If you’re like me, pets are a big part of your life. Especially during these days of enforced semi-isolation, they keep us company and semi-normal and sane. I got sick on 4/9/21 and tested positive for Covid-19, despite working from home for a year and never going anywhere without a mask. Being surrounded by fur babies makes things easier to bear. I have my shadow, Roxie, a German Shepherd shelter rescue who is utterly kitty-whipped by her three roommates—20 year old calico Chandra, Riley my derpy “office” cat who is the most dog-friendly of the bunch, and Primakins, who’s my chubby chatterbox. I also have a horse I board out in the country and have to take road trips to go visit.
Part of my author bio is “the only vet tech in a family of nurses” and my books promise lots of critters. Because, of course, my characters have to have their own various companions. Where would Loren and Cianan be without their sentient elven war mares? Trystan would have drowned in a shipwreck if Finora’s dog Storm hadn’t rescued him. Dax found himself adopted by his spirit-raven – her choice, not his. Elyria’s mist-tiger, Aryk’s dog Fiske. Verdeen’s yaga Ebony.
Like my real-life companions, I wanted my fictional companions to have fully formed personalities and jobs. I love research, and got to check out how medieval destriers (war horses) training are immortalized by the modern Lipizzaner, how insanely brave and strong Newfoundland water rescue dogs are, how llama (yaga) pack animals choose their own loads, and all about the ravens of the Tower of London. I had a ball creating a spirit raven that turns from black in one book to pure white in the next.
Beyond the main critters, there are the background, world-building fillers – the polar bears, beluga whales, snow leopards, and reindeer of the Arctic, the tree frogs and parrots and primates of the tropics. They add layers of sounds, smells, textures, and color. Something for your characters to interact with. A variety of fur and feathers.
We could all talk about our fur babies nonstop for hours – not just their “great moments” but all the little quirks that make them unique and memorable and “real.” When Ebony keeps nibbling on Verdeen’s hair or sleeps across the doorway so she trips over her every time she leaves the dwelling, when Fiske tries to beg because people food is infinitely better than dog food, when Storm drools on his paws because…well, Newfies drool. Horses, being very intelligent animals, are afraid of fire, but both Hani`ena and Kikeona both move past that fear to rescue victims.
I have a new book out this month, my first sci fi, and it was interesting to see what the future holds for critters on other planets. Cats being immortal deities from thousands of years ago – of course they’d still be around thousands of years into the future! With…enhanced abilities. Margolian psi felisi are infallible good-vs.-evil detectors, banished by the Imperium powers-that-be who are rather on the evil end of that spectrum! Cats always know!
So I am happy sharing books and stories with lots of critters and characters hopefully we can all relate to, that make us smile and laugh and shake our heads and roll our eyes – just like real life!
By: Renee Wildes