I love dogs and have been owned by many in my lifetime, though not for the last thirty years, when my busy profession and travel made it impossible to give a dog the attention he deserved.  But I figured I’d enjoy putting a dog in my Funeral Planner Suspense Series (FADEOUT and SWOON).  Inexpensive pet.  Interesting to write about.  Fun for readers.  Heck, if I couldn’t raise a pet, why not enjoy one in my novel?

I was wrong, wrong, wrong!

Pets in a novel take a TON of care; woe be to the novelist who forgets where the dog is and loses track of the animal’s ‘motivation.’  My little guy, Elwood (L.W., Elly, El), is a black Scottie with a big brain, even though he wiles away the hours by tracking shadows on the floor.  Because of his weird habit, his owner, Amy Solvang, named him Elwood, after a main character in the play “Harvey.”  Elwood, famously played in the movie version by Jimmy Stewart, sees and talks to a giant rabbit named Harvey.  You see the connection?  My Scottie tracks shadows as if they represent something important; Elwood sees a giant rabbit.

Now, when Amy Solvang was dying of cancer, her daughter, Jan Solvang, quit her job in Seattle and went to help her mom out in Central Coast California.  Amy died, leaving Jan with a very unusual dog to raise.

Jan’s like me.  She had as much trouble attending to Elwood’s needs as I had remembering where Elwood was in each scene.  Had enough time passed to take Elwood out for a bathroom break or a walk?  What room was Elwood in and did that matter to the plot?  Was Elwood present for important scenes?  Why or why not?

All of a sudden, I found myself analyzing my Scottie’s motivation along every human in my book.  Soon I was working Elwood into the plot…giving him a job to do and a growth arc to climb.  Yup, he gets involved in the romance, sometimes a hinderance and sometimes a help.  For sure, he’s involved in the mystery.  Soon, he learns to read Jan’s moods, and more.  I don’t want to spoil the suspense for you, but I will say: Elly becomes an important sidekick to the heroine.  Now, I never got as far as to give Elly a voice, but I did make sure that I knew where the dog was for every scene, and more important, I made sure my Scottie had an important role to play throughout my series.

I grew to love Elwood in the same way I end up loving my human characters, but I have to admit, I’m worried about how to spike his growth arc in the third book of the Funeral Planner Series.  Oops, I hear him barking…must be time for him to jump into a scene!

So, tell me.  Has your pet experienced a ‘growth arc?’  Give me an anecdote about your pet’s highest achievement and you’ll get the chance to win a download of my first novel, LAST RESORT.

Visit my website:  for all the information about my books.

Here’s the blurb on SWOON:

“Don’t miss SWOON by Rolynn Anderson! If you like an interesting cast of characters, a heavy dose of mystery and a lot of fabulous surprises, you’ll be happily turning pages late into the night.Ë®

~ Brenda Novak, NYT and USA Bestselling Author of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES


Her dead clients won’t rest in peace.

When the dead tell tales, Jan Solvang’s first reaction is to RUN!  But then she gets caught up in their mysteries.

Jan’s a boutique funeral planner, new to risk, hired to bury a missing woman and memorialize an infamous man.  Yet when she digs for clues to write their eulogies, she disturbs family secrets and unmasks killers.

Roman Keller, hard-driving documentary writer, is in complete control of his life and his stories, until he falls for Jan, a woman who trusts her dog, her faint-dreams, and her instincts more than she trusts him.

Can they make the sacrifices necessary to cement their relationship or will the mayhem caused by the dead ruin their second chance at love?  





Pin It on Pinterest

Share This