Monday, January 27, 2014

When life influences fiction

Most of us have seen the coffee cup and magnets that warn people to be careful or they might end up in a writer’s novel. I know I’ve been asked several times if my characters are based on any “real” person. Until now I’ve always said no. But in Journey of Wisdom, I decided to immortalize someone very dear to me.
We rescued Shadow, our dog, from a shelter. He quickly became part of our family. He checked on the kids every night, let them dress him in clothes, and was the most loving, faithful dog ever. He grew sick 2012. The vet said, besides exploratory surgery, there was nothing we could except hope the antibiotics worked. They didn’t.

I was working on a scene in Journey of Wisdom and suddenly, it just seemed a perfect place to honor the world’s best dog. This is a short excerpt:

The fire began to falter, having consumed Mohan’s offering. He stood, too tired to move. His will was gone, as though it too was eaten by the flames. Something moved behind him. Mohan spun on the balls of his feet, drawing his sword.
A dog limped out of the forest near the clearing’s edge. Its dark gray coat was matted and wet in places. The dog paused several wheels away from Mohan. It whined once and wagged its shaggy tail. Mohan groaned. It was wounded, probably from the Rugian attack. He walked forward to put the mongrel out of its misery.
The dog looked up with dark, sad but hopeful eyes. Mohan slowly stretched out his hand. The dog whimpered softly and licked Mohan’s fingers.
“You’re the only one left.” Mohan’s voice broke. Where once there was laughter, family, there was only death.

And no, Mohan doesn’t put the dog out of his misery. The dog helps ease his... which is also a testimony to Shadow.

He whistled, and the dog raced between the trees toward him. It was only recently that the dog would let Mohan out of his sight and even now not for long. His habit of trailing Mohan and his gray coloring had inspired his name: Shadow... Adoration lit his dark eyes. Mohan patted the dog’s shaggy head. Shadow still had a slight limp but more than enough energy. “We’ll be home in a few hours. Are you ready to meet your new troupe?”

Shadow touched my family with his loyalty and love. I thought it a fitting tribute to let him stand by Mohan’s side and do the same.

We still haven’t been able to buy another dog. Recently, however, we did let a kitten into our home. Baby steps.

Do you have a pet that is part of your family?

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