Tricksters are a hoot to incorporate into a story. They add comic relief and sparkle to any situation. In my books they take the form of animals, mainly dogs and cats.
Anamorphizing critters (loading them with human-like emotions) makes them lightning rods for anger, sadness, and subtle humor in a scene. Tension is alleviated or escalated without being obvious. How can you not love a huge standard poodle with a police report stuffed in his mouth, like Popeye’s spinach? That’s exactly what happens in the final book of the Dushane Sisters Trilogy, Indigo Legacy, due out in early 2018. Actually, there are two conspiring poodles, named Pogo and Beauregard, that happen to be certified therapy dogs to aging mobsters in prison. Add to them a grumpy Himalayan cat named Freesia, and you have a combustible mix. The cat observes the scene and passes high-and-mighty judgement like a scolding parent.
You get the picture.
Animals hold court in the background, like Alfred Hitchcock’s McGuffin strategy. Behind the human love story, they keep the plot moving forward with swift punctuation and reminders of why readers were invited to the party. If my characters stray from their mission, the animals move in to keep the story on course.
Over the three books of the trilogy, my little tricksters have their own character arcs, too. They mature and become more complex as my humans do. From adoption to certification, these therapy-dog characters transform from out-of-hand to quite sophisticated. Their powers of sympathy, protection, and emotional connection add layers and depth to the plot.
Animal characters are no easy task for a writer. While on the surface they may seem simplistic and naive, they’re quite complicated to put into print. They require all the same character development as humans do, but without the ability to speak. Personalities are shown with a glance, a stance, or a dance. And, of course, that fourth element comes into play . . . touch.
I don’t even own a standard poodle or a Himalayan cat, but I found myself physically drawn to them over the three years of writing the trilogy. If I saw a majestic standard poodle being walked down the street, I made a swift approach. I couldn’t resist a ruffle of their fuzzy heads. The texture of their tight curls made for fun description. I’d look into their pouty eyes to spot that emotion and conspiring thought. Long-haired cats required my lap and a comb of my fingers through their fur. Then I’d go home and write it into the story.
I sobbed buckets when I finished the draft of Indigo Legacy. I didn’t want to let the characters go. These trickster animals became so real to me, like members of my family. After I publish this last book of the Dushane Sisters Trilogy, I have another series in process. This one will have a touch of paranormal, humor, and of course an animal. Rudy the Jack Russell terrier will be my trickster to the protagonist, a clairvoyant woman. But Rudy will be one step ahead.
Let the games begin again.
|Photo: Loma Smith|
Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her new family. She writes for baby boomers. By day, Courtney is an executive in the entertainment industry and uses her time in a theater seat to create stories that are filled with heart, humor and mystery. She has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, she is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and She Writes. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal.
Check out all of Courtney's books at:
courtney-pierce.com and windtreepress.com. Both print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including Amazon.com
The Dushane Sisters are back in Indigo Lake. More laughs, more tears...and more trouble. Protecting Mom's reputation might get the sisters killed―or give one of them the story she's been dying to live.
New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."
Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's trilogy about the Dushane sisters. Beginning with The Executrix, three middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe after her death. Mom’s book gives them a whole new view of their mother and their future. Is it fiction . . . or truth?
Get out the popcorn as the Dushane Sisters Trilogy comes to a scrumptious conclusion with Indigo Legacy. Due out in summer, 2017.