Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pets in Fiction

I noticed recently while reading a book and hanging out with my cat that there aren't a lot of pets in fiction. In fact, I'm having trouble naming one book that includes a pet not central to the main plot (example: books like Black Stallion, Pony Pals, and other books where a key point to the plot is that the MCs have horses).

I mean I can understand it in a fantasy where the main character goes tearing off on a six-month journey to find the Golden Teapot because then the poor little animal would be left starving at home. But what about in a nice contemporary when no one goes off on a long, harrowing journey?

Pets are great. How a person treats animals says a lot about them. The person that throws a gym bag full of kittens out the window of a moving car obviously doesn't care that animals are living creatures too. The person that hears the mewing while jogging by and stops to investigate and then takes the kittens home is loving and nurturing.

Why do you think there aren't more pets in novels? Do you have a novel that includes animals?


E.J. Wesley said...

Good point. If there are major animal roles, they're always my favorite part! I'm reading George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series right now and I love the wolves.

Definitely think more stories should work them in.


Linda Benson said...

Rachael - Animals sneak into everything I write, both my 2 middle grade novels, THE HORSE JAR, and FINDING CHANCE, and my WIP manuscripts.

But I agree, although there are novels where animals are the major characters, you don't see pets mentioned too often, especially in YA fiction, and this is strange, since most households have at least one dog, cat, or other pet. It's true - how characters relate to animals says so much about them, it's an easy way to shed light on their personalities. Good post!

Brigid Gorry-Hines said...

When I was 12 I wrote a very long story about cats and it involved a lot of other animals too ... I kind of got sick of writing about animals. It's not that I don't like animals; I love animals. For some reason I just don't like writing about them. I can't think of any of my characters who have pets. But I like animal companions in books.

For example, I really like the polar bear in The Golden Compass––don't remember his name, it's like Iorek or something? And I love Manchee (the dog) in The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Nick Hight said...

Mmm, that's kind of thought provoking. I've never really thought about pets in fiction, but you're right - they can reveal a lot about a person's character. Thanks for the pointer :)

Terry Loves Cricket said...

I don't have a novel with a pet, but I do have a short story where the main character is a dog--a self-aware dog who is a reincarnated detective, it's true--which I've made available as a .99 Kindle to see if it might be worth my while to try a novel. It's called Rusty Takes a Leak. Some of my favorite books involving pets are the Lillian Jackson Braun books--at least the early ones.