Wednesday, August 3, 2022

DOGS AND CATS: Guest Post by Karen Rose

Karen Rose: Dogs and Cats 

I often include dogs and cats in my books. I started doing so back in 2003 in my very first book, DON’T TELL, with Cindy Lou Who, an Old English Sheepdog who wasn’t quite two. If a character didn’t have a dog, they’d usually have cats, like Kristen Mayhew’s Mephistopheles and Nostradamus in I’M WATCHING YOU.  


Normally, it’s the good guys—the heroes and heroines—who are the pet owners, but every now and then the villain will have a furry friend, like the serial killer in SAY YOU’RE SORRY. I hadn’t planned for him to have a dog, but the dog just showed up and said, “Hi, I’m here!” So I went with it and the dog ended up being a big part of the story.


In one of my books, the killer was a murderer/arsonist, and his first victim was a cat sitter. It occurred to him that there would be a cat in the house when he started the fire, but he wouldn’t allow the cat to get hurt. So he put the cat out first. I wasn’t sure why, so I kept writing and more cats and dogs were saved, even though their owners were slain.  It turned out that the killer’s love of animals shared space in his mind with the trauma he’d suffered as a child. He was a despicable killer, but his love for animals allowed him to keep a hold on his fractured humanity, although that hold was rapidly fraying.


Pets allow me to create connections with the characters—both with me and with each other in the book.  Pets provide comfort and unconditional love. Many of my characters need this (because I’m kind of rough on them, giving them tragic backstories).  


Sometimes the pets provide a feeling of protection and safety, like Peabody the Rottweiler, in NO ONE LEFT TO TELL. Sometimes they’re comfort cats, like Mercy’s Rory in SAY NO MORE, or service dogs, like tiny Brutus, who rides around in Daisy’s purse in SAY YOU’RE SORRY. Sometimes the pets are simply that breath of fresh air that allows the readers (and me) to draw a breath in between the villain’s heinous crimes.  

I can tell you all kinds of reasons for including dogs and cats in my books—and they’d all be true—but the main reason is that I like dogs and cats! I’ve had a dog and/or a cat (and for a while a horse) for most of my life and I want my characters to feel the sweet affection from their furry friends. 


In my newest book, QUARTER TO MIDNIGHT, Gabe (the hero) has inherited his murdered father’s dog, Shoe. A sweetheart Lab mix, Shoe not only gives Gabe a living being to care for after the devastation of his father’s death, but he gives Gabe a connection to the father he loved and lost. Molly, the heroine, has a horse named Shelley. Shelley is all she has left of the farm where she grew up, also a connection to the memory of her father. Shoe the dog has a much bigger starring role in QUARTER TO MIDNIGHT than Shelley the horse, mostly because Shoe is far more portable, LOL.  


I hope you love Gabe and Molly and Shoe (who is a very good boy). I hope you’ve been the recipient of a furry friend’s love, whether they be your pet or someone else’s. Bye for now from me and Sasha, my Giant Schnauzer, who’s curled up at my feet.


Karen Rose is the award-winning, #1 international bestselling author of twenty-five novels, including the bestselling Baltimore and Cincinnati series. She has been translated into twenty-three languages, and her books have placed on the New York Times, the Sunday Times (UK), and Germany's der Spiegel bestseller lists. Learn more at

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