Every writer needs a dog – Laura Kenyon explains why.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books. I love the smell of a new one, the creases of an old one, and the promise of a dozen adventures and friends-to-be. I’ve also always loved dogs. How they seem happy all the time, how they’re easy to please, and how (for better or for worse) they refuse to let us wallow in one place for too long.

Brimble - Kenyon headshot fireplace

Five years ago, I switched gears from full-time journalist to freelancer and aspiring author. Four years ago, I finally brought home the puppy I’d wanted forever. These two things may seem unrelated, but they illustrate something I’ve come to firmly believe: In addition to paper, pens, and imagination, every writer needs a dog.

My canine muse (he also appears in both of my books) is a four-year-old, ninety-pound silver Labrador retriever named Shadow. While sometimes I think he’s deliberately trying to sabotage my writing, at the end of the day, Shadow is the best literary coach I could have. He gives my day structure, forces me to focus when things get too emotional, and reminds me that life is filled with amazing things I won’t see locked up in my office all the time. You see, dogs couldn’t care less about how many bad reviews we’ve received on Amazon, or whether we missed the typo in chapter two, or how many rejection letters we have buried in our closet.

They wake up in the morning hungry for our attention. They stare at us — three toys arranged at our feet, back arched to pounce, tail swinging back and forth like a race day flag — until we finally back away from the computer for a much-needed break. And for me, this is when most breakthroughs happen. By yanking me out of my writer’s cave, Shadow has stopped me from doing irreconcilable damage to my manuscript on more than one occasion — during those cabin-fever moments when revising gets out of hand and everything that sounded perfect the day before suddenly reads like crap.

By stepping into the outside world, all the plot snags and minute details that had been clogging my head all morning begin to clear, and the solution reveals itself. In the movie Meet the Parents, Robert DeNiro’s character describes dogs as emotionally shallow and dog people — who enjoy being greeted by their happy pooch when they walk through the door — as needy.

“Cats make you work for their affection,” he says. “They don’t sell out the way dogs do.” But I say that writers work hard enough to convince people we deserve a chance: literary agents, editors, publishers, reviewers. To them, we’re smeared sidewalk gum until the charts prove our worth and some algorithm tips in our favor. I think we deserve a bit of easy, unconditional admiration in our lives … for doing something as simple as picking up a leash or throwing a ball. Don’t you agree?

 

Imagine what might happen if our most beloved fairy tale princesses were the best of friends and had the dreams, dilemmas, and libidos of the modern woman. How would their stories unfold after the wedding bells stopped ringing?

Kenyon - Desperately Ever After cover

Set in a fictional realm based on New York City, Desperately Ever After sprinkles women’s fiction with elements of fantasy, and encourages readers to rethink everything they know about happy endings.

Years after turning her husband from beast back to man and becoming his queen, Belle finds out she’s finally going to have a child. But before she can announce the wondrous news, she catches him cheating and watches her “happily ever after” go up in flames. Turning to her friends for the strength to land with grace, she realises she’s not the only one at a crossroads:

Cinderella, a mother of four drowning in royal duties, is facing her 30th birthday and questioning everything she’s done (or hasn’t) with her life.

Rapunzel, a sex-crazed socialite and one-woman powerhouse, is on a self-destructive quest to make up for 20 years locked away in a tower.

Penelopea, an outsider with a mother-in-law from hell, is harboring a secret that could ruin everything at any moment.

One part Sex and the City, two parts Desperate Housewives, and three parts Brothers Grimm, Desperately Ever After picks up where the original tales left off — and injects them with heaps of whimsy. At its core, the novel is about group of ordinary women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They just happen to live in castles.


After five years as a full-time newspaper reporter and editor, Laura Kenyon realised in late 2009 that writing was much more fun when she could make things up. So she switched gears. Her first novel, Desperately Ever After, came out in February 2014, and the sequel will follow this summer. In addition to writing fiction, she’s a freelance journalist, wife, puppy parent, and mother-to-be. She loves connecting with readers on her blog (laurakenyon.com), Twitter (@laura_kenyon), and Facebook (laurakenyonwrites).

4 comments on “A Muse of the Four-Legged Variety”

  1. Hi Laura- I wanted you to know that even though I already purchased the Kindle version of DESPERATEY EVER AFTER, I ordered the paperback tonight. I loved your tale about Shadow. I wish I could find my muse. I wish you all the best, Elaine S.

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