you know I share your love of these special guys. I seem to have animals that have issue's the biggest being they don't seem to know that they live with us. Instead they think we live with them.

I love your stories and that you incorporate animals in them.

Zina Lynch said...

I love books with animals, esp. if they help in the romance dept. Your book sounds great with a football star owning a cat.
Another writer that uses animals is Sue-Ellen Welfonder who also writes as Allie Mckay, all her books have animals and are on my keeper shelves and lot of Nina Bangs Vampire ones do too, keepers aw well.
Zina

donnas said...

I love reading books with animals as secondary characters. Even while not communicating in English there is much they can add to a story. Coming from a house with 2 cats I completely understand how they can take over. Really looking forward to your story and how the cat reclaims what he knows is his house.

Linda Henderson said...

I do enjoy animals in stories. I recently read Angie Fox's first two Demon Slayer books and she has a talking dog (Pirate) and I really enjoyed the interaction between them. I also have always enjoyed Caroline Burnes' Fear Familiar cat stories (Harlequin Intrigue), they are always very entertaining.

seriousreader at live dot com

suehussein said...

WOW, almost forgot today was the 1st day of the conference!! Nice post Jamie!! Your cat is my fav kind, gotta LUV an orange tabby!!! I've noticed a lot of newer authors are using animals in their reads. There are so many books now with dogs on the covers. To me a dog on the cover is a sign the book will prob be funny. I'm enjoying the funny romances lately. Thanks, Sue

Lady_Graeye said...

Animals add a special touch to a story. The make great secondary characters while adding humor. Angie Fox has a dog as a sidekick in her books and they are great! I'd like to see more books with our canine critters.

booklover0226 said...

I agree, animals can add humor to a story. I've read Lucan and Rion by Susan Kearney and they feature an owl. He was always around when the main characters needed him the most.

Thanks,
Tracey D

Sue A. said...

With so many of us having animals as family members, it is a natural thing to see animals as secondary characters in books.

Jami Davenport said...

Wow, again, I want to thank everyone for your comments. I'm off to my day job this AM, so I don't have time to respond to each post. I will check back this afternoon.

Thanks again, I've been enjoying all the posts and book ideas.

Jami
http://www.jamidavenport.com

Margay said...

Hhmm, I never really gave it much thought. But I did just finish a book by Janet Mullany where some cats played secondary characters, though they weren't very pleasant. And in Regencies (which are my favorite), horses are always an integral part of the stories, being the main form of transportation for the characters. Now I will have to pay more attention to them in future reads!
Margay

Carol L. said...

Hi Jami,
I read Su Ellen Welfonder's highlander books and there is always a little red fox whose name escapes me now. I love to look at Horses,they are such beautiful creatures.
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

Lois said...

I was going to say that I don't remember the last book I had with any animals, but I did remember it, Karen Hawkins's Lois Lane Tells All, I do believe it was. I particularly like it when cats show up because I have a little (big) missy. Think she's part Garfield given how she was liking up my lasagna plate today. LOL

Lois

etirv said...

Nothing stands out right now but I like stories that feature dogs as secondary characters!